Over Thanksgiving break, I did something that may be unthinkable to some of you: I went off the grid.
OK, I didn’t really give up all electricity. But I did shut down electronically. I powered down my computer and went off Facebook, email, blog reading, and text messaging. For three whole days I didn’t even take a peek at the internet (gasp!). I set up an email auto-response telling people that I was offline for the weekend, and that if they truly needed to reach me, they should call my home phone. There were a couple times when I had to use my iPhone (e.g., to text a parent that I would be giving her child a ride home from an event), but other than that I maintained my commitment to stay offline.
I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure how it would affect me. But I had a very clear sense on Wednesday evening that it was something I needed to do. After an extremely busy season of our move, kids’ activities, and social events, I felt God calling me to unplug and re-center. And the minute I made the decision and throughout the weekend, I felt a peace I hadn’t experienced in weeks.
What did I do instead? I prayed. I pondered. I journaled, a lot: lists, confessions, realizations, ideas. I read, a lot — my Bible, for starters, finishing the New Testament a month ahead of my reading schedule — and I completed several other books, including the exceptional Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley. I slept and caught up on much-needed rest. I exercised as usual. I watched several movies, including “Lincoln” and “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” I enjoyed meals with friends, including a bountiful Thanksgiving feast. I played Euchre, Spades and Taboo. I watched a little (but very little) basketball and football. And I especially savored the gifts of focused and unhurried time and conversation with Dave and the boys.
On Sunday night, I told Dave I wasn’t sure I was ready to end my technology fast. After decompressing so significantly, I had to ease gradually back into email and the internet. And coming out of the weekend, I have committed to making some changes in my online consumption and communication so that they remain in their proper place: helpful tools, not distractions or masters.
I know that it will always be a challenge for me to remain on-top of being online. But an extended weekend off the grid has reminded me of the importance of the truly important.