Of course down time doesn’t exist in the Magic Kingdom. Those books stayed shut while hubby and I ushered two wide-eyed princesses into Cinderella’s castle and Tinkerbell’s nook. We ate lunch with Snow White, drooled over treats at Goofy’s candy shop, and balanced tired kiddos on our shoulders through Mickey’s Halloween parade.
What an amazing week. I soaked in every loud, exhausting, exhilarating minute of it.
My e-mail was a thousand miles away.
Before we left home, I made a last-minute decision to leave my iPad in the living room. I don’t have a smart phone, and there was no room for my laptop in anybody’s backpack. So I spent a week in Orlando, irreversibly unplugged. And I loved it.
At first I expected a few heart palpitations, some nervous twitches or dry sweats, you know, from the sudden withdrawal. But can you believe it? As soon as we landed, I got so absorbed in vacation mode that I completely forgot about my e-mail. I shoved it to some remote corner of my brain, where deadlines and duties await, and I enjoyed living fully present with my family. We laughed. We held hands. We built memories to last a lifetime.
And none of it was distracted by the pull of the outside world.
Back home, I’m shamefully addicted to e-mail. I check messages continually, lured by the nagging pressure to communicate—with clients, church, friends, family. I’m a blogger, after all. Social media is part of the job. But is it possible to take it too far?
Like when I flip open my laptop first thing in the morning—before I get my hungry daughter her breakfast.
When naptime brings a quiet hour, and I reach for my iPad instead of my Bible.
When I refresh my inbox every three minutes, just in case that person replied to my reply.
When my girls say, “Mom, let’s play a game!” and I say, “Just a minute!” while I stick my nose in Gmail—again.
It took a week of Florida freedom to realize I’d been enslaved. And anything that enslaves us is not God’s design.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” (Galatians 5:1).
When we lugged our suitcases back into the kitchen yesterday, I felt grateful for a successful trip and happy to be home. Yet part of me dreaded the return to normal life. I wanted to hold onto the liberty and family ties that Disney World allowed. Yes, routine and responsibilities are healthy, and e-mail can be, too, in moderation. But when did I let it start to suck my attention, my presence, my joy?
I walked into the living room where my iPad sat lonely on a sofa table, just as I left it. I reached for it, then froze my arm in mid-air. Enough is enough. From now on, e-mail will be confined to certain limited hours of the day only. Because I am so much more than a Gmail account. I’m a mom. A wife. An artist. A closet Rapunzel fan. And I want to live my blessings in the moment, not through my inbox.
Pulling my hand away from the iPad, I chuckled and grabbed a book instead. It’s time to finish The Great Gatsby. This mom is still on vacation.
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