An Unhealthy Dependence

One day last week I did the unthinkable: I left home for four long hours of activities and errands without my cell phone and my to-do list. The angst caused by this momentary absentmindedness while walking out the door was considerable. How would I be available for anyone who needed me? How would I stay connected with the outside world? And how would I ever stay on track with my errands? After all, my oldest daughter had promised to call that day to let me know that she was alive and well after her unusually long drive back to school from clinicals; my youngest needed to be able to contact me if she had an emergency; it was essential that I accomplish as much as possible while I was out to avoid having to take extra trips in Hawaii’s notoriously bad traffic. But after attempting for a while to justify the high anxiety level caused by a simple lack of cell phone and to-do list (which continued, by the way, even after I realized that my son, who was with me, had his cell phone!), I had to admit that it might point to a dependency problem.

Or perhaps, running even deeper than a dependency problem, my cell-phone addiction points to a faith problem. Because truthfully, me hearing that my oldest was alive and well would do nothing to actually ensure her safety—that phone call was all about assuaging her mother’s worry. And my youngest is perfectly capable of taking care of herself and calling 911 in an emergency. In reality, God is the only One who can protect my children from life’s dangers, and He has “marked out their appointed times in history (Acts 17:26).” He has a plan for their lives, no matter how long or short. My worry over the well being of my family should become instead a prayer of faith like that of Psalm 31:14-15a—“But I trust you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand…”

As far as staying connected to the outside world, I must say that I am so thankful for the social media that allows me to keep up with friends from assignments past and present, all over the world. I enjoy perusing the latest updates about their families and activities and in a small way being part of their lives. But do I allow myself to get so caught up in this alternate reality that I miss out on interacting with people right next to me? And am I so dependent on the approval of my social media friends that I feel a constant urge to see how many “likes” and comments I am up to on my latest post? If so, perhaps my goal to use social media to point others to Christ has turned instead into an exercise in stroking my own ego.

And that long docket of items that “needed” to get done immediately? There was not a single urgent matter on that list. For me, it was all about being able to check things off, of tangible evidence that I was in control of my own schedule and life. Without that to-do list driving me that day, I found myself praying, “God, please guide my steps for the next few hours. Help me to remember what is important and prioritize according to Your will.” What a refreshing, freeing approach–to take a step back from my Type A tendencies; to submit my will to God’s; to be willing to view life from His perspective for at least a few hours; to trust Him to accomplish His work through me instead of robotically driving myself to complete an inane agenda!

Lord, I thank you that you are in control of all things, including the health of my family and the events on my calendar. You are my Savior and Sustainer; help me to spend each day listening to You, wholly trusting You, and pointing others to You. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36).”

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