It’s been three months since I got rid of my iPhone. Guess what? The ground didn’t crumble beneath my feet, the sky didn’t fall. Actually, life’s been pretty good since I cut the cord.
I still dislike my new phone, but at least I don’t hate it anymore. The phone bill is down, which is good. Plus, I found out I can survive without checking email or Facebook every 10 minutes. Who would have thought?
But the greatest change is this: I’m becoming the dad I want to be. And maybe in the future, when my kids talk about my life, they won’t mention my affinity for my phone. Instead they’ll mention my affinity for them.
Maybe they’ll say we hunted water dragons in the pool, turned into screaming eels and tried to touch dancing dolphins. Maybe they’ll say we hopped the transport to the hidden planet and were launched into the sky.
Maybe they’ll laugh at the fun we had.
And if they do, it’ll be because I was present with them, untangled from that which once tangled me.
There’s a verse in the Bible that means a lot to me. It says, “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12.1).
Now that I’m free from my smartphone, I realize how much it consumed me. It kept me from the race of fatherhood by stealing my thoughts and taking my focus. I wasn’t free to run the uphill sprints or the flat distances, not the dirt roads or grass valleys. I was hindered, limping along. I was tangled.
But as this verse says, I threw off the sin that so easily entangled. The great sin of fatherhood is absence, and I discarded that which made me absent: my
smartphone. Together, we were a deadly combination. So I cast off that which bound me, choosing instead the race marked out for me, which is fatherhood.
And now that I have, I’m becoming the dad I want to be.
The kids are noticing. One morning as I wake up, my daughter hands me a card she has made. It has a shirt and tie on the front, the recognition that I have other responsibilities in addition to being a dad. I open it up and there’s a message inside, written in crayon. The words tilt upward and to the right.
“Dad, thank you for getting [sic] a new phone.”
My daughter has shown me her heart. She’s happy, too.
For those in the race of fatherhood, let’s run it well. We only get one race. Let’s remove the sin of absence, choosing to enter in. Let’s cast off that which separates, deciding to move toward. It might not be a smartphone, but it’s something else.
Fatherhood is only granted to some. How are you running your race? How will your kids say you ran?