COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – “I was coming home fried. I was way too distracted. I couldn’t play with my grandchildren for more than five minutes without checking my phone. I was way over-connected,” author, counselor and outdoorsman, John Eldredge, explained, to North Michigan Christian Voice, about why he wrote his latest book, “Get Your Life Back.”
The other problem he noticed was soul care. He wasn’t spending enough time with God. There just wasn’t enough time.
John talked with friends and learned they too were having similar problems. Hobbies they once enjoyed and helped them relax had been shelved. They felt like they were always on the go. And they were waking up in the morning still tired.
John Eldredge began researching how technology has impacted our lives. “We’re spending three hours a day using apps on our phones, 10 hours viewing media, consuming enough information each week to crash a laptop,” he notes.
“Jesus gets us going [toward His goal for us] one step at a time. If you want to make real changes in your life, you can’t set the bar too high. During New Year’s we make all these resolutions and most of that stuff doesn’t last. We expect too much of ourselves.”
So, as John gave this prayer and consideration, he felt Christ speaking to him. “John, you never stop. You just go. I want you to just learn to pause in your day. Become aware of My Presence again. Just a simple pause.’”
“So, I began to practice this. I would just do it when I pulled in the driveway. Just let everything go.”
The pause was to stop, to recognize God and give everything over to him. These pauses worked so well for him, he began sharing the idea with his friends and his team at Ransom Heart Ministries. Through this, a free app was developed, the One Minute Pause (now available on your app store), a guided prayer which allows to people to let go and focus on Christ again.
Since the pandemic started, Ransom Hearts Ministries is seeing a thousand people a day downloading the One Minute Pause.
“We built this app long before the pandemic hit, but this app is so tailor-made for this moment. We also have a 3-minute, a 5-minute and a 10-minute pause built into this experience. And you can choose which you want to do.
“I honestly thought no one would ever use the 10-minute app. Ten minutes. That’s like a vacation. Asking people to give their attention to God for 10 minutes seems like a lot. But, during the pandemic, the 10-minute pause is one of the most popular options.”
Another helpful practice John has learned which he talks about in the book is benevolent detachment. He notes the human mind was not made to take in all the problems of the world. However, that is just what the news media and social media are doing to us. This overload of empathy for situations across the globe is creating what psychologists call compassion fatigue in people, a mental issue usually showing up in caretakers. In essence, we get worn out caring too much about situations we have no control over.
Benevolent detachment is where a person learns to separate himself or herself from the constant barrage of hopeless situations. It includes turning off the TV, limiting your time on social media, cell phones and so forth. It also includes getting out into nature on a regular basis.
Health care workers have long known the benefits of receiving flowers or having a garden out a person’s hospital window in helping with the healing process. It is known a 20-minute walk through the woods will lower a person’s stress levels.
John reminds us the first people were created to live in a garden. King David, in the Bible, talks about going into nature to restore his soul in popular Psalm 23. Jesus Himself would retreat into nature for restoration. His place was the wilderness or desert. Most of us here in Northern Michigan would take to the forests, maybe a place along the river.
Many times however, people turn to the virtual rather than the natural world. John refers these two choices as relief versus restoration.
“Relief is momentary; it’s checking out, numbing, sedating yourself. Television is relief. Eating a bag of cookies is relief. And let’s be honest — relief is what we reach for because it’s immediate and usually within our grasp. Most of us turn there when what we really need is restoration. Nature heals. Nature restores.
“We have developed a very sophisticated, comfort culture here in the West. We can watch whatever TV show we want, whenever we want it, on demand. We can watch hours of it. We can go on Amazon and order anything. We have created an entirely artificial world around us.”
Research has shone too much screen time can have damaging effects on the human psyche. Too much screen time has actually destroyed people’s attention span. It has become more difficult for people to focus on anything for more than a few minutes.
John recommends getting away from the screen by putting a puzzle together, reading a book, listening to beautiful music, playing a board game. And if someone wants to watch TV, turn to nature shows, which are more relaxing.
“Because of these practices, I am doing well during this time of the coronavirus. My wife Staci is doing well. Our souls are being enriched.
“I can give God my attention now. I can enjoy just sitting and reading Scripture. I don’t need to check my phone.”
All of these and other ideas on how to improve your life, now during the pandemic and even afterward, read John’s book, “Get Your Life Back.” It is available now either for order or purchase at Beginning to Ending Christian Bookstore in Lewiston; the Family Bookshelf, Fairview; or Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord.
WAYS TO MAKE CHANGE AWAY FROM SCREEN TIME
Take time to get to a quiet place and read from the Bible. Let God show you what He wants you to learn.
Pray to God about what is causing your anxiety.
Go to into the woods, sit by a stream, or even a garden and just sit and watch nature. Let it restore you.
Go for a brief walk.
Go for a drive in the woods.
Listen to beautiful music.
Read a book.
Put a puzzle together.
Play a board game.
Write a letter to someone instead of emailing them.
Draw or write a poem. You don’t have to be great at these. Just do it for fun.
Watch a nature program on TV.