I’ve wholeheartedly embraced the role of technology as a tool for spiritual development. For years, I wrote actively about my personal experiences and faith on blogs. I posted multiple times daily on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I found ways to use productivity apps for note taking, task management, and goal setting to aid in self-improvement. I downloaded my favorite scriptures and books onto my phone and tablet. I armed myself to the teeth with technology in my quest for personal and spiritual growth, and I was nailing it!
Then, about a year ago, I began to sense that something was wrong. I was “doing all the right things,” but I felt hollow. Despite my efforts to improve and draw nearer to God, I felt I was drifting further and further away. It was a desperate feeling, especially because I couldn’t understand why.
Since then, I believe God has helped me understand how to better seek him. Step by step, He’s guided me along a journey of calibrating my digital desires and bringing them in line with his will for me. I know that if you seek him, He will do the same for you. The hints and steps you receive from him may be different than those I needed to receive, so take these suggestions with a grain of salt. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can use technology to foster spiritual growth.
Unfollow your friends on Facebook
No, don’t unfriend them, just unfollow! I unfollowed every single of one my 600 or so Facebook friends. The result? A completely empty news feed. After a couple of weeks, my compulsion to check subsided, and I felt a restored sense of control over how I spent time using my phone and computer.
Unfollowing your friends lets you keep the benefits of Facebook without the addictive behavior. You can still visit friends’ profiles to see what they’ve been up to and use Facebook Messenger to chat. Pro tip: If you have friends or family whose posts you don’t want to miss, navigate to their profile and choose “Get Notifications.”
I still spend time on Facebook, trust me. It’s just that my mind now feels less scattered and my thoughts are more deliberate. I spend Facebook time purposefully engaging and staying in touch with individual friends. Having personal conversations away from the heated environment of comment sections can be a great way to make yourself a tool in the Lord’s hands to reach out to his children in kindness.
Use Silent Mode
Your phone has a silent mode. Use it! I turn off all notifications when I’m praying, studying, pondering, and getting ready for bed. This heightens my focus and provides uninterrupted time for me to commune with the divine. A beep from my phone is much louder than a subtle communication from God, so I decided to eliminate that possibility in order to make myself more open to receiving inspiration.
Now, if only I were spiritually advanced enough to turn off those notifications during church…
Capture beautiful moments
Use a note-taking app (Evernote, Zoho Notebook, Google Keep, etc.) to jot down strokes of inspiration as soon as you receive them. This has helped me follow through on good deeds that crossed my mind, but that I couldn’t accomplish in that very moment.
Also, put that phone camera to work! Beauty surrounds us in this world, and stopping to appreciate and share that beauty with others can be a real source of spiritual refreshment and growth. For me, taking pictures of beautiful moments has become a way to express my gratitude to God for this beautiful world. You can also share pleasant images you’ve captured with others by messaging them or posting them on social media. Sometimes it’s nice to share an uplifting thought or encouraging word with the image. Here are a few images I’ve captured on my phone in recent weeks.
Technology changes quickly, but God stays the same yesterday, today, and forever. As we seek his voice and draw near to him with purpose, He will help us learn how to use today’s technology to grow, to love, and to serve his children.
Tyler is a graduate of The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and works in the language industry as a translation manager. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org