Why I Sold My iPhone

This weekend I sold my iPhone.

{sigh}

I’m very sad.

Now, before you go judging me for being all materialistic, which I am, I want to let you know that as a SAHM my iPhone was my life-line to friends and family. I kept up with people on Twitter and Facebook. I shared photos of our life through Instagram. I paid our bills on it, got directions, and even did some Christmas shopping. I had my Bible and some of my favorite books loaded on it, and it entertained me in an idle moment by allowing me to fling an angry bird at a pig or search for a word with my friend.

And it cost a lot of money. And it was a distraction from my kids. And I was kind of obsessed with it.

::

This summer I followed bloggers as they went on Compassion International trips to visit third-world countries, I heard from missionaries returning from Papua New Guinea and Russia, and I thought a lot about contentment.

I longed for one of those eye-opening, life-changing trips — I wanted to have priorities that aligned with God’s and I wanted my children to appreciate the things they had and not be discontent about the things they didn’t.

Moving to South Africa or PNG seemed like the only way we could learn this lesson. How could that possibly happen in the middle of Orange County?

God challenged me in that thought.

He asked me what was harder, to sacrifice fancy phones, Starbucks cups and trips to Target when they are inaccessible or when they’re surrounding me.

{sigh, again}

::

God began pointing out to me the sense of entitlement I walk around with. The “I am a SAHM of four small children and I deserve help and special rules” thoughts that filled my mind. The inconsistencies in my words and actions.

I talked about my desire to help those in need and my desire to make sacrifices for God. I prayed to Him for provision when our finances were tight and waited for Him to miraculously provide for us through the generosity of “Anonymous.”

And yet I justified spending as much on my cell phone bill each month as I do on two weeks worth of groceries for our family of six.

Money was not the only reason for getting rid of it, though.

My attention was pulled away from my children and husband.

With my phone constantly beside me, I was tempted to check my email, lurk on Twitter or play a game. Before I would realize, an hour would pass with me staring at the little glowing screen; an hour that could have included cleaning the kitchen, reading a book to my children or going for a walk. How could I complain about not having enough time for what I needed to do when I was making so much time for what I wanted to do?

::

I did not make the decision lightly. I do not think that it is sinful to own an iPhone. I fought God over this for over a month. However, you can only pretend that what you’re hearing is NOT God for so long. Josh wasn’t sure that I was supposed to sell it, and he felt bad because he knew how much I utilized it.

There was not a doubt in my mind.

The interesting part is what this weekend has been like for me. Having no phone since Friday night has put me in a sort of forced retreat. Yes, I can still go on the computer and interact with people, but it’s not the same as having it always by your side.

Strangely enough, I feel like a weight has lifted off my shoulders.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had anything to distract me from the life going on in front of me. Possibly it’s due to the lack of alerts, notifications and alarms that were a source of temptation to check this app or that game. Definitely, it is because I finally  did the thing I knew God was asking me to do.

I do miss Words with Friends, though…

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70 Comments

  1. Dana says:

    Ouch. That hit my “conviction bone”!!

    And I will miss you on WWF! :)

    1. Melissa says:

      I loved having another way to connect with you through it. I keep coming up with ideas (maybe I can get an iPod Touch, maybe I could play on someone else’s phone) and then I feel guilty, like I’m trying to get around what God’s purpose in this was. But…I also don’t want to get legalistic with it, so maybe even just my selling it was enough of a wake up call for me to realize that I needed to surrender it to Him. Haha! Love you, friend, and I look forward to keeping up with you through other means. :)

  2. tam says:

    dang. bravo.

    way to go.

    i can’t even imagine how hard this decision was. wow.

    i know people say, alot, me included, “i love your heart”… but im gonna say it now and i totally mean it!

    i love you heart!

    God bless you, girl. I know He has. and i know He will continue to.

    thank you for your transparency here. you said things most of us wouldnt admit. what a testimony and stellar example of trust, humility and love.

    1. Melissa says:

      You just made me get all teary-eyed. Haha! Who knew I’d get so emotional over a phone. :) Thanks for saying what you did, because it was hard for me and the reaction I’m getting about it just confirms to me that I made the right choice.

  3. Julie anne says:

    Now I really need some new words w friends players. Will miss you beating me (although I am winning the current game, aren’t I)

    Seriously, that is convicting. I have 2 little ones clinging for my attention while I comment on my iPod Touch (it limits me to when I have wireless)

    1. Amy says:

      I’m always up for a new WWF friend :) amyjbennett

      1. Melissa says:

        Now, that’s just mean! No WWF match-ups when I can see. :)

    2. Melissa says:

      That’s the real reason I sold my phone. ;) Haha!

  4. Oh, this is good.

    Bad for me and making me feel guilty, but so, soooooo good.

    It’s freeing, really.

    I don’t have an iPhone, but I *do* have a problem spending too much time online. I need to think about how I can change this.

    Thanks. :)

    1. Melissa says:

      I didn’t intend to make anyone feel guilty! :) But, if this is something God’s speaking to your heart already, then I’m glad I can be someone who’s going through it with you. Haha!

  5. Amy says:

    I’m a Twitter/Facebook/email/WWF iPhone user, so I feel your pain. Good for you for doing what God was leading you to.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks Amy! I don’t think I was playing WWF with you, bummer!

  6. Jen says:

    Melissa, thank you for writing this. God has been speaking to me too about disconnecting and I have yet to act. Fear, for whatever reason, has gripped me. I don’t know how I have become so attached to my BB but I have. It has consumed so much time away from work, family, obligations, and just life. I feel God is speaking to me, once again, here with your post. Why am I so scared to just do what my Father is asking me to? He wants the absolute best for me, this I know, so why am I frozen in obeying? These are the questions I’m pondering. Thanks love, for another beautiful post.

    1. Melissa says:

      Jen, I felt exactly the same way. I think I was scared that if I gave up my easy access to my social network people would forget about me. Plus, (since we’re being honest here) I thrive on people’s approval for me. So being able to check so easily and see if anyone’s commented my blog, tweet, status update or picture made me feel all warm and fuzzy. The flip side was that if I got low or no response on things it would put me in a bad mood. That was part of the reason I needed to get rid of it, God wanted me to look to Him for my approval and to be willing to give anything up for Him. I won’t lie, it’s been really hard for me and even in talking to people about it I want to rush out and buy a new phone to have all my games & contacts back. But, God is giving me strength and peace and He can do the same for you if this is something He’s asking you to do. :)

  7. Jason says:

    I’ve had to give stuff up a lot over the last year because God’s lead me to do it. I can’t say it’s been easy and it hasn’t been fun. It was pretty cool when God gave a little of what I gave up back. (I should probably blog about that.)

    I think God will reward you for this in an unexpected way. And I don’t know why that came to my mind.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, Jason! I’d love to read what you have to say about it. :) And thanks for the encouragement. Haha! Maybe someone will give me an iPad!! (just kidding – kind of)

  8. l. says:

    *cheering wildly*

    this is so awesome! thank you for listening, even when it was difficult and for being transparent while in the process. several years ago, i made some decisions like this and found a much different level of contentment. praying that revelation, peace and adventure find you while you travel this path.

    here is to a stellar week!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thank you! A stellar week! I am going to hold onto that one. :)

  9. Beth Eaton says:

    WOW – this is really convicting to me. I thought I was reading my life as I was reading through your post. Thanks for helping me rethink where my priorities are!

    1. Melissa says:

      I hope it’s not convicting in a bad way! I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty for keeping their iPhone/BB/Droid/whatever. This is just what God was doing in me, because it had become a distraction from Him. But, if it was helpful to you, then I am glad! :) Thanks for the comment.

  10. Tonya says:

    :-) Well said and good that you liatened and obeyed God not everyone does they make excuses why they can’t
    … (former youth leader from YOUR youth)

    1. Melissa says:

      I had some really good leaders, who taught me well… :) Thanks, Tonya!

  11. Juliakate says:

    Ben’s watching Blue’s Clues & I’m reading your blog. It’s the episode where Steve goes to college. As a nanny for 10 years, I’ve seen it at least 50x! Glad I can read a blog while, Ben sits on my lap… Multitasking. Then I’ll put the phone in my pocket & we’ll do art time.
    Throughout the day I like to check in w the adult world. My job can be very quiet & leave me starved for adult conversation. Mom’s know what I mean. But I totally know of the temptation to want to disconnect from the kids & connect w the outside world. In my job, I’m required to have my phone on me. As a single woman renting a
    room, it is my only phone.

    I respect your decision. I respect it because obedience is first & foremost.it is honorable. I am curious though w all the talk I hear about phone bills, my phone bill is the same from when i didn’t have an iPhone: $90 a month. I always think, what are these people paying?!
    I am submitting to being more disciplined w my phone usage bcuz I have been using it way to much while in traffic… Urggh but 2 hrs seems like forever!!!
    thanks for this post friend:)

    1. Melissa says:

      JuliaKate – thank you for saying all of this! I don’t in anyway want anyone to feel guilty for having an iPhone or whatever! My main reason for getting rid of mine was because God told me to, because I had allowed it to become too important in my life. I didn’t have enough self-control to handle it. And, from the pics you post on Instagram and the things you tweet, I know you are a fabulous nanny and that Ben is lucky to have you! :) Regarding the phone bill, it costs Josh and I an extra $60/mo to have our iPhone plan. By getting rid of our iPhones & downgrading to a different phone we will almost cut our bill in half. We will still have phones, in fact, we both ended up with Blackberries. Josh got his free & won’t have any internet service on it (because he doesn’t want it) and I got mine for $.01 & will pay $15 a month for the plan. That being said, I’m not entirely comfortable even with that, because it goes back to my lack of self-control. So, I’m going to try it out & if it’s still a distraction I will get rid of that phone & get an uber-boring flip phone.

      1. JuliaKate says:

        Melissa, i don’t usually comment on blogs from my iphone because it’s complicated to edit. i just reread my comment and my tone wasn’t very clear. thanks for seeing through it and knowing i had the best intentions;) i support you 100% in your decision to obey. i have quirky things that i have decided to do in life that aren’t always very popular, but God knows us best and if we truly trust, then we give in to His prompting.
        thanks again for reminding us all that there is life taking place beyond the rectangle in your hand.

        1. Melissa says:

          I’ve met you in person, so I know that you are wonderful. :) No worries. Haha!

  12. I have honestly been feeling this same conviction for sometime and have also been “ignoring” God in a sense! I love my blackberry for all the conveniences it brings, but it is also a HUGE distraction and, being that money is very tight for us as well since I am a SAHM, i do realize that it is not a necessity and I do not “need” it! That you for your honesty, but I know this is just another way God is speaking to my heart and I now know what I NEED to do!

    God Bless!

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks for sharing this Amy, it’s interesting how many people are feeling similar to me in this. :) Part of it, I think, is a sense of guilt about having something for yourself. I know people feel this way about blogging, golf or whatever their hobby is. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have things that are our own, away from family, but something Craig Groeschel said stuck with me: “Anything we value can become more valuable to us than God. Even good things. That’s when it becomes an idol. What are you most tempted to put ahead of God?” And I realized that I was spending more time on my phone playing games & interacting with friends than I was spending in prayer, the Word or whatever. I had let it become an idol, so I needed to sacrifice it and hopefully in the future I can have one again when I’ve learned self-control. haha!

  13. Melissa says:

    oh, my friend. i know this well and what a huge blessing to hear so distinctly from the Lord in that way and heed His call on your life for this season. God will remove any strongholds and when we can actually surrender it before He strips it is a testimony indeed. And from the hard lessons of surrender that I have learned the past two years, God is a GIVER. He’s asking you to give up something so He can give you something bigger and better in return, one that strengthens your walk and deepens your relationship with Him…because really, isn’t that what this life is truly all about? HIM?

    i know that some people can still be efficient and productive while social networking…but i just can’t! I immerse myself in it and notice MANY hours pass me by. That’s how I knew twitter and facebook couldn’t be my friend. Maybe someday, but not now. :) I haven’t had a cell phone for almost 2 weeks and Noel hasn’t since July. I feel so archaic! Who knows when we will get one…but I know it’s likely just a season.

    I’m really proud of you for putting the first thing first.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, friend! I know a lot of it is my lack of self-control, something God is showing me in multiple areas of my life. He’s working on me, though, and already I’m beginning to feel like it’s less of a sacrifice. :)

  14. jasonS says:

    You could have at least finished our WWF game before you sold it! :) Only teasing. Sounds like you did what you had to do. Intimacy with God and our families is much more important. Obedience is better than sacrifice. I know I’ve got to stay on top of priorities or I can get turned upside down quickly (which happens way too frequently). Thanks Melissa, for sharing your journey and letting us be a part. :)

    1. Melissa says:

      I couldn’t take you beating me again!! :) Thanks for the encouragement, Jason.

      1. jasonS says:

        And the true reason you got rid of it comes out! :)

  15. Marissa Madrid says:

    Melissa, you are such a strong woman and wonderful example of someone after God’s own heart. Your words are always encouraging and you never cease to bring a smile to my face. I can completely relate to your post. Matt is always telling me to put my phone down becuase he and the kids are right in front of me. I’ve made an effort to leave my phone in my room when I’m with my family so as not to be drawn into the lure of entertainment. I think your words were a great encouragement to many! Love and miss your adorable family!

    1. Melissa says:

      What great encouragement, Marissa! Thank you for your kind words. :) I miss seeing your beautiful kids, too! It is so fun to catch up through pics & updates on Facebook though. Haha!

  16. Mike says:

    That was great Melissa thank you!

    Personally, I know exactly where you’re coming from; not regarding my iPhone specifically, but video games in general. In Jr. High I had a very specific conviction from a camp leader regarding a computer game I used to play non-stop. Without any knowledge of me or my habits, she described to me in detail the CD of the game itself, explaining that God promises something better if I spend my time on more appropriate things (like studying?).

    This was so difficult for me. I LOVED this game… I wanted to work for the company that made it, because I felt that I could help make a difference in the world through story telling in games (a calling I’ve always felt). Had I known God would open several doors which actually landed me a job in that very company 10 years later, it would have been easier to destroy the CD (which I did end up doing).

    Back to the iphone, I thank God every day for my job and find myself using it for all sorts of business related purposes, not just entertainment. I am so grateful that right now I can afford this device. I know for sure that I would also sell mine if times were tough.

    I don’t feel guilty at all though, nor do I feel the need to experience the life of a less fortunate person in a third world country. I fully respect those who do however; everyone has their own convictions and purposes in life. I don’t understand how or why God chooses who gets to live where, and under what circumstances. I don’t think I’ll ever understand nor am I meant to.

    I do what I can by sponsoring a less fortunate child, and praying for his family. I choose *not* to feel guilty that God has chosen this cushy Orange County life for me. Instead I am SO grateful, thank him everyday and expect great things for my future. I continue to work hard where God has me, and know that he has great plans for my life and my ministry and am excited to see it unfold.

    1. Melissa says:

      I’m so glad that you wrote that! My intention in this post was to share what God was doing with me, personally, and not to make people feel like they need to do the same or feel guilty. I see nothing wrong with having an iPhone, in fact, I hope that I can have another one someday. What God is doing in me is teaching me self-control, because I have none. It has nothing to do with the object, it has to do with my heart. You could replace iPhone with video games, TV, drinking, smoking, drugs, pornography or food. The lesson is the same: if there is something that has become an addiction and more important than God in your life, you need to get it out of your life.

      I love that story! And how amazing that God worked it around for you to work at the place you were wanting to. :) You’re a good guy, Mike, and we’re happy to know you.

  17. Steph says:

    WAY TO GO GIRL!

    You kidding me…I wrestled God with my People mag subscription for m-o-n-t-h-s…God won. I don’t think reading People mag makes you a sinner, but God deals with each of His kiddos differently, cause we’re special!

    I really enjoy you writing style and heart! :-)

    1. Melissa says:

      Thanks, Steph! :)

  18. Sarah Lanctot says:

    Melissa, you have such a beautiful and tender heart towards the Lord! You are putty in His hands and He can do anything with you because you’ve allowed Him to! I’ve had to give up a few things these last couple of years and I loved what you said about “you can only pretend it’s not God talking to you for so long” -is SO true, eventually you need to obey and then you’re so relieved when you do! I know He will richly bless you because of this- maybe you had to give something away, but I believe you gained something of eternal value that no one can take away from you! You are amazing person, thanks for blessing my life. :)

    1. Melissa says:

      Talk about blessing! You’re words are so sweet, Sarah! Thank you. And I loved what you said about gaining something of eternal value. So often we can be concerned about what we’ve gained here in this life and forget about the more important things we should be storing up in heaven. :)

  19. Darren Redmond says:

    If you were actually listening to God you would have heard Him say, “switch to Verizon!!!” Just sayin. Also, I don’t have cable, and its awesome. Maybe too much to pile on during your time of loss, though :)

    1. Melissa says:

      So you’re deviating from the party line here, huh? The comment I usually get from family members is that if I was really listening to God we would move back to Washington. Have you given up? Haha!

  20. Tricia says:

    My mom and I were just talking about how, when we know the Lord is calling us to do something we really don’t want to do, we try and bargain with him. Which is so true! It’s hard to give up things we really like having, but it’s those things that we devote a lot of time to that we need to abandon the most. Especially when it detracts or diverts time away from the Lord, and/or our families. Bravo, Melissa! I have an iPhone, so I know how tough it must’ve been to let it go! But the blessings you’ll receive from your obedience to Him will be so much better than the phone. But for now, I’ll play WWF with you in mind….

    1. Melissa says:

      haha! It’s the thought that counts, right? You should hook up with some of the people I was playing, we had great games going! :)

  21. lesykes says:

    so proud of you sweet friend. . .difficult obedience and i are good friends, but i wouldn’t trade of the peace our Jesus gives us when we take that step of faith. . .

    1. Melissa says:

      That’s a beautiful statement, Lauren! Amen!

  22. Irony: I read this post on my iPhone. In the middle of the night. While nursing my 3mo son. I tell myself that I do it to help me stay awake, but how did I stay awake while nursing my 7 other babies? Hmm? Hmm? I ask myself.

    Excuses, excuses. My iPhone is a problem for me. I’ve decided not to give it up entirely because it helps me juggle the 1,000s of things I have going on (another separate issue…), but to thwart myself. Like, maybe I could leave it downstairs in my bag before I go to bed. I’ll capitalize on being lazy, because there is no way I’ll get out of a toasty bed to find my phone at 3am.

    1. Melissa says:

      So, this morning I sat down to nurse Silas and I was SOOOO bored! I desperately wanted my phone back so I could catch up on blogs, tweet or check out Facebook. I totally know what you’re saying. I always had my phone plugged in next to my bed, and I would find myself going online in the middle of the night, instead of getting the sleep I needed. :) I don’t think you should give it up entirely. I am terrified now that I’m going to miss an appointment or paying a bill because I don’t have those little alerts to remind me. I think your idea of leaving it downstairs is a great one though. And funnily enough, I’m finding that now I’m having to be more self-disciplined about being on the computer…

      And yay! Your comment came through! :)

  23. Keri says:

    Melissa! I loved your willingness to be open and honest in this post-to say things that a lot of us wouldn’t want to even admit to our husbands. :( Since I started blogging, I’ve recognized that I have a really hard time being “present” with my family when I’m online. I’ve tried to compartmentalize my life a little more, but it is really hard when you’re grasping at straws for sanity! And, it’s this very same though I have had: “I am a SAHM of four small children and I deserve help and special rules” thoughts that filled my mind”-even though I only have 3 kids, but I like to say how much more help I need because they are ALL BOYS! UGH!!! Anyway, I really appreciate this post, Melissa. It’s a reminder to me to think about the present. And also, to let you know, that this is part of the ongoing stuff I’ll be talking about as I explore the idea of instituting more “peace and rest” into my life. Thanks, friend!

    1. Melissa says:

      It’s always interesting to me when I get comments from people commending my openness and honesty. Not because I feel like I’m being deceptive, but rather because I can’t imagine doing anything else here. Haha! The thing I’ve discovered about being genuine with people about my struggles and achievements is that I am not alone in this. This post was yet another confirmation of this. I thought people would poke fun at me for making such a big deal out of selling my phone. Instead, I had a lot of people say they felt like God was telling them to do the same, or that it would be really hard for them to do it.

      And I love that you brought up blogging, because I know a lot of bloggers have the same sort of tension with this. I have found that blogging makes me more aware of what’s going on in my life on an introspective level, but it does pull me away from my family when I go to write, read or respond to posts. Like right now, my kids are running crazy around me in the kitchen as I sit at the table responding to emails. I think a lot of that tension comes from guilt of having something outside of our families. However, having a separate activity is so vital to us SAHMs. Just like in ministry, the job is never ending. We need to learn to fill ourselves after we’ve been drained, and before we reach empty.

      I like the idea of adding “peace and rest” into your life! I look forward to hearing what you have to say. It’s kind of like my New Year’s Resolution I made last January, to cut myself some slack. We’re not superheros, and we need to remember that it’s only through the grace of God that we can do all He’s called us to. :) Thanks, friend!

      1. Keri says:

        Melissa-okay, I too am responding right now as my kids are fighting over Thomas the Train and I’m sitting at the kitchen counter on my laptop!
        And, can I tell you that one of the biggest reasons I started blogging was precisely because of how isolating being a SAHM can become. And, because there were so many discussions I wanted to have with others that I just didn’t have the time, place, or opportunity to have in person. I feel like blogging has let a lot people (who thought they knew me) see the real me, who is really more than just a SAHM. It’s been interesting, but very rewarding. Not to mention my new friends, like you! WOO HOO! And, about the iphone…the biggest reason I don’t have one (besides the $$$) is because I know myself well enough to know it would easily become an addiction for me. Sad. :(

        1. Melissa says:

          I just had a comment today from a person I’ve known for years, and she said that she has gotten to know me better through my blog than she ever did in the time we spent together face-to-face. I wonder what makes that happen? :)

  24. Levi says:

    The other day I was (again) drooling over the iPhones my friends have. What I keep coming back to is that I feel like, if I only have a little more money then we will have “enough.” But the reality is that if I had just a little more money, I would get an iPhone… and have the same amount of money plus an iPhone. And if it isn’t the iPhone, it’s something else – right!? I like to believe that if God hit us with a huge income, we’d just give the excess away, but that’s of course after we take care of a few more “necessities” like better phones. It’s like what you said, we can’t wait for circumstances to reveal our character as something we hope it to be. Rather, we must believe that our convictions are calling us to a refocused outlook, a change of attitude, and different actions – today not someday.
    I’m glad you followed your convictions, it sets an encouraging example for the rest of us to be faithful in all things, big or small.

    1. Melissa says:

      It’s so true what you said about what becomes a necessity when our income grows. I look back at how Josh and I lived when we were first married, and I’m surprised at the recollection. Our income was almost double what it is now, our expenses were way less and I remember thinking we were so broke all the time. And we were, after all of the money we spent on going out to eat, watching multiple movies each weekend (remember? haha) and all of the toys we bought. Sometimes I think God has given us leaner times to show us what our real necessities are and that He’s always our provider.

  25. you are crazy. that’s all i have to say.
    no, not really crazy. i love it.

    i’m proud of you and jealous too. keep us posted on how it’s going.

    still need to hang with you guys. maybe after the holidays.

    1. Melissa says:

      I know, right?! It feels crazy…like shutting off your cable and internet. ;) Teehee. I think I remember someone saying that people called them crazy for doing that.

      I’d love to get together again! That was a blast. :) But I definitely need to get through the next couple of weeks alive…and I have no Angry Birds to help me de-stress. Haha!

      1. Mike says:

        I actually don’t have cable TV or a hard phone line. :)

  26. Duane Scott says:

    I admire you.

    I wish I could do that.

    But I’m not strong like you.

    1. Melissa says:

      Not strong. Just trying to be obedient. :)

  27. Katy says:

    oh i LOVE this post. so true.

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