Flourishing in the Discipline of Unplugging

By Colonel Genevera Vincent

When our two sons acquired their first cell phones, these devices came with some rules; one being that they were not permitted at the dinner table. We didn’t allow texting with friends during the dinner meal as this was our family time. It took a few reminders that texting with friends could wait as we ate together and talked about the events of the day. However, it didn’t take long for the message to get through and it really was not a problem for them. Even if it didn’t make sense to our sons at first, they eventually understood that we needed everyone to unplug for a few minutes before we were out the door again, on the way to band practice or some other activity. It was a lesson I’m glad we taught and a rule I’m glad we enforced.

In this age of instant messaging, unplugging from our devices is an extremely difficult thing to do. We send a text message and we want an instant answer. We write an email and, if we haven’t received an answer in the same day, we either feel ignored or we worry that our email didn’t get through. We debate the ills of always being constantly connected, but we fall prey to it repeatedly. When we talk about “unplugging” as a spiritual discipline, we are talking about more than unplugging from phone messages or emails, though they are a big part of it, I believe. If you Google the question, “What does it mean to unplug in life?”, someone shared,

“Unplugging is a disconnection from the chaos of life which comes in multiple forms – one being
an over-reliance on social media. It’s not the device’s fault, but the choice of the user who
feels somehow living plugged into someone else’s life gives them satisfaction.”

I personally look forward to opportunities to unplug and have moments to just breathe. I have never felt the need to let people know what I am doing every moment of the day. The only time I’m interested in what someone is having for dinner is when I’m invited! Apart from that, I don’t sense a real need to view on Facebook what other people are eating…it just makes me hungry!

In chapter 6 of Mark’s gospel, Jesus and his disciples were busy with the activities of ministry. Jesus had sent out his disciples two-by-two to preach the gospel of repentance. According to verse 12, they “drove out demons and anointed many who were sick.” In verse 30, the group has come back together and reported to Jesus all that they had been doing. Seeing that they were tired and hungry, Jesus recognized the need for his followers to “unplug”. He said to them in verse 31, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Now if you read this passage, you will notice that the people ran ahead of them, the chaos continued, and the feeding of the five thousand ensued. We often read this passage and it’s the feeding of the five thousand that we focus on. Let’s not forget Jesus’ invitation here. When we’re tired from all the “doing,” Jesus invites us to “unplug” and take time to rest and to be renewed.

When we’re tired from all the “doing,” Jesus invites us to “unplug” and take time to rest and to be renewed.

Colonel Genevera Vincent

On another occasion in Matthew 11;28-30, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Following the leading of Jesus, it’s important that we “unplug” and allow our souls to find rest.

Ministry is demanding and often difficult. Without taking moments to “unplug,” his yoke and his burden seem anything but easy and light! It’s amazing though how we can approach a difficult task, following moments of rest, and successfully “unplugging”. When we feel rejuvenated and rested, that difficult meeting or conversation somehow seems more manageable. The yoke and the burden seem a little easier and lighter. In simple terms, unplugging is a choice. If we don’t carve out time to “unplug” it will never happen. The business and busyness of our lives will constantly drive us to do more.

In this age of instant messaging, we need more than ever to heed the invitation of Jesus to go to a quiet place and get some rest. That will certainly look different for individual people. Taking a walk, reading a book, sitting quietly and breathing in the quietness, and listening to worship music are all ways we can “unplug” from the chaos of life and find rest. So, take the time and make the effort to incorporate moments to “unplug” into your life and you will not regret it. You will actually flourish!

So, will you please excuse me…I need a moment to “unplug” and finish my cup of tea.