An Uncomfortable January : Erika Kraus



Our last guest post for An Uncomfortable January comes from one of my best friends. Erika Kraus is pretty hard to introduce, I'll be honest. She is smart, funny, beautiful... Erika helped us plant a church in Seattle and currently serves as Country Director for Haiti Transformed. To say I am proud of her would be an understatement. She is sharing with us today her addiction to her cell phone. An addiction I share & I am guessing most of you do too!

An Uncomfortable January : Erika Kraus

Right before Christmas anticipating our entire family coming together my Mom said to me in jest, “I need to get myself a gadget so that while everyone else is on theirs, I have “MY gadget”.   The special voice she used for “my gadget” made me laugh and I for whatever reason immediately thought of Gollum from The Hobbit saying “my precious” (for the record my mom did not sound like that).  This was likely a providential connection because it had me thinking.  I pictured all of us sitting around using “our gadgets” during a special holiday (I had been living overseas and time with our entire family is few and far between) and I became a bit sad.  Of course I immediately and embarrassingly began reminding myself why I need to always be on my gadget….I need to stay up on my support raising process, I need to make sure our team is doing well in Haiti, I need to text my boss something ASAP, I need to check my bank account, I need to see how many people liked my photo, I need to play my friends back on words with friends (they are all waiting), I’m really behind on emails…

Thinking about all my “needs” in that moment, I felt a conflict between my deep-seeded attachment to “my gadget” (even fear of not being near it) and a sudden weariness that I was so tied down by all these needs and with that, a longing to be free.

An uncomfortable awareness was growing, and I decided that it was high time to remind myself what my gadget was actually for.

So, this is what I decided:

I do not use “my gadget”

  • to fill space or stay busy
  • to escape or forget pain
  • to protect myself from unwanted interaction
  • to feel important

I do use “my gadget”

  • to create meaningful connections
  • to work faithfully
  • to be organized
  • to celebrate or make beautiful things

Well lists are great and all but without actually responding to my realization, I am still a Gollum-like darling human, growing weaker every day.So I’ve started to practice using my gadget for what it is really for and not what it’s not.That means stopping and being still when I find myself clamoring – busy – disengaged from the world and myself.

What is both incredibly uncomfortable and delightful is that without all this incessant business I am entirely PRESENT with the world and myself. At times this renewed connectedness has been lovely - - I hear a full story rather than parts of it, I ask better questions, I remember things, I take better notes, I enjoy quietness, I feel like a better friend and colleague and I have amazingly uncluttered and clear thoughts.

However, in the stillness and spaciousness, I also experience the ways I sometimes do not feel full, whole, satisfied, loved or desirable.I feel want.(the call I’m waiting on, sting from a broken relationship, loneliness, frustration with circumstance, fear, etc.)It’s in that moment I find myself reaching (for my phone) to drown all this out again.

It’s here that I sometimes win.I embrace the ache.I put the gadget down and allow myself to be filled, satisfied, loved or desired.I trade in emptiness and drink in the deep of God.

And it’s here that I sometimes don’t. I hold on tight and click and clamor and “check on things” and text my way back to oblivion…

Nevertheless, I’m aware and this silly gadget realignment has inspired me toward a better engagement with “want” and to “need” in other areas of my life as well. In this process I’ve seen that rather living with God-given authority over something, something had dominion over me. In digger deeper, it was not actually my beautiful gadget and all it’s fabulous apps.Instead my “want” had become “My precious” rather than the Father who meets me with manna and meets me love when I am alive and expectant enough to receive.