I am not the techiest of people: if something has more than two buttons, chances are I will press the wrong one. My wife, Marcia, has yet to convince me that my shaking my frozen tablet like an Etch-a-Sketch will not get it to work again.
So I found myself sorely disappointed when I got a new laptop computer, a few weeks back, only to find that it wasn’t running as well as it should have. I’d thought I had been super-careful about not clicking on anything that would download unwanted software as I set things up, but the results were not good.
Indeed, I had time to go and make and eat a sandwich, and clean up the kitchen afterward, just while the machine was booting up. And when I finally got connected, I wasn’t surfing the Internet so much as dragging my feet through its heavy gloop.
Thankfully I have a tech-savvy son who came to my rescue. He did a little digging around and found a lot of “bloatware.” To fellow non–techies, that’s unnecessary and unrequested programs that were taking up oodles (that’s a technical term) of my RAM and ROM. For all I know, they were even drinking some rum while they were at it. Whatever they were up to in there, they were just sucking the life out of my machine.
We uninstalled a bunch of stuff and suddenly everything was up to speed. Eliminating the silent distractions made all the difference.
This came to mind one day last week as Marcia and I lay on the beach, soaking up some much-needed sunshine. Life has been pretty stressful for the past few months, and this was the first day we had taken out to do nothing. We unplugged, literally and metaphorically, and it felt really good.
Between sighs of relief and dollops of sunscreen, we reflected on why and how driving just 30 minutes from our home had such an impact. Well, sand and the sound of the surf is always rejuvenating for us, that’s true. But it was more than that.
As I looked back, I realized that over the previous weeks the unresolved pressures, concerns, and questions in our lives had been acting like that bloatware, quietly running in the background and reducing our operating capacity. Even when we weren’t consciously thinking about this issue or that possible solution, they were humming away and occupying needed operating space. We had less room for all the other things we should be doing.
Closing out those silent “programs” called for physically removing ourselves from the situation. Getting away from the circumstances we were facing, even for just a few hours, brought us back up to speed.
Now when I find myself starting to feel the pressure rising again, I pause to run a personal “scan disk.” I try to identify what unnecessary programs might be running in the background of my mind and heart, and need shutting off. This procedure can be found in the original owner’s manual. As Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”