I keep my phone on do not disturb.

The first time I remember hearing about this life-changing feature was when my blonde-stranded, blue sweatshirt encased 5’5 sister made a side comment.

Deborah, make sure to text me before 9 PM. Cause then, especially before I have a clinical, I put my phone on do not disturb.

She showed me the little crescent that would ascend into my existence and keep my existence a little separated from that of others. It started more or less innocently. Between the emails, texts, GroupMe notifications, and FB messages, my phone would obnoxiously buzz against the linoleum-topped desk, seemingly incessantly. My advanced grammar professor, amazing as she was, wasn’t amazed when the buzz was the background music to her teaching method. So, I clicked the crescent.

But, clicking the crescent soon wasn’t the noteworthy event. It was unclicking the crescent that became more abnormal.

Fast forward a year, and I sent the calendar invite to a co-worker: “Make sure Deb clears her inbox.” The emails had a way of climbing during the week, so I wanted to ensure that I set aside the time needed to make sure that they didn’t climb into a terrible habit of never being answered. She looked at my phone, and I jokingly told her how having my message count under 30 on any given day was a win. A few days before, I’d accidentally admitted to a new friend that it takes me about 3-5 business days to respond to my texts. I would laugh, but it wasn’t a joke. Sadly, it’s chronically true.

I keep my phone on do not disturb.

I’d pulled out the brown leather folds that held paper that held my hopes, pains, and words. I wrote a new sentence in my journal, but one that’d been hinted at for months. Lord, I want to love, actually.

Love, actually.

Is love a feeling? I’d always been told that love was a choice, love was something that you did regardless of how you felt. And in this sense, I did. I did do this thing called love. Roommate crisis arriving, I stayed up much past when I needed to and just ate the cost. House really needing to be cleaned? I did the action. Encouragement needing to be given? I was very there for it. I loved, in what I did.

But what if love actually is also shown by what you didn’t do? The facetime calls not returned. The hugs barely reciprocated. The dependence, not there.

Love, actually.
We’d watched a movie: Beautiful Boy. And, for the second time in my life, I’d cried as a film’s scenes rolled. If we hadn’t just camped in 8 degree weather and now were lounging on a friend’s mentor’s couch with some people I had just met about two days ago, I would have been gone, hard. The boy hooked on crystal meth. The dad trying to step in to know how to help. The kids caught in the in between. The muddied waters of saying no and also saying go when love was fuel but pain seemed to be the car, the car heading towards crash.

I’d driven the five hours back from Virginia with her. We talked medical. About injections and endorphins, about depression and depressants. But we talked about not just flesh but also soul. We talked about costs and people. What it means to live a life that sacrifices. What it means to love. To love, actually.

I sat on the counter top, light grey post-boxing leggings stretching down to my March-adorned Christmas socks. I think I want to be a bartender someday. I stared at her, and she stared back. I’ve lived in this Christian bubble. I was a pastor’s kid. Yeah, it was an unusual church. Yeah, I don’t have the middle-class white privileged complex, but then I went to a Christian school. Now, I work at a Christian company. I’m drowning in this version of reality, really needing to know what reality is.

I say I love the gospel, but do I live the gospel? I say we have the key to the dark, but I am drowning in the light. I say I love till it hurts, but I don’t feel a pang when others have difficulty. I say people value the most, but I don’t put them first. I say I want to be selfless, but my thoughts are so often introspectively selfish, consumed with how they could be happier and how they should be and how this is of chief importance. I say I want to live a life on mission. I say I want to love, actually.

But, I keep my phone on do not disturb.

I keep the messages of “hey, how are you?” unanswered and unsent.
I keep the words of challenging and encouraging and care unspoken.
I keep the people just close enough to be friends but just far enough away to not be risky.

I keep my life on do not disturb, separating me from anything that gives me pain or gives others pain, even though I claim to walk palm in palm with the Healer.

And I begin to wonder if it should be my prayer.
Lord, disturb me.

Disturb the places inside of me where I think I am selfish but am not. Disturb the places I think I am selfless but I am really asleep. Disturb the twisted distance I put between myself and people. Disturb this Christianese reality enough so that the gospel is my heartbeat. Disturb me enough so that I know what it means to love. To love, actually.


I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?