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About the Episode

Digital Sabbath. You’ve probably heard the term and like me, it intrigued you. What exactly is a digital Sabbath? How does it work? Why is it helpful and how can it fit into our bigger Sabbath practice? We’re going to get into all of that today with my guest, Susan Arico. 

​​​​​​​About My Guest
Susan Arico is a screen coach and writer on digital wellness topics. Her passion is the intersection between cell phone use and our souls. What she calls cell and soul. She runs cell phone challenges and offers digital wellness products such as the 21 day reset, advent devotional, and a lent film-based course for parents and teens to do together.



Click for Transcript

[00:00:00] You’re listening to episode 20 of the Simply Sabbath podcast.

Rest doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. If you feel like you’re about to break from exhaustion. Let me invite you to Simply Sabbath, a podcast for the burnt-out Christian mom, who longs to get back to the core of who she is and to reclaim the deep joy and stabilizing peace Jesus has for her in her every day– without the mom guilt that often accompanies self-care practices.

Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach and I help busy moms just like you add a simple restful family Sabbath to their week. So they can experience a refueling that gives them exactly what they need to live the life that God has called them to. I’m so glad you’ve joined me today. Let’s get to it.

Rachel: Digital Sabbath. You’ve probably heard the term and [00:01:00] like me, it intrigued you. What exactly is a digital Sabbath? How does it work? Why is it helpful and how can it fit into our bigger Sabbath practice? We’re going to get into all of that today with my guest, Susan Arico. Susan is a screen coach and writer on digital wellness topics. Her passion is the intersection between the cell phone use and our souls. What she calls cell and soul. She runs cell phone challenges and offers digital wellness products such as the 21 day reset, advent devotional, and a lent film based course for parents and teens to do together. Thank you so much for being here, Susan.

Susan: It’s such a pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Rachel: Okay. Let’s get right to it. What is a digital Sabbath and why do you feel it’s so important for us to observe one?

Susan: So a digital Sabbath is the idea that when you take a Sabbath, when you want to step back away from the normal work and practices of life, that one way to do that is to unplug, right?

So [00:02:00] it’s basically a time to intentionally put away devices, which for adults is very often primarily a cell phone so that you can signal to your own mind and your soul, and also to God, that you are kind of something different is happening and we’re intentionally entering into rest.

Rachel: How has this journey evolved for you in your life? How did you come to this place where you’re like, I’m going to coach people on how to take a digital Sabbath? Like you don’t just get there overnight. So can you tell us your journey?

Susan: Absolutely. I think like you and like many people, the concept of Sabbath in general has, has been one that has convicted me and has also, um, spoken to me throughout, you know, years and decades of my life. Um, I’m an efficiency junkie. I would say my number one idol in my life has probably been productivity. I just like, I’m a fast moving person and I can get a lot done. And so it’s something that God has had to speak to me about many times throughout [00:03:00] my life. Um, so in Sabbath is one way that he’s done that, right?

The whole concept of Sabbath is, uh, trust and surrender and believing that God has reorienting yourself to the fact that God is on the throne and you are not for a reason. And when you cease work, you reset your soul to that reality. Um, so long before you even had a cell phone, I was. I was contemplating my own, um, you know, efficiency issues.

I was contemplating the role of Sabbath. I was contemplating the notion that Sabbath is the command that we feel the most comfortable breaking in the modern day out of the commandment to keep the Sabbath, um, and then enter the cell phones. Right. And in the modern world technology blurs all of our boundaries all the time.

And what is Sabbath, if not a boundary, right? God says these six days you shall work and this seventh day don’t work. Right? So really what my whole mission [00:04:00] and passion with cell and soul is thinking about the many ways that our cell phone usage impacts all these facets of our soul. And one of the primary ones that I’ve identified is rest, right? When you have your phone with you, you are automatically in a mode where rest is not you’re not prioritizing rest. You might be prioritizing pacivity. You might be prioritizing recreation. Um, you know, like your Netflix binge or Instagram scroll, but you’re not prioritizing rest. And one of the reasons that you’re not, and we can talk more about that if you want to.

But one of the reasons that you’re not is because that very same device is the device in which your work happens, right? You’re you’re on your phone doing something. And then you got a text about someone’s carpool that needs to, you know, you got an email about something for work, it’s all at your command center for life.

So, um, it became obvious to me that one of the rules for digital Sabbath in today’s world is to say, this is the device in which our work [00:05:00] resides. This puts us into the mode of efficiency and productivity by default, when it is near us, we become more anxious. We become more fretful. And so by saying, I’m going to not have this with me. We can then enter into the Sabbath that we are trying to have and need to have. Does that make sense?

Rachel: Oh my gosh, you said so much good stuff there. I was like taking notes furiously and I’m like, I want to make sure we come back to this and this and the, um, side note: have you ever read Cheaper by the Dozen?

Susan: I have like a long time ago and I’ve watched the movie and more recently,

Rachel: The dad in that is an efficiency expert and I’ve always, I like resonated with him and I thought his job was so cool. Um, like he literally was a consultant that was brought on to tell people how to run their businesses better and how to do their things better. And they ran their household like that and where they would always figure out ways to make things [00:06:00] more efficient, more productive. And so that jumped to my mind when you were talking. I’m like, oh, I know what you mean by that efficiency junkie, like always striving, always trying to figure out how to do things better, how to get more done, how to just keep filling your time and filling your day in.

And I think we as mothers just naturally slip into that because we have so much to get done. So it’s always like, well, I have this big, huge laundry list of things that I need to do. How can I utilize my time, maximize my time. Um, and I loved how you said it’s our command center, our phones have become our command center.

And I, I really truly believe that because with motherhood, with all the things that we need to do, it helps to have it all on our phone. Like it helps to have that integration. I mean, I use a meal planning app that can be on my desktop, but then it tells me what my shopping list is on my phone and my husband can get it on his phone so I can send him to the grocery store. Right. Like it makes our lives [00:07:00] easier, but you’re right in that that we tend to think of our phone as a recreational thing, but it’s really not it’s a work thing. And when we start to look at it that way, it kind of changes your whole mindset.

Susan: It’s both and

Rachel: Yeah.

Susan: Which makes it harder.

Rachel: Yeah, that’s true. It is both and. And I liked how you distinguish the fact that it’s not restful. It could be passive entertainment, but it’s not restful. And I think that’s a really clear distinction and I think we all know what you’re talking about when you say that. We don’t even really have to define it too deeply because we, we just, all instinctually instinctively know what you are referring to.

Susan: Yeah. Well, one of the things that I talk a lot about– first of all, I wanted to say like, um, I think all the messages that we have in this world is maximize your time. You know, multitask, you can be doing laundry and making dinner. That’s both great news. And it’s terrible for me because, um, Uh, it just enhances my desire to kind of [00:08:00] be God. And it just fuels my idol and your phone, as you said, really does that all the more. I almost never don’t listen to a podcast when I’m doing a chore, which is both wonderful and also dangerous and potentially damaging to the soul. And I think that’s an important message for moms because you know, one of the other things that this, that the phone messes up a solitude, a whole different thing, but we need solitude and our phone makes it, so we never have to have it.

So that’s just one thing I didn’t want to forget, but, um, I think the thing about rest and, um, you know, I’m sure a lot about this cause you, your topic is Sabbath, but I mean, really we have such a loss of rest in the ways that God wants it for us. We have a real loss in rest as meaningful leisure. Most often meaningful leisure and, um, Cal Newport has a lot about this in his Digital Minimalism, it’s about creativity. It’s about, um, J something generative. It’s about a certain type of refreshment, so it’s active, but it’s doing a [00:09:00] certain type of work, a refreshment work in our soul. Um, and we’ve really lost that notion of rest in our culture for us rest is putting your feet up and we’re, it’s like, we’re so tired. We’re pushing ourselves to the brink all the time. And then we collapse and we have to sort of, you know, binge watch something and kind of sloth out so we can go back to it and both of those things are not restful, right? So, I mean, I think the idea of a digital Sabbath to me is one in which you say, okay, if I want to take seriously, the rest as God intended, how I can’t actually enter into that rest. If I have this with me, because I’m not going to go garden, you know, or I’m not going to go get my watercolors out, or I’m not going to. No, whatever it is for you get out your guitar. If I have, you know, I’m sitting here watching something or scrolling or getting back to people or whatever it is, listening to podcasts, even that you do on your phone.

Rachel: I think people miss the fact that when we our passive entertainment is actually consumption. We’re [00:10:00] consuming media and messages that we don’t even necessarily realize we’re consuming and internalizing and what Sabbath and rest does is it allows space for us to not consume other messages. It allows us space to process what we’ve already consumed.

And so, and I think we have to process that and I, and it ties into that creativity. You said like, I mean, any, any creative, we’ll tell you, we have to consume first and then we produced. But in order to produce, we have to stop consuming. And so, and I think the same is true of our lives we consume information, we consume ideas and thoughts and opinions, but there has to be space in which we process that and say, this is what I’m going to internalize and say, this is true for my family, for me.

And this is what I’m going to produce out of that. And so the space in which we Sabbath allows us to do that. And I love the fact that you say let’s take it a step [00:11:00] further and remove those digital devices that make us continually consume, continually think about efficiency and productivity and allow us ourselves that solitude, that silence, that time to process, the time to be creative, that time to be refueling. I think that’s all very, very wise.

Susan: One thing that really speaks to me about rest and Sabbath and, and phones and digital Sabbath, is the idea of like humanness. Um, John Eldridge has a really great work in his, um, Get Your Life Back and some of his podcasts about the idea of being human and, um, you know, we don’t realize that very often when we are with our phones, we are sort of in machine mode, we become like automate- ons. You know, we’re slightly swiping and we’re clicking and we’re pushing and we’re moving. And, you know, we becomes, they’re sort of like a robotic aspect to it, close this up, you know, minimize these things. It’s very utilitarian and, um, that’s what [00:12:00] makes a phone, a brilliant invention. There’s there’s stewardship there there’s wisdom there. There’s um, I’m not knocking it, but at the same time, what does it look like for us to be human as God made us human?

And in order to really relish that humanity and to sit in the space where we’re the created, not the Creator, there’s something really powerful about putting down the phone and saying, Uh, for this period of time, like I’m not going to have that machine like quality. I’m not going to even put myself in the space where that temptation or those subconscious actions are happening. I’m just going to kind of be human. And I think that’s one of the most powerful things about the digital Sabbath. You know, people who take them regularly or people who do my phone challenges. Um, which has a Sabbath quality because you’re making the decision not to use your phone for a certain period of time. You know, they, they feel more human. They feel they’re able to tap into like the different elements of humanity. And very often our phone blocks a bunch of those out without us even really realizing it. [00:13:00] So, I mean, I think that that’s another really kind of, as far as the backdrop piece of Sabbath and our own role in Sabbath and digital Sabbath, that’s another one that I think bears reflected on.

Rachel: That is so profound. As you’re explaining that, I just got the image of like somebody on a production line, like pushing the things and moving things forward. And when you’re talking about like the swiping, I never really put that together. That there’s a tactile movement that we’re doing that we’re engaging in. Like you often think of the technology is very like as digital, right? It’s if there’s nothing tactile to it, but there is something in our swiping and our movement, like we are being. We’re on a production line. We are creating something when we’re swiping. I hadn’t even thought about that connection of you’re physically controlling and you’re producing in that controlling of a swipe. Um, that’s, that’s really profound

Susan: And it’s almost robotic in some ways, like you become no gun and you’re like volume up volume down. [00:14:00] Go left, go right. Um, I mean, obviously we’re not only robotic in that time because our, our brains are engaged, but it, it highlights those aspects of ourselves where we’re interacting in this very efficiency oriented way with, with something tactile.

And that’s not a soul generative space by and large. I mean, yes. If you see, you can stop your scroll on Instagram. If you see a beautiful sunset. It’s not like your soul can’t engage, but how much more when you see the actual sunset is your soul engaged to then what do you see on Instagram, right? Like, so I just think that it’s, it’s very much imitation. Um, it’s very much, uh, mimicking it in terms of soul elements. Uh, a mimic, it can, it can only do such a small fraction of, of what God can do in us. And that’s the whole point of highlighting our humanity in the most beautiful of ways which can happen with when digital Sabbath occurs.

Rachel: I, I wonder. How often people have found themselves –this happened to me last night– how often they find themselves feeling anxious, feeling like they should [00:15:00] be being productive. I was kind of going pretty fast yesterday. I had a lot of things to get done and I finally had a moment to stop and I was waiting for my food and I just felt this anxiety rising up in me. And I’m like, why am I feeling like this? And I, I realized I was like, I have been flying full speed ahead all day today. This is the first time I get to stop and rest. My first instinct was to pick up my phone and I was like, whoa, like Rachel, you do not need to listen to anything right now. You do not need to talk to somebody. You need to just maybe pray. And so that’s what I did. I put down my phone and actually prayed and I felt that releasing, but I wonder how often that happens to us that we’re not even realized. it’s so, um, incoluntary almost.

Susan: I would say two things about that one is I think that’s completely true. Um, I think when your phone is an efficiency [00:16:00] tool, and I think there’s some of us that are more susceptible to this than others, like, I am very, very susceptible to this, which is partly why I have the passion that I do. I see how my soul is just so altered.

Rachel: My sister, my sister-in-law, she forgets where her phone is. I’m like, how do you do that?

Susan: Totally. So, so some of it’s just that, like, you’re it really maximizes your adrenaline. It allows you to be so efficient that it puts you on hyper-drive for efficiency and where before you’d have to like, go find your notebook and your pen. And there’d be these natural checks throughout the day, or like, where’s my checkbook. Or like now, since it’s all in one thing, it’s both quicker, but it also creates this adrenaline haze, which exhausts you in a way that’s unprecedented in human history. And then secondly, as you know, probably as well as I do in a lot of my work is about this, you know, there’s brilliant psychological engineers, behavioral design people behind the phone that amp that up more.

Right. So the dopamine dump, right? So you take, it’s like a perfect storm [00:17:00] of your natural adrenaline tendencies because of the efficiency of the tool. Plus all the notifications and settings and the, um, the dopamine that’s getting dumped into you all the time. And like, this is what I mean, literally the amount of the adrenal fatigue that we experience as a result of that perfect storm in the last 10 years is very, it’s quite new actually.

And it’s one of the reasons that digital rest is so important. I mean, Sabbath was always important, but it’s like the way that we live in part fueled by this is so much more exhausting on the human frame. Um, so what you’re describing yesterday is very true. I’m a huge culprit of that. I literally will be like, oh, I have seven or nine minutes right now. Like, I should use that time to let you know, what, what emails do I have to reply? You know, I’m in line at the store. I mean, that’s why I write about what I do because I’m, I’m like exhibit a.

Rachel: Yes. You mentioned that this is a relatively new phenomenon. But Sabbath has always been around.

And I I’ve noticed that in the scriptures, when we were looking at how God actually [00:18:00] gave the Sabbath to Israel, that it really didn’t have as much to do’s and don’ts as we tend to think it should, or that it had. And I really honestly believe that’s because the Israelites were about to enter into the promised land. And I think God allowed space for cultures to change and things to, um, to become established and rhythms and rituals and all those things. But also I see in the new Testament where other groups of people are becoming part of God’s family and Paul kind of talks about, don’t criticize them for how they’re practicing Sabbath or other spiritual practices that he talks about. He’s not saying don’t stop practicing Sabbath, but he’s just saying, like, you have to understand that their culture is going to look a little bit different when they’re practicing it, because they’re bringing in a whole different set of, um, of experiences into this.

And I think about the connection between all of that, to the culture that we’re in today. The [00:19:00] Bible doesn’t talk about taking a Sabbath from our digital devices because they didn’t exisit, but we can still apply those principles of what was it that God was trying to protect us from or invite us into. And how does that apply to the culture we live in today? How does it apply to the fact that we have these digital digital devices that are so addicting? And so helpful in our productivity. But we’re supposed to rest from our productivity once a week.

I know you have some tips and some ideas on how we can do this. So can you share those with our listeners and ways that we can kind of start incorporating this into our, our culture, into our practices and things?

Susan: Absolutely. Well, first of all, I love how you said that. I do think, um, I, I think legalism has always a temptation and it’s always unhelpful and, um, it’s never God’s intention. So, um, I, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s not going to look the same for everybody. I think the principles really valuable. [00:20:00] Um, so I’ll start by saying one of the first people to really speak about this with Tiffany Swain.

I think her name is, she was the inventor of the Webbies and she’s, um, I think she’s Jewish by heritage and she actually has a tech Shabbat, she calls it. And so in the way that her family does it is that they literally, the whole family turns off their devices, you know, from dusk one night until dusk the next night and all of her family does it. They’re all used to it. Her kids have grown to sort of reluctantly enjoy it. I think that would be beautiful. Um, I, I, we don’t do that, but I can imagine that being a really fruitful practice, if you started it, you know, at a stage and you made it part of the fabric of your family.

Similarly, John Mark Comer, who’s a Christian in a way that Tiffany’s not in his, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. He talks about how his family, you know, does the same thing dusk one night until dusk the next and they, they just do all these great things and it’s the highlight of their week. Their whole life is oriented around it. I think that’s fantastic. Um, I, we don’t do that. I [00:21:00] have four children, 10 to 15. We have soccer games, you know, some days we, you know, travel to another state where we have, you know, a place that we go in the woods sometimes. And so. You know, from the car and we need GPS and podcasts and whatever.

So I’m not legalistic. Um, what I tend to do myself is, you know, I limit my kids. I’ve always limited my kid’s screen time, fairly significantly already, which I wouldn’t call that a form of Sabbath that is what you’re doing in a digital Sabbath. So I’ll do that maybe more on days that that’s necessary. Um, but I personally on my, like myself, we’ll do and we’ll model for them a digital Sabbath.

That’s kind of the, the way that I will do it. And it’s very rarely full 24 hours. But on a weekend, on a Saturday or Sunday, when I’m home, I will leave my phone in my room and I will just charge it by the window sill. And I will check it if I need to, but only from that space.

So I will make it quite inconvenient to myself. Um, and my kids will be like, oh, I want to take a picture of this mom. Cause they don’t have phones or like, oh mom, can you text this person? And I’ll be like, [00:22:00] oh, you know, I don’t have my phone with me today. Like it’s upstairs and we’re not going to do that right now. Um, and so it just, it’s this check in my own. It signals to me. We are now in a different space and I am prioritizing a different way of being right now, which is not productivity oriented. Um, and it also, you know, shows them there’s something else happening in the household right now.

My husband isn’t on his phone nearly as much as I am. So I’m sort of the tone setter in that regard. But I will say that it is very often for, you know, it might be, it’s not, I don’t even time it, but it might be for, you know, three or four hours. It might be for six, six or eight. It might be the whole day, depending on if I need to grab it for GPS to drop somebody off or whatever.

The other thing that I often do is, in my interaction with my audiences who are, you know, who this topic is pertinent for, I will very often post something which is meaningful leisure on the weekend. And just encourage people like put down your phone, Hey, [00:23:00] go do something refreshing as, as sort of a signal.

I mean, we see beautiful things, a lot on social media, but it’s not always with the message of this is the world that is available to you intentionally go and pursue it by putting down the device. So for me, that’s kind of a practice I’ll think, well, how do I want to, like for myself and for others, flag Sabbath over the norm, a digital norm, or just a non Sabbath norm this weekend.

So I don’t know if that’s helpful.

Rachel: I think that is helpful. And I think, um, what you’ve pointed out there is it can. It doesn’t have to look the same every single time and it can look like what you need it to look like for that. But the key here is the intentionality of signaling this time is different than every other day, or this time is different than every other time I’m making it an inconvenient so that you have that check in your spirit of, oh, I’m reaching for this. I don’t need to, um, it reminds me of like fasting, like, you know, how it, hunger pains are supposed to Indicate to us that it’s time to [00:24:00] pray. You know, it’s almost the same that when you go to reach for that and you’re like, oh, I have to actually go halfway across the house to find my phone now. Um, and there’s a check there that says, oh yeah, that’s right we’re not doing that right now. And can go find and do something different. And that’s really just a good, good idea.

Susan: And I would say that I think of it as it is very similar to fasting in that regard. I mean, it’s different. Um, like when I do my, when I did my lent devotions, um, my lent product, I said, you know, fasting from food, we have this modern day idea that like other, we can fast from other things that’s not actually fasting. However it’s fasting-like it can do some of the same work of fasting. Um, this notion of, of self-denial right. He must increase. I must decrease. Um, and you know, what does it look like to, to actualize the idea that that God is above everything and then nothing else compares to him.

Your phone does not compare to God. So, um, which we forget, because we just think that I couldn’t make it a day without my phone. Well, yes, you could, but you couldn’t make it a day without [00:25:00] God.

Rachel: Right!

Susan: So I think that idea of abstinence from the thing. To force you into a different type of mental state is very much, um, it’s very much the thing that, that ties together.

Rachel: And, you know, I appreciate the fact that you’re, you’re not advocating for, oh, get off of everything don’t ever use an electronic device ever again. You’re not advocating for that. You’re not saying that the device in and of itself is not at all evil. There are some things concerning. And let’s utilize it wisely and let’s not let it run our lives constantly and take a break from it and give ourselves an opportunity to actually rest.

And so there have been times in our Sabbath practice where we’ve done what you’ve suggest where we put our phones in the other room and they just stay there for the 24 hours. Um, but then I found that we needed them sometimes. So then we kind of, we, um, we pulled back and we said, okay, I I’m on my, what I do [00:26:00] as a writer, I’m on social media, a lot for work. And so I, um, have had to kind of say, you know, I can’t really be on social media during my Sabbath because I will slip into that work mode with it. And so, um, for right now that’s part of our Sabbath is I don’t do social media, but my phone is available for taking pictures because we don’t have cameras and for GPS and Googling, okay, we’re headed to this park. How do we get there? Um, that’s what it’s available for. Some of the people that I’ve interviewed lately, they’ve all mentioned how, um, there was a time where they weren’t doing electronics or phones or whatever during their Sabbath practice, but with the pandemic, that being separated from people, they found, they were using that time more to connect with people that they were removed from over their phones.

And so it became a different use. And to me that’s different than what we like. That’s a different use for —

Susan: Absolutely.

Rachel: For a device. Like when we’re connecting with [00:27:00] family and friends over zoom, or, you know, I, um, FaceTime or whatnot, that’s connection. That’s experiencing human-ness as much as possible in the time that we live in, you know. And I see that different than using your device to passively engage in social media or, or use it for work, to check emails and all those things.

Would you agree with that?

Susan: I’d absolutely would. I mean, I just, in an email I just put out to my subscribers, I talked about how much my use my phone the prior day. And it was over three hours and I said, I don’t feel guilty about it at all. I use it for three hours and I was doing WhatsApp or a few dear friends praying over the phone with them.

I was listening to podcasts while I was making my lunch. And some of those were sermons. I was listening to praise music. I mean, all phone devices are not created equal by any means. And to your point about connecting over COVID the phone was originally for only connection. You’ve only used it for calling people and voice to voice. And so, you know, it’s very powerful for that. And particularly, you know, text does not [00:28:00] do the same work as a phone call or a video call because there’s not a human component. Um, I would say so I completely agree. Uh, phone is like a hammer. You can use it to build a house or you can use it as a murder weapon.

Like the tool. Yeah. It’s not bad. I think the challenge with it is that we don’t use it reflectively and we don’t use it with self-control and you know, what it diminishes self control in the using. So it’s really hard to use it with help control. Um, but I would say that if you were trying to do digital Sabbath, be mindful of the temptation. As soon as you have it with you just real quick, you’re going to get on and check Instagram because your cousin might’ve posted a picture of kid’s wedding, you know, so it’s a good day on a Sabbath day to either use your, do not disturb.

You can actually go into your settings and just say, you know, put the things on so you can receive, you know, sending received phone calls and texts nothing else. You can set an out of office assistant for your text messages so that people get a notification saying I’m not on my phone right now, but I’ll text you back later. If that’s going [00:29:00] to help you. You can use your settings and just change your settings to zero, you know, give the password. I mean, Michael Hyatt changes his passwords down and then he gives, he changes his set screen times down, and then he gives the password to his wife. I mean Michael Hyatt is an efficiency guru.. It’s amazing. So, so you think about these ways that you can set yourself up for success, right? Because it’s that has happened to me on many Sabbaths where I start with a phone in my room and everything’s going great. And a couple hours later I had grabbed it cause I’m going to the grocery store and my list is on it. I need GPS for something. Next thing you know, by one o’clock in the afternoon, it’s just turned into a regular day.

No, there’s not legalism about that, but there is wisdom, right? And there is obedience to the Lord. If he’s calling you into a Sabbath that day, Set yourself up for success. Because we know that Sabbath brings reward there’s fruit in that as well as obedience. And so don’t, you know, don’t miss that because your good intentions all went aside, because [00:30:00] then you have your phone in your hand and everything turned back to normal. You know?

Rachel: I love that. That’s, that’s so wise, it’s such great advice. We definitely all should abide by that. There is, there is so much wisdom in not allowing it to. Um, not allowing it to revert back into just a normal day. When we set aside the day to be special, to enjoy God, to reconnect with each other, to enjoy the world that he’s created for us to enjoy and to engage with it.

I, I like that you have mentioned a couple of times throughout our conversation, this idea of. Yeah, you can see the things on Instagram. You can look and see this beautiful meal, but you know what, if you go actually just make it yourself and enjoy the, you know, the taste of it and the way that it satisfies your body and feels it? Like actually enjoy the moments and the things that God has for you instead of just viewing it through a screen. Um, I think that’s really powerful and I, and I hope our listeners today that they take away from this [00:31:00] conversation encouragement, not that they need to check their devices, but just to use it more with intentionality.

And so I know that you have some resources, um, for them, if they want to start implementing a digital Sabbath. You want to talk a little bit about that and where they can find you in all the things?

Susan: Yeah. So, um, my whole, like way of interacting with my readers and with the world in general is exactly in the spirit of balance that you just said. The reason that I say cell and soul is I want us to become people who reflect on the way that our digital practices impact our soul. And there are many, right. We tend to just jump to like social media makes you insecure. That’s true. There’s lots of other things like we just talked about rest, for example.

And there’s others. So, um, that’s what I write about. susanbarico.com is my website and that’s where my blog is. And that’s where I resources are. I’m also @susanbarico on social media, which I know the irony of just talking about [00:32:00] social media. Um, it, you know, it is important to be helping people think these things through, on social media, about social media.

Um, I have several free resources. One is that you’ll find them on my website. One is, uh, Cell and Soul: Five Steps Towards Less Cell and More Soul. And that’s just like a really quick way to jumpstart somebody in very simple ways. If they realize, gosh, I could just use some guidelines and direction about how to live this out a little bit more.

Um, so there’s that I have, um, resource lists about books. If you want a book for yourself or someone else, or podcasts, on specific concepts that relate to digital practices, mostly cell phone practices. I have a 21 day course/book. It’s taking you through 21 days of reflection and some action steps called Reset, um, that you can find on my website.

And I also have a really fun quiz that I just put up recently, which is really fun. And it’s called What’s Your Cell Phone Virtue? And it’s this concept that [00:33:00] you just said that like virtue, we immediately hear cell phone and it’s sort of like dieting people immediately go into guilt and shame mode. Um, they don’t have to. There can be virtue in your cell phone use. And so it’s a way for people to think about, oh, like there’s good things about me can be showcased in my phone use. Um, and so it kind of flips the script script a little bit. So it’s like just a fun few, few question quiz that people can take and hopefully feel a little bit encouraged and get direction on how they can even grow in virtue through their cell phone use. Instead of just feel like they’re falling into a cesspool.

Rachel: I am totally taking that quiz now. This is interesting. Interesting. So I will definitely link to all those in the show notes as well, so that people can easily find you because I know they’re going to benefit from those resources and from following you. I follow you and I learned from you as well. Before we close, would you mind praying for us?

Susan: Yeah, I would love to. Thanks so much for the invitation. [00:34:00] Father God, we thank you that you are a good, good God. And that you love us more than we can even fathom. And we thank you that, um, you created this world and you create a time for your glory and our good.

We thank you that the Sabbath is a way that we can, um, follow you into depth and follow you into rest and follow you into the kind of balance that you have for us. Um, for our good. We pray that you would bless Rachel on this podcast, bless all her listeners and those who are seeking to pursue you with everything that they have. We pray that you would reward their obedience. We pray particularly that we would become a people that are mindful about the ways that we use the technology and devices of our time. We pray that our cell phones would not be a common idol. We pray that we would not believe the lie that we can’t live a day without our cell phone, because truly there’s only you, you are the only thing we truly need. Nothing else.

And so, um, give power and strength and fill with the holy spirit. Anyone who [00:35:00] would come after you into some of these concepts of digital Sabbath, um, and just reward them richly as we know you will. We pray these things in Jesus name. Amen.

Rachel: Thank you so much, Susan. This is a very insightful conversation and I know our listeners are going to really enjoy it and learn from it and grow from it and being able to implement things into their Sabbath practice.

And thank you for listening into today’s episode. Let’s plan to meet back here next week and continue our conversation on Sabbath rest and what it could look like in your life each week bye.

 Hey, I just want to say thank you for joining me for today’s conversation. I know many things demand your attention. I don’t take lightly the privilege it is to share your time. I want to make things as easy and simple for you. So I’ve linked to all the resources mentioned in the episode in the show notes, and you can always find the link and more helpful information on my website, www.simplysabbath.com.

[00:36:00] As we say our goodbyes, let me remind you that what we’re talking about in this podcast is not just another thing to add to your to-do list. This is not another expectation for you to live up to. It is a gift out stretched from the hand of your creator. An invitation to press pause on walking alongside Jesus in all the things He’s called you to do. And instead the down, across from Him and just be with Him.

It is an invitation to Simply Sabbath.


Digital Wellness Resources by Susan Arico


Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth & Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

(a fun read about an efficiency expert and his family)


Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport


Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a World Gone Mad by John Eldredge


Wild at Heart Podcast by John Eldredge


Tech Shabbat – Tiffany Shlain


24/6: Giving up Screens One Day a Week to Get More Time, Creativity, and Connection by Tiffany Shlain


The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world by John Mark Comer



*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

What Next?

Be sure to visit Susan’s website for some fabulous resources for navigating cell usage:


If you are ready to start resting in a way that supports your personality, you can grab the free guide I created for you:




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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!

I help busy moms add a simple, rest-filled family Sabbath to their week. If that sounds like something you want for your week, but don’t know where to start, grab this free how-to resource: The Busy Mom’s Guide to a Simple Family Sabbath.

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