Growing up, my dad had a hard and fast rule for our home outfitted with one cordless phone, one corded phone, and one answering machine. His rule was this: do not call our home from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. unless it is an emergency. That 8-8 rule was often frustrating for my older sister’s boyfriends who wanted to call at all hours, because only Dad was allowed to answer the phone during that time. Sometimes I even enjoyed listening in while those boyfriends got a verbal lashing from Dad for not obeying the 8-8 rule.
Now that I have kids, I have a similar rule, the automated “Do Not Disturb” mode on my Samsung phone. As a minister, I get calls, text messages, emails, snaps, and Facebook messages frequently through the day and night. My phone literally stays on vibrate all day, every day, in my pocket because using an actual ringtone would mean it would be dinging every few minutes, interrupting important meetings and prayer time with people. I’m content with the “on call” profession I’ve chosen and how my communications are used to serve others, but I’m especially fond of the peace and rest that my “Do Not Disturb” mode provides my family.
If you’re unfamiliar with the DND mode, it’s on your quick access panel when you swipe down for the Android and the crescent moon icon in the control center for the iPhone. Its purpose is to give you some peace and quiet to recharge at night or during time off. Rather than turn my phone off at night, I have DND mode set to automatically turn on at 10 p.m. and turn off at 7 a.m. (9 hours). Then I have also set my phone to auto-DND mode for 30 minutes in the evenings at 6 p.m., our regular Wiles’ family dinner time. Oh, and I also have it set for the one day a week (Fridays) I take off from work to invest in my family.
In case you’re worried that the world may pass you by during those times, never fear, DND mode has an exception setting that has you covered. It will allow phone calls and text messages through only for my favorite contacts during my DND times. My favorite contacts include my wife, Dad, siblings, in-laws, church elders, church deacons, local police, sheriff, fire station, and EMA. That’s right, if any of those people try to contact me through text or phone call, it will be allowed through, even when my phone is set to Do Not Disturb mode, so I don’t miss any emergency calls. Yes, Sparta Police Chief Doug Goff, if you are reading this and call me at 2 a.m., you are one of the privileged to get through.
Why do I go through the effort to enable all these settings on my phone? It’s the same reason my dad instituted the no-calling rule from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in my home growing up. Rest is important, not just for me but also for my family. That has been a tough lesson to learn but one that the Bible has supported. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” – Psalm 127:2
Well-meaning people forget that when they send me text messages and emails at 3:43 a.m. “because they were up” that every message will also wake up my wife because she is a lighter sleeper. As much as I appreciate their encouragement and Bible verse they want to share with me, my wife doesn’t appreciate it in the same way. Likewise, my quietly sleeping household, including four lovely children, doesn’t need to be woken when someone in the community Facebook calls me asking for help with rent money at 11 p.m. (Yes, that does happen).
Do Not Disturb mode is a way for my family and me to find rest at night, dinner time, and my day off from all non-emergency communications. It also means that I handle people and tough situations when I’m at my prime, rather than be irritated with someone trying to help their non-emergency urgent-to-them phone call at 4 a.m. The DND mode ensures that I can wake up at 5:30 a.m. to get my glass of water, enjoy my Bible study and prayer time, exercise, and get cleaned up all before I start handling the requests of the day. I’m in a much better mood every day when I consistently structure my rest routine with the DND mode. Trust me when I say that you, my family, and the community would prefer not to deal with a grumpy Topher.
Even Solomon in the Bible wrote some basic wisdom about people’s need for mood-helping rest when he shares this short and wonderful proverb, “A loud and cheerful greeting early in the morning will be taken as a curse!” – Proverbs 27:17. Can you believe, in all the wise writings of the inspired word of God, that there is a verse warning you of the danger of communicating too early in the morning? Solomon writes that wisdom because some people aren’t raised by a dad with an 8-8 No Call rule. So there you have it friends, straight from scripture, quit texting/calling people early in the morning.
To the rest of you who are recipients of untimely communications, for the sake of your spouse, your kids, your day off, and your sanity, institute a “Do Not Disturb” time. It will provide for better health and Family Forte.