God Cut my Cable

“DETACHED.”
 
In our era 24/7 connectedness, it’s not a superlative to which many aspire.  In fact, if anyone called me “detached,” I’d be insulted.  I bet you would be, too.  
 
But, is being detached such a bad thing?
 
We make fun of our grandparents because they still use AOL as their internet service provider, use a phone with a physical keyboard, and (re)share recipes on Facebook like Martha Stewart has a gun to their heads. 
 
But… 
 
Is it possible that we’re too connected?
Could we be too available to too many?
Are the dozens of ways that virtually anyone can access us at anytime causing more relational erosion than construction?
 
I’m no fuddy duddy.  Well…I don’t think I am.
 
I love technology.  
I love being connected with people…a lot of people. 
I love social media.
I love the tools at our disposal to see through the small portholes of others’ worlds…and doing the same for those who care to peek into mine.
 
But…
 
I wonder if being present to so many, so often is killing our ability to be available to those who matter most.
 
Because the people we’re with are those we love the most.  They’re our best friends.  They’re our family. They’re our kids.  And our neighbors.  They’re the acquaintances who might have become friends, if our attention was a bit less divided.  
 
Emojis are great, but they’re no substitute for the sound of laughter, the tone of someone’s voice, or eye contact from someone who’s hanging on our every word.
 
I’ve been ruminating on this for awhile, often feeling like I’m losing the battle of being present.
 
I want to be the kind of friend who listens well.
I want to be the kind of father who soaks up this fleeting time with my kids.
I want to be the husband who can sit in a room with my wife, and just be – no distractions.  Just present.
 
I bet you do, too.
 
What if we cast “detachment” in a not-so-bad light?  
What if we allowed ourselves to be detached so we could more deeply attach?
 
Meister Eckhard said that detachment “enkindles the heart, awakens the spirit, stimulates our longings, and shows us where God is.”
 
Heart aflame.  Check.
Spirit awakened.  Check.
Longings stirred.  Check.  Check.
God near.  That, too.
 
Sounds pretty good to me.  Maybe I could get used to this detachment thing.
 
I have to confess – it’s not the theologian or philosopher that catalyzed this conversation.  What began all of this was God cutting my cable.
 
Twice.  Within 2 weeks.
 
While technically it was the dude on the Bobcat doing construction next door, I think God was making a not so subtle hint.  As usual,  I didn’t listen the first time. 
 
(I was probably too busy scrolling through my news feed…)
 
Now, my ears are perked.
 
So, the Jessens are forgoing cable and we’re saying sayonara to Netflix.  We don’t need more competition for one another’s presence.  We have plenty of that already.
 
Like well meaning diets, I’m sure this won’t last forever.  And that’s ok, too.  It just feels right for the time being.  
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3 thoughts on “God Cut my Cable

  1. Chris,

    Michelle and I went through a similar epiphany several years ago. Initially, ours was somewhat financially driven, but turned to be more about what we can do as a family.

    We cut cable, but used netflix, managing our kids time, programming, etc. it got the the point where when our kids went to grandmas, friends houses, etc. they were like, “commercials?? ugh….”

    I used a program called Roku that allowed me to stream worship services (north Point, Lief Church, Mars Hill, etc.), TEDTalks, Khan Academy, as well as netflix for Discovery ,Animal Plane,t and History channels…. Michelle even started incorporating some of the programming into the home school curriculum. I sometimes used it for home bible studies. Although setting all this up was a lot of work for my part, the benefit was how much time as a family we were together. Plus, I wasn’t as concerned about what my kids would see, because let’s face it: the commercials these days are some times worse than the actual shows.

    Along with setting up the programming, we established times for watching TV. If it didn’t fall into the time slot, the TV was not on. Period.

    Finally, and this is probably the most important thing we did: 1 TV. We had no TV in our bedrooms. No extra TV. Just the 1 TV. If you want to watch something, its on that one. Amazingly enough, my kids are just fine for it……

    Unfortunately, we moved and built our dream home. Unbeknownst to me, where we built there is no high speed internet service, so streaming was not an option. I have canceled my Netflix subscription, and have gone with DirecTV. I went back and forth on the decision to subscribe to a cable plan, but in the end I feel presently it is a good decision. My son and I watch a lot history shows together, and Michelle has been getting some great ideas from the cooking channel. Its clearly not perfect. Things are a little different, but we manage it as best we can. TV is still limited.

    I am definitely with you, in that I am tech nut myself. but i also loath it. especially phones….. I go through periods of Sabbath from my phone every year. I would like to think that at some point I will give it all up….. but then reality sets in, right?

  2. I’m with you, Chris. We have cut our cable to 12 channels. Honestly, (sorry EPB) we really don’t watch those channels very much. I have to admit, I feel bad for my 14 year-old daughter. She loved the cooking channels. However, she told me it was okay because she could watch them on her iPad. We have (again because of financial reasons) cut out the daily paper. That was my “fix”. I have found that when Tom and I get on FaceBook (I’ve been told it’s for the old people lol!!) we don’t speak. We may share a laugh here and there because of something funny on FaceBook or because of your precious family entertaining us. I have no idea what the answer is. We must be technologically up-to-date and smart because that’s where our children’s schools are going. However, I remember telling my children, “GET OUTSIDE AND PLAY!”. I feel that’s just as important.

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