I Don’t Want to Look Like an iPhone

[I wrote this article almost two years ago, so while the anecdotal stuff is no longer current, the emphasis of the article remains important.]

God got on a soapbox this week.

It started with a random email devotional from Desiring God ministries. I was curled in bed, determined to read the requisite “good stuff” before diving into the middle of my novel. The article by Tony Reinke was titled, “Six Ways Your iPhone is Changing You.”

Under the heading, “We become like what we behold”, Reinke wrote, “What we love to behold is what we worship. What we spend our time beholding shapes our hearts and molds us into the people we are. This spiritual truth is frightening and useful, but it raises the questions: What happens to our soul when we spend so much time beholding the glowing screens of our phones? How are we changed? How are we conformed?”

It’s kind of funny—God has used my eating disorder and the recovery process to shape me in so many ways; now most of what I learn and read is filtered through the lens of overcoming addiction, idolatry, fear, shame and the myriad other emotions connected to an eating disorder. I examined the article in that light.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself more distracted by new recipes, new workout routines, conversations about health and fitness, etc. I’ve subscribed to a few different YouTube channels with more yoga workouts. Somehow, (I really don’t know how the internet seems to read my mind) I’ve started to get random emails about this or that approach to my “best body ever!”

The cool things is, these stimuli don’t affect me in the same way they used to. I still eat all my meals. I have no interest in working out like a fanatic. For all practical purposes, I’m still healthy—and I’m happy. But I’ve also felt an internal shift, a change in my affections and focus, a difference in what my mind dwells on in moments of inactivity. I’ve been wasting valuable mental energy planning tomorrow’s workout. In the evening when my husband and I watch television together, I’ve been distracted by searching for new recipes or reading the blog by a new favorite fitness professional.

These little habit changes wouldn’t raise a red flag for most people. In fact, most would probably see them as a positive interest in health and good nutrition. But I know my heart, I know my tendencies. I know my proclivity to bend a knee and subtly worship my body and things that pertain to it.

I’m praying about this, asking God to reorient my priorities. I’m leaving the smart phone in the other room. Modern culture bombards me with a constant stream of information, images, suggestions and ideas—and I become what I behold. The longer that I gaze at any form of media, feasting my mind on culture’s obsession with appearance, I cannot help but begin to assume that mold.

I want to look like Christ, not a one-dimensional supermodel. I must divert my eyes from the colorful attractions and preferences of the world and fix them on Jesus.

“…let us strip off..the sin that so easily trips us up…We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1-2

All that glitters isn’t gold…

I am disgusted with myself. I feel like a million tiny spiders of world-life are spanning across my brain. I am awash in ankle-biter issues and things to do. Things, horrible, temporary, things I want. I have no needs, None. And yet my eyes are starry with the glittery things around me. All worthless pursuits become urgent.

This is going to get ugly. This week Blackberry (Rim technologies) experienced global spasms. Growing pains, I guess. Like the millions of other Blackberry owners, I could care less about the literal cause of their problems. I only cared that my phone suddenly failed to collect my emails. My calendar didn’t alert me to appointments and who knows how many phone calls bounced back into technosphere.

Rewind to last Friday. Patrick and I were enjoying breakfast at IHOP when he made the loaded observation that the iPhone is incredibly amazing. You know “everyone” we know has one and they’re “so much better” than our phones. Never mind that we were so excited to get smartphones less than a year ago. Time for an upgrade, right? The rest of that weekend I sleuthed through eBay and unauthorized websites for cheap deals on unlocked iPhones. In fact, I bought one on eBay before I panicked at my worldliness and lust for newness. I contacted the seller and begged him to cancel the transaction.

I survived a few more days ignoring the iPhone users around me, willing myself to be content with my Blackberry. Enter the global glitch. I was instantly convinced that my phone had failed, it must be a sign that I should buy a new phone – an iPhone! Then, when I realized it was a temporary, broader issue, I tried to believe that Blackberry is second-rate and I should still get a new phone.

I don’t know about you, but I can do mental gymnastics over silly decisions such as this. Really, it’s lust. “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2 Suddenly, conviction washed over me. How much time and energy I had wasted shopping around for a cheap new phone? I didn’t like what I saw in the rearview mirror of my day.

This “age” is littered with techno-crap. Who writes a to-do list anymore? We keep it on our smartphone. I can barely read a map (I hate to admit it) the GPS evolved in my lifetime. I don’t like phone conversations – why not email, text or use some other more removed mode of communication. I Need my coffeemaker, I Need my Kindle, I Need my cellphone, my mp3 player, my microwave – my buttons. Staples even coined the “Easy Button.” Isn’t that what we’ve all come to expect? Push-button happiness.

I wonder, has Satan used “progress” to distract us? We are progressively more absorbed by our things that our relationships are withering. And it’s not only our relationships with each other. It’s our relationship with God.

“The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues…” Marcus Aurelius