Finding Refreshing Substitutes
"My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' And my heart responds, 'LORD, I am coming.'”
There are moments every day and every week that are ‘free’ – free in the sense that we don’t have anything else scheduled and no one needs our immediate attention. Those are often the moments we are most tempted to reach for our phones without even realizing we have other options. And while our bodies may relax as we stare at the screen, we do not come away from that time feeling relationally refreshed.
As you consider how to use your time wisely, remember that God has designed you to live a life full of joy. We do not need to fill every moment with something purposeful or ‘spiritual’ in order to make it worthwhile. The same God who gave us his Word also gave us nature, laughter, and friends. He is as honored by a long walk in his beautiful creation as much as he is honored by a time of theological study. Time laughing with friends can be as spiritual as time spent praying.
In Managing Leadership Anxiety, Stephen Cuss says:
“Jesus assures us that God likes to give good gifts for his children. A few years ago, I realized that God had given me many gifts, not spiritual gifts to use for God’s church but gifts from God for my own pleasure because I am his son. But I was not appreciating them. I changed that dynamic by making a written list of the gifts that God has given me for no other reason than I am his beloved son. Gifts I enjoy because they make me feel alive and human. These could be the precise things we are searching for when we have those unscheduled moments."
Cuss specifically chose to make a list, and his list had three categories: people, places, and activities. Honestly, when I (Chris) first read Cuss’ suggestion of a list, I wanted to try it but I was nervous – what if I didn’t have anything to write down? I was relieved that once I got started, the ideas flowed faster than I expected. The first one or two were hard, but the next thing I knew I had 10 ideas on the list.
Also, don’t worry about what ‘should’ be refreshing for you. I certainly enjoy some things that would be less enjoyable for you, and vice versa. For those of you who listened to my 2021 XSI workshop on rest, you know that driving and belting out Beyoncé or P!nk at the top of my lungs is refreshing for me. I told the audience they could laugh at me if they wanted, but I shared that to give them permission to enjoy whatever they want. God has designed each of us differently and we can appreciate that. Though since this is part of our "screen time refresh," I’d like to challenge you to leave off things like, "watch a movie."
Once you have your list, you have ideas for things to do when you have some free time. Be willing to revise it – something you thought was going to be refreshing might not actually work, and you might hear someone else’s idea and think it’s great. I steal good ideas all the time! Also, keep your list somewhere visible as a reminder during those free moments. Hopefully the list will give you options so that you don’t just default to the screen.
- Brainstorm and write down your own list. Post it somewhere you can see it.
- Consider sharing your list with some people (and steal each other’s ideas.)