Disconnecting to Connect

 In Pastor Jeff's Blog

Don’t just stare at a screen watching other people live their lives. Don’t spend your time double-tapping a picture of friends laughing together when you could be laughing with someone in real life. Don’t mistake the emptiness of staring at a screen for feeling connected. – Alexa Cortese

I just returned from my annual bike trip across Iowa. There are so many things l love about this experience. Seeing old friends. The way riding a bike connects me to the scenery in ways that driving never could. The sheer physical challenge of the journey. The simplicity of pedal, eat pie, sleep, repeat.

But this year what I noticed most was the way in which disconnecting from technology created more space for connecting with people. Truth is, my cell phone doesn’t work in many of the rural areas through which we pedaled. My phone never rang. I didn’t check e-mail. I only used my smartwatch for tracking my mileage. The experience made me realize how tightly tethered my attention is to a technological leash.

And what did I do with all that time I wasn’t staring at a screen? I met people from Pittsburgh and Peoria, New York, New Jersey and New Mexico. I met teachers, carpenters, parents and plumbers. I even met the honorable mayor of Neola, IA. And I felt connected to the beautiful buffet of humanity in ways I haven’t for some time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Luddite. I like technology. A lot. Heck, it gives me an opportunity to connect with you, dear reader! But this glorious week reminded me that sometimes you need to disconnect in order to connect.

Now stop staring at this screen and go have a conversation with someone!

Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.

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