When my husband and I were married (14 years ago this month), we set a goal to visit America's National Parks. We haven't made it too far into our list during those years (with hopefully plenty more years to visit). But, we have enjoyed the parks we've already visited and fortunately our family just added two more to the list. The three of us escaped to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks this past week. The weather was perfect and the trip was beautiful!
But, I really do mean it when I say escaped. Life here is wonderfully blessed but we've been so busy lately. Too busy. The busy things on the list are all good - well, mostly good. We try to take time to sit down and have meals together, talk to each other, and be active as a family. But, it seems like this summer has practically flown by and I realized that we've missed out on being present more than I would have liked.
Anyway, we unplugged and escaped and I also mean TRULY unplugged. There was no television, internet or cell phone service in most of the areas of these parks. You couldn't distract yourself with Tweets if you tried. And, I tried. Once I broke the habit of checking for service, I let out this huge sigh of relief. The pressure was off, I didn't have to keep up or know what everyone else was doing. I did not have to post images of my trip for the world to see (no one really cares about what I had for breakfast anyway, do they?) and I don't know why but I think I was afraid something was going to happen that I was not going to know about and then I realized the alternative. I realized I was momentarily failing at something (savoring and enjoying the journey) that I have turned into a calling. I realized I must slow down, relax, enjoy God's peace, and savor this trip. I needed to chill out. And guess what? The silence was beautiful.
Our family bought a deck of cards (of course I packed all the chargers for our electronics but didn't think about a deck of cards). I listened to my child. I was answered by my husband with his eyes (and not the top of his head as he caught up on the news from his tweets). We made up card games because I couldn't even access Google in order to find the proper "rules" for our card games and guess what? It was awesome!!
I admit this temptation because I realize like other addictions, they can easily take over if we let them (and surely I'm not the only one). Social media and communication is constant and I love it. Did I mention that I love it? I am a learner and a sharer and social media is a great tool.
But, I'm realizing at times I do allow it to suck the peace opportunities away from me. I let it distract me from life too much. I let it soak up golden opportunities for silence. Now, it is true I find moments of peace and encouragement on social media. I've connected with wonderful new friends and old friends alike thanks to social media. It is also true that I share moments of peace on social media. But, at the same time, those social media "highs" can distract me from life opportunities and they surely don't allow me to be still (if you click this link you'll see I wrote about being still before we left and I still missed the boat). If I am not careful, so much can take me away from true conversations and the stillness I crave. Note to self: the concept is to be still, not be still while I read tweets. So, I'm sorry if I've done that to you. Yellowstone and the Tetons didn't let me, they demanded the attention their scenery deserved and now I hope to carry those less-distracted adventures right back home with me. I hope to give God and others the attention they deserve. After all, God made your beauty too!
By the way, this isn't a new concept I'm on to. There are quite a few bloggers who ironically spend there time on social media talking about how they need to unplug from social media. I'm not harping on them for that irony. Rather, I'm thanking them for the reminders!
So, it's with more questions than answers that I return from a beautiful land out West in our country. We saw amazing animals, gorgeous scenery, and the pupils in each others eyes. I want to carry those moments back home, I don't want to miss God's beauty. I want us to break open the game cabinet, put away our distractions, and find peace in our living room.
Today I had a lunch date with our son and purposely did not take my phone out of my bag. And, our 9 year-old is also implementing a weekly mandatory game night and I think that's a great start for our family! Yet, I'm still tempted and know I have some work to do myself. I don't think I'm ready for the extreme like ditching my smart phone (although I resisted a long time and now I think I know why).
What are your thoughts or ideas? Anyone feel as vulnerable as me on this journey toward peace? Anyone out there as tempted as me to escape the to do list or the lines or the boring moments of life (and sometimes the good moments of life) with the latest newsfeed or photos? Anyone out there let the to do list rule the day instead of lunch moments and a deck of cards? Is it just me? Please tell me, it isn't just me!
So, thank you to our National Parks for not only the scenery, but for the encouragement to unplug and enjoy the grandeur of our earth with my family. It was great! I'm ready to live into this life more fully with my family each day, not just in our National Parks. Thank you also to a new friend whose book is loaded in my Kindle (to help motivate us not to let our adventurous trip fizzle away and claim those moments more regularly). And, I'm going to log off rather than get sucked in to whether or not you read or comment on this post (although if you do, that would make logging back on a lot more fun). After-all, I realize blogging is not what life is all about. Life is about savoring these moments together before they slip away. It just so happens that for me, blogging about these moments, helps me process and savor them a while longer.
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC