I checked my email soon after I woke up. Made breakfast, ate, looked at my phone, and checked it again. Fifteen minutes later, I decided to read my Bible and my devotional. When I was finished, I sat down at my desk and checked email and Instagram. Ran a few errands, and while waiting in line at Target, popped into my inbox and scrolled through Facebook.
That sounds crazy as I type it all out. And that day when I caught myself, I wondered why I was incessantly checking email and social media. Then tried to justify my actions (in my head) as a way of trying to keep up with friends and keep my inbox clean.
But deep inside I knew my constant checking was about more than keeping up with emails and updates.
My heart was chasing after something more. And finally I paused to ask myself why: Why do I keep checking online?
I sat there for a moment, waiting for my heart to respond. I wasn’t sure if it was God speaking or me answering, but these words rose up in my thoughts: You keep coming back because your heart longs for connection.
No matter how many times I checked email or hopped on social media, it would never be enough to satisfy my need for real-life friendship.
Somewhere in the busyness of life, several friendships had been reduced to quick conversations via email. In the year leading up to this moment, my schedule had gotten stuffed full with my kids’ needs, school projects, balancing marriage and ministry, and some new challenging responsibilities at work.
Something had to give. I needed to find a better balance. Talking on the phone, socializing with neighbors, and hanging out with friends was a regular thing, but in that season, I sensed I needed to cut back on them.
However, that morning as I stared at my inbox, I realized my pendulum had swung too far. My face-to-face time with friends had been reduced to a minimum. And here I was, craving something more.
I was trying to fill a God-created need for real-life relationships with a white screen and black alphabet keys.
My heart craved something no amount of digital conversations could fill. So what did I do? I pulled out my phone and texted a friend who lives nearby who happened to be available. I told her what was going on and we decided to grab a quick, spontaneous lunch together.
Looking into a friend’s eyes, listening to each other talk, and being listened to; it was just what we both needed.
Jesus valued face-to-face connections, and surrounded Himself with intimate friends — His Father, His close friends John, Peter, and James and then the other nine disciples.
He also had friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. People He spent time with over meals and conversations about spiritual truths that applied to their everyday lives. Through His example we see how important it is to satisfy our craving for connection by spending face-to-face time with friends.
About a year ago, I started a new tradition — friends on Friday. Every week I carve out time to pull away from my computer and get together with friends who live nearby. Sometimes, I have to plan weeks in advance for face-to-face Friday times with a friend. But it’s worth it, and now it’s my favorite day of the week.
How often do you check email, Instagram, or Facebook in a given day?
Do you ever catch yourself checking more than once in a 3-4 hour span? Next time you do, ask yourself why? And then call a real-life friend, just to catch up. You’ll be glad you did.