In fact, I pretty much figured that I would make it a week and fail miserably, jumping back onto Facebook or Twitter like an addict looking for a quick fix.
But that’s not what happened. I actually succeeded in disconnecting from email and my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram sites for 2 whole weeks!
My reason for doing this was simple: I decided that I needed to disconnect from email and social networking completely, during our family vacation to Florida, and focus my energy solely on my wife and children. I shared my complete thoughts on this before I left on March 31st. You can read the original post here.
It’s not that I think social networking, or email, or texting is bad. In fact, I’m a huge fan of social media and my iPhone. I just realized, personally, that I needed a break. I had not been doing a very good job of focusing on my family and it was time for a change. And since my blog is about parent confessions I felt it was necessary (and helpful) to make this a public thing. Besides, I needed the accountability. Believe me, that’s exactly what I got.
As the 2 weeks progressed I jotted down one-word lessons that described what I was learning. Because I am by nature an unfocused, easily distracted person, one-word descriptions were all I could handle and still keep pace.
Let me be honest with you: this was not easy at all. In fact, it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever attempted. However, It did get easier as the time progressed. I needed to do this because I have failed so many times in the past, especially on family vacations where I was supposed to be present with my family and disconnected from everything back home.
Here are the 5 (one-word) lessons I learned on my 2-week fast:
For the first time in a very long time (sad-to-say), I had uninterrupted time with my wife and children. I went for long walks with them. I played games with them. I built sand-creations on the beach (I have no idea how to build a good sand-castle so I’ll leave it at “creations”). I decided to turn my phone off and leave it back at our vacation house everyday. Sometimes, I would be away from it for 5 to 8 hours in length. Guess what- the world didn’t implode and no virus went airborne and turned everyone into zombies. In other words- the world didn’t end!
I also feel strongly that our time away allowed me to get to know my family on a deeper level. I listened to their hearts, heard their stories, and experienced their thoughts and feelings. I actually had time for this. And it is the most important thing to give my time to.
On the 3rd day of our vacation my wife looked at me and said, “I’ve noticed that you hear me the first time I say something to you.” I knew right away that the reason for this was that I was paying more attention to what other people had to say (over email, text, Twitter or Facebook) than what the most important person in my life had to say. This was a huge lesson learned! I learned the value of focus.
My think space was opened up tremendously by me having no idea what was being said back home over email, in particular. I had so many fresh thoughts on life, my family, my ministry, my calling and more. Email tends to draw me in and suck up my brain power. I knew there would be plenty of time for that when I returned home.
I had margin in my schedule to rest and relax. I wasn’t rushed, at all! We didn’t hustle around from site to site or place to place. We took our time. We took naps. We walked slow. We slept in. This was a very nice change of pace.
Several times on our vacation I stood on our back porch, or on the beach, or as I walked our dog, and inhaled deeply. I find that I don’t do that very often. It was refreshing and fulfilling. Many times, in the hustle and bustle of my life, I feel a pressure on my breathing. It’s a restriction. I don’t devote enough time to taking deep breaths. I learned that I need to apply this to my everyday life.
Here’s a picture of us at one of our favorite places in the world- The City Pier on Anna Maria Island in Florida-
The most powerful thought I had, toward the end of our vacation, was this: At the end of the day, ALL that matters is that my wife and children know they are the MOST important people on this planet to me. I want them to know they are more important than my job, my Facebook friends, my Twitter followers, my LinkedIn connections, or anything (or anyone) else I tend to give mass attention to.
I have been renewed in the way I see social networking verses the way I see my family. I’m still on social networks and I still have email. I still send and receive texts as well. But, I’m learning when to stop, shut the phone off, close the laptop down, and devote uninterrupted time to my family. The key word there is “learning.” It’s a step by step process!
How about you? Any lessons learned? Share in the comment section now.