I love to read. I always have.
But for the past few years, my book reading has declined drastically. (Which, I understand is hilarious because I write books for my job. Sheesh.)
Wheras I used to be the girl who felt my wrist give way under the weight of a heavy book as I fell asleep, I am now the girl who gets cranked in the forehead by my iPhone if I dose off while still scrolling or searching or watching or pinning.
Whereas I used to be the girl who would maneuver around while drying my hair to make sure a book stayed open so I could somehow keep reading, I now blow-dry with one hand and text with the other.
I’ve been more tired lately, more tired than I’ve ever known. And being that I am single with no children, I really have no other human to give credit to my tiredness. But I think I’m tired because I never get off the hamster wheel that is the world wide web.
I keep wondering why.
Why am I so tired? And why have I quit reading?
I keep wondering if they are connected.
I miss reading books. I miss choosing quiet moments with characters on pages because I can’t walk away from the characters on Twitter. I regret how I’ve chosen to use my time — caring more about being connected than giving my brain some Sabbath and feeling the rest that comes with the turning of a page.
I’m exhausted because I’m taking no time to exhale and somewhere deep in me, I don’t put down my phone until my eyelids close because the quiet will make me think and feel and for some reason, I’m avoiding that.
I’m unpacking this right along with you, figuring out my own fear and my own way of dealing, and how what I thought was protecting me is actually wearing me down.
Jesus didn’t intend for me to live this way. This isn’t the abundant life from John 10:10. I don’t think Jesus is anti-Instagram or a hater of social media, but I promise you He is anti-self-inflicted-exhaustion. And He can’t be a big fan of me avoiding quiet.
So I said some words in prayer about all of this and then I made a plan.
I moved my phone across the room and I kicked all other technology out of my room. I grabbed a few books I have long been meaning to read and the last two issues of Real Simple magazine. As I laid down to read last night, my skin crawled and I wondered what was happening on Facebook and I thought, “I should just check one more time” (but I didn’t) and then I realized . . . I really have a problem.
So I said some more words in prayer, asking Jesus to make new the broken places and to give me the courage to face whatever the things are that I am not willing to look at by the light of a bedside table.
I went to bed without checking my phone, and I slept better than I have in a really long time.
Here’s to a healthier heart and a more rested mind.
by Annie F. Downs
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
You are not alone…I have found the same holds true for me. I had to make a very conscientious decision to put down the phone in the evening. After dinner…no social media. I do find that I sleep much better if my mind isn’t so engaged. My goal, as well, is to read more, scroll less. I love to read, but it’s so much easier to pick up the phone and fiddle. I’m going to the beach and I’m packing books and plan to set the phone aside and rekindle my love of reading. I also am looking forward to long walks at sunrise with God along the beach. The phone will not be joining us :). Joining with you in your “more books – less phone” campaign!
Rachel @ Smart Mom Smart Ideas says
I agree. Everyday I plan to read books and complete other goals, but I get busy reading emails and posting and time just gets away from me. Thanks for sharing and for the reminder to reset my priorities.
Tracy in NJ says
With you! the whole “connectivity” thing is getting just plain scary. Especially when I look at the effects it is having on young chldren vying for their mama’s (undivided…which is basically never) attention. I think if we (yes I surely do include myself) would actually log the time we spend we would be shocked. Can You imagine the effects if we would spend even 10% of that time in prayer? Closing on that note and out to weed my (real life) garden
Laura Rath says
I’ve been realizing the same thing. Books I want to read sit while I waste time checking email or social media one last time before bed. I power down my Kindle at night, and have been trying to make myself do it even earlier, so I can read (or go to sleep earlier) and not be tempted to keep checking. Great reminder that we need time away from staring at screens.
Beth Williams says
I may not be a reader like most of you, but I agree. People need to turn off social media, TV, etc. and give their mind a rest. It is amazing how much time we spend with emails, texts, etc. and not focusing on “real” life. We could and should spend more time in prayer, with family, just walking around and relaxing your mind. Once the mind is relaxed we can sleep much better. We can’t sleep well if our minds are racing with what she said, what’s on Facebook, etc. God wants us to be still and know!
Jackie A says
I used to be like this; I am a much better woman when I read just for me. Thank you for sharing your heart.
I loved this. I feel as though I have found “my people”. Not only do I not read as much but I don’t clean as much, craft as much, etc. The really crazy thing about scrolling and pinning and reading that last email is, at least in my world, it’s not doing anything for me. So I see what so and so ate for dinner – do I really care? Do I sleep better because the last thing I read was about another shooting this time in Louisiana? I use my phone and my ipad as a way to procrastinate and end of missing out and wasting precious time. I am going to follow Annie and make a firm rule – no social media after dinner! Thanks for writing a wonderful article.
Kim Garbison says
Caroline Blackman says
Amen, amen. A thousand amens!
WOW – this too is where I am. Love to read. Have books piled by the side of the bed, including library books I renew, rerenew, rererenew etc. Yet, I don’t crack the covers as I can’t seem to stop checking FB before closing my light and eyes for sleep. I am married, but my husband works out of state, so mostly go to bed alone. It has been a frustration of late I seem to fritter away time scrolling and surfing – even for good purpose, but get nothing of meaning accomplished. At the end of every day, I am exhausted and despite getting the work done for which I am paid and some housework, find my “white space” time has been stolen by mindless activity. It’s clearly time for me to disconnect more and not be so curious about the lives of others. Yet, my activity has revealed I am addicted to the linear communication via the web…. so I need to break the addiction – not even sure how it happened in the first place. Is it replacing community for me?
heather marshall says
YES!! I was exhausted right there with you until I made some serious changes last week too. ♥ It helped that our internet was down as well… LOL!
This is so me! I used to read a couple books a week, and now I can’t even remember the last time I finished a book in its entirety. I feel guilty about it, since I know I have no excuse other than wasting my time elsewhere (darn internet & Netflix…). Thanks for writing such an honest post–it makes me feel a lot less alone, and a lot more inspired to change my ways. Thank you!
I am glad you are cutting down on the electronic communications as it tends to stifle creativity and direct contact with people rather than a hasty text message. I’ve resisted texting as I feel it should only be for emergency contact and leaves misinterpretation if the message is too long or too abrupt. I have seen it fracture the relationship between my two sisters during a critical time when there should have been face to face or at least verbal exchange during my Mom’s last days. I applaud your decision to re-connect to the real world and find time to read a good book and get some great sleep!
Annie, first off, I had to laugh when I read how you used to (and now maybe are again?) find ways to dry your hair and still keep a book open to read. That’s sooooo me. My family laughs at me because I read when I’m getting ready in the morning and brushing my teeth at night. I don’t have a lot of time for reading, so I maximize what I can. 😉
You are so right that we tend to get caught up in the lure of “connecting” on social media. Feeling connected via a screen does tend to drain my energy for real-life interactions. Sometimes it distracts me from really connecting with my boys. And from doing what I love: writing. I’m learning to keep the email inbox closed, turn off notifications and to give myself permission to just rest.
Reading still doesn’t happen a ton; it’s the season of life. But I try to read when I can. And I applaud you for getting back to giving your mind a Sabbath rest. We all need that!
Lina Rochette Hill says
Thanks Annie! I, too, have a problem… thankfully I have only joined FB and none of the others. That is already enough most of the time! I do read though. A Lot! but I can see how that silly FB urge creeps into my consciousness far too much. May God help us all curb our dreadful habit! Best, Lina
Gay Idle says
Yes. Yes. And YES! I’ve been feeling the tug to unplug! I love to read and have a mountain of books to get to. It’s time! Thanks for the honesty and the nudge to get with it!
I seriously have been experiencing the exact same thing! I have a pile of books waiting to be read, I actually took 2 to Uganda with me last month but didn’t get far in them because I was exhausted emotionally & physically from seeing & doing & serving & crying & loving on the amazing people of Uganda. When I returned, of course I was different. I go all day without turning on a TV. I haven’t posted much on social media & I’m seriously considering deactivating my FB. I’ve finished one of those books & have started the next. So yes, I do believe the two are connected in a not so healthy way. Thanks for sharing….and that reminds me, I need to add one of your books to my reading pile!!
I am going through the same exact thing. The same exact thing…God is definately trying to tell me something. Thanks for writing.
Ann Gemmel says
So resonate with your sentiment. I am right with you. However, it’s even more complicated for us ladies over 50 as with all the hormones changing, my concentration capacity/focus is so much less than even 7 years ago. I feel like all those “sound bites”, short posts and tweets make reading a chapter seem more like an endurance race than a light and refreshing lap around the track. I too hope to take intentional steps
to return to lengthier and more focused reading of actual books!
Encourage my daughter single, RN, very proper, christian girl, knows how to take care of a house and finances,where are the single, not married, Christian men? The iphone is her best friend, it stays true, always there, security, entertainment, brings peace with music, scripture, devotions. She is 29 and feels that she is lonely in a busy people world. She workd ER in a big city. My prayers hold her up, but I want someone to take care of her in human form. Who will treat her with respect and love her to the end of life.