“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” Proverbs 21:21

Limit “screen time” for “face-to-face time.”

In a world of consistent connectivity through text, Skype, Facebook, and other social platforms, we are connected to everyone and no one at the same time. More than ever people experience “displacedness,” loss of belonging or at home in a particular place. This loss of belonging is very significant to human’s sense of identity. God created humans as embodied souls, meaning that we are designed from the creation of the world to connect with others “face-to-face.” While connecting with friends and family at the touch of a figure tip does have value, it cannot replace the deep need of all humans for “face-to-face” time. Some of our favorite memories are not Skype or Facebook conversations, but sharing a meal with friends, watching our daughter’s first dance recital, going to a baseball game, or building a sandcastle. When we put our screens in a basket or turn them off, we tell our loved ones that they are a priority. The exchange of love in relationships anchors our soul, cultivating an inner reserve of strength to face any situation with our “band” of brothers and sisters to cheer us on and lift us up in difficult circumstances.

Embrace your “real” self vs. “edited” or “screen” self.

The “real” you is the one that God created in His image and afterwards said that “it was very good’ (Genesis 1:31). The word for “good” in Hebrew means “desirable” or “beautiful.” Nothing you can do can make God love you more or less because He has loved you from his first thought of you and chose you before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). He does not care if you have the perfect family vacation or the most exciting life documented on Facebook or Instagram. He loves the real you: with dirty hair and holding dirty diapers, anxious and frustrated by your circumstances, insecure about your weight or your children not measuring up to their peers, and even when you are angry about bad things occurring in your life, family, or the world. When you stop worrying about the self that you are projecting to the world and focus more on who God is and who you are in His eyes, then you will become more comfortable with your image in the mirror than your social media image.

Prioritize time to nourish and refresh your mind and body.

Connection to our devices prevents us from cultivating our inner lives through silence and solitude. When we disconnect from our devices, the virtual noise is silenced, and this opens up the opportunity to hear words of wisdom, reflect on life circumstances, work out problems, and receive and give love. Scheduling time to exercise 2-3 times a week benefits our well-being: socially, emotionally, and physically. The endorphins released in exercise fuels us up with energy and strength.

Say “no” to immediate gratification.

“No” can be the hardest word to say in our culture of spectacle and fear of missing out. When we say “yes” to many things, we are saying that we do not know how to prioritize our time and we are okay with mediocrity. We must say “no” in order to say “yes” to something else. We simply cannot do everything well, and the choice to say “no” helps us avoid stress and burnout. Saying “yes” to something that gains others acclaim may not be your best choice in the long-term. Instead, say “yes” to the needs right before you that might not be as glamorous. FOMG (Fear of Missing God) triumphs FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Lastly, do not let others steal your joy.

 -Mary Carmen Englert