One by one the middle schoolers loaded into vehicles to take an overnight trip to Lake Swan.
As a parent chaperone, I remembered when my now 8th grader took her first Lake Swan trip two years ago. The same giggly excitement she had the night before back then was repeated two years later.
When we pulled out of the parking lot, I looked back to make sure all the “babies” (they’ll always be our babies, right?) were buckled up, and I quickly noticed tender differences from the shy 6th-grade little girl that once sat in the back seat to the 8th-grade teenager that now occupied the back seat with her friends.
Now she was more mature, confident, talkative, and had her own “mom-free” bubble that she shared with her peers. Periodically glancing from the rear-view mirror, it was beautiful to see her growth and intriguing to hear their conversations as I ear hustled from the front seat. With no electronic devices to distract the kids from one another, the car ride was full of life and conversation with intent.
I quickly realized how much the interactive car ride quenched a thirst within me and stirred up a depth of joy.
For the next twenty-four hours, the students had no access to an electronic device; there was not a TV to watch, a phone shoved in the back of a pant pocket, a portable game device, or even a radio to tune to. All we had was each other! We had each other to laugh, eat, make eye contact, try new things, make new friendships, worship, encourage, compete, strengthen bonds, and make memories that will last a lifetime “with each other.” Even the adult chaperones shared all these special moments with one another as well as with the students.
Today, all types of relationships can battle with the massive distractions of electronic devices and the tireless creep of the enemy’s disguises. I don’t know about you, but I have asked myself a time or two, “Am I fighting a battle that can’t be won?” Or “How do I create a healthy balance from all the negative impacts of electronic distractions?”
You will be happy to know there is an answer, you have already heard the answer, and you may have even practiced the answer. The answer is simply to become “Unplugged!” The most important thing I was reminded to do besides unplug, was to recognize and name the fulfilling joy of being PRESENT!
A great observation I was able to take away from the retreat was the victorious environment that existed between God’s children (including the adults because even as adults we will always be God’s children-you can’t tell me that doesn’t make you feel all warm and powerful inside!) as we fellowshipped together. I love the bible verse, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”- Proverbs 27:17.
I imagined us all as walking swords interacting and clanking together as we sharpened one another with our stories and shared time together. As Christian believers, we can sometimes forget that we need one another. We were not made to do this thing called “Life” by ourselves.
Gathering without distraction is a gateway to be resharpened for healing, restoration, hope, guidance, renewed faith, and being able to share God’s love just with our actions. Technology will continue to play a daily role in all our lives, I pray for each one of us that we are re-encouraged to take more time to be unplugged (even a little adjustment goes a long way in this situation).
Being a parent, I strive to sharpen with my children and want to be an example to them of how to sharpen with others. There is no instruction manual for this Life’s Journey, however, there is God’s word that we can put our full faith in and rely on to always work for our good! God’s wisdom is our armor, and it is the victorious weapon that we can pass on to our children and generations forward.
Let’s take time to be unplugged, be present, and dig into God’s word daily to stay sharpened. Next time you look into your rear-view mirror, I hope you are reminded of the other sword(s) that need you to help sharpen them for God’s glory.