The eMatrix and Why I Returned My iPhone…



I typed the title  in error.

And I hit publish, before the post was done.

But that’s what it is– the eMatrix.

A maze that I’m still untangling.

And my sister-in-law asked me to write this post…
About iPhones-returned and trying to live out an example for these little ones with eyes always watching.

And sometimes I catch a glimpse of real-life-outside-of-it-all.

Like today when my friend Sarah called me.  And we talked about real life, between real mamas, with real kiddos, and real husbands.

I met her online, but today something crossed over into the realm of– tangible.

I guess I’m on a hunt for real.

Wanting the calories of sugar over the empty facade of Splenda.
Even if it means more minutes of exercise.

I want to count the cost.
Trying to sort it all through.

I returned the iPhone my husband bought me.
A kind gift for a woman who loves connecting.

But the reality is…

I so often sit at a table or on a swim-team-practice-bench with other women who have the potential for real life connections, exchanging a peck. peck. pecking away at a screen and a tablet full of angry birds and facebook updates and iPhone messages and there’s even something to the point of tossing Siri and stopping to ask the person next to me for directions…

That’s what I wonder.
Is there something about the inconvenience that could bind us?

And so I returned my iphone.

Because I’ve yet to see 99.5% live i-phone-lives in a way that i feel comfortable with.

Maybe it’s just me?
But consider it a lack of pride.
I don’t have confidence that I would-could-might-maybe live it differently.
I don’t have confidence that I can resist the impulse of the here & now & immediate.

And so for now–
I’m counting that cost at least.
All the while realizing the irony of counting-it-online.

Just still trying to protect a few spaces of sanctuary from the continuous streaming.
To let there be a few windows of still and silence that maybe we can fill with–
Shoulder-to-shoulder relationship.

And so I might be asking you for directions.
And it might just be for conversation sake.
But at least we will connect.

Because there’s something about that moment of real conversation…
When my need is real.
And I’m asking for help.

And there is a silent gap.

And He–
Can fill the gap.

And sometimes it’s even good for me to see the gap unfilled.
To be at peace with still and silence.

Clearly still wrestling with all this.


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  1. Kari Koupon says:

    I’m no good at this, but I want to be for my children’s sake because I want us to show them how to use technology in a healthy way. Every day I honestly struggle with this, but I know if it wasn’t my phone, or computer it would be something else trying to steal my attention from what is real. Thank you for the reminder again as I start a new day. God help us!

    • Absolutely Kari…
      And it encourages me that you struggle and wrestle with all this.
      I think what scares me most is when the battle isn’t recognized and all this disconnect just seems “normal”.
      And you make a really good point…I really do think it’s important to show the crew how to use technology in a healthy way.
      I have several friends who have smartphones and DO use them in a courteous, others-focused, self-disciplined, God-honoring way…and that also encourages me. But–so, so often…that’s not what I’m seeing.
      Just not sure I need one. more. distraction at this point in my life :)

  2. HopeUnbroken says:

    ah, i get this. and it shows up in the littlest ways already in the kids–like their lack/inability/ineptness at simply answering the phone or taking a message. they’d rather e-mail their own friends or allow the machine to take a message. it takes intentionality. every day. putting away the devices and looking into the eyes of those around us.
    right. there. with. you. :-)

    • That honestly is one of my biggest concerns…last year I wrote piece for The Better Mom about how we are forming their “normal” right now…what seems normal to them. And it’s such a battle for me to turn off the tv. Put down the phone. Shut down the computer. Spend time in prayer. Quiet myself enough to listen to Him. Thankful for you Steph :)

  3. Kara, I do not have an iphone, or internet on my phone—partly because of the financial cost, but also because I’m not sure I trust myself not to be on it all the time. I hear you. Faces in screens, that’s what so much of public life has become (even at Allume). :( Maybe Wendy is onto something with the Google+ chat thing though. You Mosaics women have become very dear to me, and it would be wonderful to see your precious faces, and hear your sweet voices:) #animportantquestionyoureasking

  4. Oh yes, the challenges of technology! Appreciate your thoughts here… I do have an iPhone and so far, we’ve gotten along okay. I won’t check emails, FB, etc. on it though. I enjoy the convenience of syncing w/my computer for other things. And Siri. :)

    But daily, I too press in to find a way for real, for living-in-the-flesh connections. Grace in your journey…

  5. We’ve been contemplating an iphone. Not sure. I don’t want one more tie to technology. But I would like the added safety of getting help in a not-so-nice area…or when no one is around…. Just not. sure. yet. Thanks!

    • I may have one someday too…just for now…I’m not ready for yet another battle (one that I don’t see successfully navigated very often).

      I do have several friends though who use their smartphones with wisdom and caution. And really…anything under the sun can be used to pull my focus away from Him.

      A friend and I were in Colorado last week and it was WONDERFUL to have her phone with us for navigating an unknown area…

  6. It was so nice to hear your voice today, Kara. You are so real and so sensitive to God’s leading. Such a rare jewel. It takes strength to listen to your husband and the Holy Spirit and not others. THAT is a sign of a “strong Christian.” Can’t wait to speak again. I will be praying that God leads you to take your kids on a homeschool field trip to Plymouth, MA. :)

  7. Amen! I’ve got a post like this waiting to be published. We just started basketball with one of the boys and in two weeks, ONE mom has spoken to me because the “Nordstrom” mommies are too busy on their phones to even look up and see anyone else. But then, those particular moms probably wouldn’t speak to me anyway so I guess it doesn’t matter. But even as we sit at church, there are so many phones out at times when all I desire is a real, face-to-face conversation with another woman! It is so frustrating sometimes.

    • Will have to check out your post! :)
      The reality is that I know how easily I’m distracted…it’s already too easy for me to zone out and miss opportunities to connect.

      My decision to return it was in part prompted by an outing at a local park where I looked around me and pretty much every single mama sitting on benches around the playground was on her phone.

      Easily could’ve been me… I do have a cell phone and even with just my relic-of-a-phone…that has very limited options…I can still make poor choices.
      It’s a battle. Not necessarily with the iphone as the main problem…because I can find a zillion things to waste time on…BUT…I do see a pattern of being out-of-balance

  8. Two years ago my husband and I gave up our iphones. It was a GREAT decision. Stopping at red lights left me with nothing to do except for communicate with my kids or pray for others. Because I didn’t have it to turn to in moments of “down time” it resulted in a lot of good.

    I just recently (like less than a week ago) got an iphone again (a gift from my brother). I won’t be connecting FB to it and will use it as a tool, in light of the freedom I found in the past two years of not having it.

    It is an extremely useful tool, so I am glad to have one again, but it needs to be used as a tool, not as something that causes a division between me and society.

    • Absolutely agree with what you wrote above…and someday I may even have a smartphone too :) Love what you wrote about the “down time”…because it’s so easy to fill those moments with a quick FB scan. It’s still a battle, even without a smartphone. :)

      It can be a very, very helpful tool (my guy has one and needs to for work)…as with pretty much everything…totally depends on the user and the motive and the level of self-discipline and His intervention.

      I was just on a walk with a friend about an hour ago and she was talking about how crucial that time in the car is for talking with kiddos. Love that!

  9. Beautiful!!!!!

  10. Oh I so get this.
    I commented to my husband the other day that every time I’m in a waiting room, it’s as if someone goes out of their way to sit next to me and start talking. I was asking him what it is about me. and of course, I’m thinking: are my eyes really that kind? etc… He takes one look at me and without hesitating he says “simple. you’re the only one in the room without their nose buried in a smartphone. And they’re desperate to connect with someone”. ::SIGH:: duh.

    bottom line: I want to be a conduit. With hands open to be used by Him however He sees fit. And I’m learning I need to take that literally and figuratively right now cuz I’m easily distracted…so is my 4 year old…;)

    • I loved reading this about you…this is my experience on a regular basis as well. I usually end up in a conversation wherever I go :) But it’s on purpose…intentional. I don’t do it every time, but I try to pray before I head into the crowd, meeting, market, sports practice, bank etc…to be aware of any connections He might have planned. It’s exciting when I remember to live like that.

      Last swim practice though, I looked down the row of mamas and out of the 30-ish of us sitting there…every. single. one. except for me and one other woman was on a device of some sort.
      And honestly, it doesn’t even really matter what the device is…it’s so easy to just be distracted and miss His nudge to engage. Just made me pause…

      LOVED reading this about you! :)

  11. I love this, Kara! We have never had smartphones of any type. I often say to my husband that I’m thankful we don’t–I don’t think I trust myself with it. ;) And, it is so nice to go out and not even have the temptation to check email or fb, etc… I have temptation enough when I’m home. Great post, great decision!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing your heart struggle with us – I know so many of us can relate. It’s a struggle I am anxious about as well and I realized it’s because I keep trying to do it on my own instead of relying on Christ. And there is wisdom in plucking out your eye if it offends you – basically Christ telling us “I expect you to take drastic measures in your pursuit of me alone.” I have a couple of hands and eyes that need to be removed so I, like you, can see more clearly the fields that are white with harvest and a Savior who’s calling me to rest in Him! Love you, sweet sister! So grateful for your gentle, yet bold spirit!

  13. Hope you do stop and ask for directions so we can chat a few minutes and in the end we will both be encouraged! But you still may be lost cause I refuse to carry one too for that very same reason! Love your brave post!

  14. Sally Clarkson says:

    so Sarah said, “Good for her.” You are so gifted and I love the way you write. Wish we could have had more time to talk. Hope you had a great weekend. Keep holding fast to ideals and beauty–they become you!

    • Thank you so much Sally…
      Please tell Sarah I truly enjoyed her talk on Friday night…just even the nudge to cultivate moments of quiet when I am listening for Him.
      She reminds me a bit of myself back-in-long-ago-days when I wandered my way along Hadrian’s wall, captured by the stormy beauty of Scotland.
      The love I see in your children for beauty and books and music and substance encourages me greatly…it’s what I pray God will grow in ours.

  15. LeAnn Williams says:

    Wow, I am so impressed with you giving up the gift. I must say I agree with you on having a real conversation. I just started to learn how to text; that tells my age for sure. I really don’t want too. However, the younger generation doesn’t like to talk or email; they just want to text. I get worried about how they are all going to relate to the real life world of getting to know one another in person. I guess we might want to consider the length of our prayers. Are our prayers longer and personal or more like a text?
    Blessing to you on this one!

  16. interesting idea. My husband says we NEED these iPhones for when we move so frequently with the Air Force every 2-4 years and they are our only connection to anything. I wonder about that logic…crutch. It is a constant temptation and a budget breaker. kinda like why we keep that blasted cable TV for the Food Network and BBC America. and Netflix on the iPads…yes, plural. We have 2 and the boy watches it with Dad until he passes out at night. I hate it. I just want to read real books.

    • I’m with ya…start feeling like I want to take it all and run it over with our mini van :)

      But I do see how encouraging it’d be with all the traveling & moving your family does. One of my closest friends is moving next week and I’m so so SO thankful for the technology that will allow us to keep in touch.

      Ugh. The balance…

  17. Oh, I get it. iPhone = Demand for iRestraint! Sometimes it is better to get rid of it than wrestle with it!

  18. If you can get the others around you to connect over their Iphone screens! But I understand 100% and admire you!

    • I know…that is the dilemma right?
      But yesterday at swimming I just finally nosed-my-way-in and asked the lady next to me if she liked her iPhone and we ended up talking about life and church and kids and death and hope…
      And so we’ll see if she sits by me next week :)


  1. […] Seems the idea of pulling away from media for a time is not a novel one. Kara spoke of it here where she recounts why she returned the iPhone. […]

  2. […] So last week I shared… About why I returned my iPhone. […]

  3. […] are times when I’d love to just get rid of it all. There’s a reason I returned the iphone my husband bought me a couple of years ago. I have a definite love-hate-relationship with […]

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