Seeing With Unscreened Eyes

Today, I share my friend Emily Wierenga with you. This woman has a way with words — she invites you in and before you know it you’re smelling what she’s smelled and feeling what she felt. It’s an honor to have a writer in this space who has handled her craft with such poise and beauty and who deeply loves Jesus through her writing. Her words, today, are timely. Read and ….absorb.

 I didn’t take my laptop on my last trip – a six-day visit to Phoenix – which might not seem like a big deal except I don’t own an iphone. Our only phone is a flip phone with no internet access, and being Canadian, it doesn’t work in the States. So for six days I was screen-free. Hands-free. Eyes lifted at all times – all five senses tuned in to the world around me.

And do you know what I saw?

A world that wasn’t seeing.

A world, distracted.

Screens in every hand.

Mothers, not seeing their children. Husbands, not seeing their wives. Kids, not playing. Adults, not caring.

No one actually making eye contact. Children being taught that to be seen, they have to turn to a screen. (And we wonder why 90 percent of porn addicts are boys ages 12 to 17?)

Conversation, if it happened at all, revolved around whatever had just happened online.

I could have wept. Because we’re missing it people. This whole, beautiful, ordinary, un-pixelated, unenhanced life.

Boots MJ

We’re missing our sons stretching tall, our daughters huddled against the wall for fear of a world they don’t understand.

We’re missing our baby’s first steps–first fall.

But more than that? We’re missing God.

Butterfly Flower

As my husband says, “God does not have a blog, Emily.”

No, God is not online. He doesn’t have a Facebook account and He doesn’t tweet.

Now, please note, a lot of good can be found on social media. A lot of talk about God can be found on social media. But God Himself? Is not on social media.

Yet we are. All the time. We look up for a minute to make sure we’re still alive and then it’s back to the “real” world. The one that’s easy to control and understand, the world that fits into 140 characters.

Everyday life might not “like” everything we say, but type something onto Facebook and someone’s bound to.

There is no room for empty space, because we’re so busy affirming one another. There is no chance to get emptied of self and filled up with God. God wants empty vessels. He doesn’t want people who feel good about themselves. He wants broken people who realize that only God is good.

Fence MJ2

And if we don’t let others get empty–if we try to save them from that by liking their status or constantly affirming them–we keep them, and ourselves–from hungering and thirsting after Christ.

Silence. Space. Desert. Wilderness. Poverty. Suffering. These are the ways we encounter the fullness of Christ. But if we stay on auto-pilot, zoned in on the cyberworld and failing to feel, we stop being human. And we stop needing the divinity of a Savior.

If I have a thousand blog posts or Twitter followers but have not love, I am nothing. If I write encouraging statuses and give to online charities but have not love, I am but a gong or a clanging cymbal.


How many of us are afraid to set down our phones, or turn them off, for fear we’ll miss something?

Look around, sisters.

We are missing something.



Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, and the author of five books including the memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). All proceeds from Atlas Girl benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and three children. For more info, please visit Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Originally posted on The Better Mom. Photos are a gift from Mandie Joy.