It is three o’clock p.m., and both of my children are gloriously napping at the same time. The hour that I have been awaiting has arrived, and I now find myself facing the surprising dilemma of what to do with my alone time for the next half an hour.
My first instinct of course draws me to the internet, and to the wonderful world of inspiring blogs, online shopping, and pages and pages of recipes and crafts. There is so much to be seen, read, and discovered online that I sometimes don’t know where to start.
Other times I know exactly where to start: with my Facebook feed. Something there may catch my eye, and I proceed to discover a wonderful article which inspires me and whose points resonate in my mind for the rest of the day. If this happens, it is a good day.
Other days, I may find that my precious half an hour disappears in front of me, and I feel perhaps more envious of others, definitely more tired, and more disillusioned with my day as a result of scrolling through my screen. Perhaps some mothers may not have even a half an hour a day to themselves. But if we’re honest, we usually find time to do some online browsing I think?
Does this scenario sound familiar? I will confess my addiction, and be the first to say that I love the internet. I remember the day my dad first installed it in our basement (a story that I can’t wait to tell to my grandkids someday!), and I remember the thrill of sending emails and chatting with friends as a teenager.
Now as a stay at home mother, I love the many ideas floating around, the homeschool forums, new recipes, easily accessible information, and most of all, the social aspects which allow me to connect with distant friends and family. Honestly, I can’t imagine my life without the virtual world, and that is what scares me.
Often I wonder: should we be scared? My own grandmother, and even my mother, did not have either the joys or the temptations of the internet at her fingertips each day. Was she more focused on what was in front of her because of it? I am not here to say yes or no; obviously every time and culture faces unique circumstances and trials.
But everything in me clamors and shouts that I should defend my need of this social outlet, my need of entertainment, and of all of the other wonderful and informative articles and music which I come across every day. But a small voice inside me continues to pressure: Do I need this right now more than I need God?
Where is my treasure, and where is my heart? Why do I need it so much when the entire history of mothers did not have such an experience, and were still able to live happy and fulfilled lives, lives which ultimately brought them closer to God?
Where is prayer?
I guess it’s a lot of questions. I do believe that God has called me to this time of history for a specific reason. I 100% agree that we should be online and evangelizing through social media. But why do I still worry? What if I limit myself to only good, inspiring, even Catholic blogs?
A reason for my doubt is this: Where, I ask myself, is prayer found in my day? Remember, if there is no prayer, then there is no direct contact with God. If there is no direct contact with God, how in Heaven’s name do I expect to find peace in my life or to become a saint?
All of the spiritual reading out there tells us that prayer is essential for growing in holiness; yet, I will substitute an hour of prayer and meditation for a great online article. And yes, many blog posts are both inspiring and spiritual. But still, it is easier for me to hop online and read a great piece, instead of cracking open my Bible, creating silence in my soul, and trying to listen to God.
Perhaps He does want to speak to me through a beautiful online story, or perhaps He wants to speak to me directly today. I only hope that I am available to hear Him, and am not too busy trying to inspire myself with something that I find online.
I am in no way discouraging online reading. I love the ability it gives us to share our thoughts and ideas, and to inspire one another and create community. This is only a reflection on the fact that I like to accomplish things. For me, there is a sense of accomplishment in reading something valuable, or writing, crafting, or cooking.
The sense of accomplishment is a kind of reward, especially for moms who spend most of the hours in the day entertaining little children. Spending time in silence and in prayer may not yield a feeling of reward or accomplishment.
But what it hopefully does yield is a more peaceful and loving soul, one which continues through the day in closer union with God. There is much good to be had from our online world, but these goods cannot replace the spiritual good of quieting our bodies and our minds and drawing close to our Lord. If I realize that I emerge more tired and overwhelmed after my half hour online, then I should reassess whether or not it really is the best use of my time.
I am concerned because I recognize the hold which technology has on our culture, and I want my children to become saints and not miss the voice of God due to the distraction of technology and social media. As Mother Teresa touched the face of every sick person, she truly saw them and was present to their soul.
I hope all of us yearn to be present to our families and to God, even if this means constantly reevaluating screen time vs. spiritual face-to-face time.
Elderly Lady Photo © Monkey Business Images / Dollar Photo Club