Simple Solutions {idols & emails}

by Michelle Acker on November 8, 2011

in Learning the Art of Living

I have a confession to make.

My email box has become an idol.

I’ll explain how in a minute.  First,  I need to show you how I am totally out of control when it comes to email. I regularly have thousands of emails in my in my inbox. Some read, some unread, and some waiting to be deleted without ever opening them.  Most of them just sit there forever…

That’s my inbox this morning. After I deleted over 1,000 emails. It stresses me out, but I’ve become so numb to it, that I just ignore that number and pretend like it’s all under control.  It’s not.  I use filters, and folders, and read articles about how to manage your inbox.  In the past, I’ve gone through and spent time mass-deleting emails, thousands at a time.  Then I promised myself that I’d keep deleting daily so I’d not end up in that situation again.  And yet, today…. 8,365+….  Something obviously isn’t working.

My husband walked in yesterday and looked over my shoulder.  I was looking for something in my inbox that we needed for work. He took one look and said, “You get that many emails everyday?  You’ve got a problem.”

Immediately the excuses starting rolling off my tongue:

“I know….but a lot of them I just delete without reading them.”

“But sometimes there are really great deals, and I don’t want to miss something….”

“I just need to be better about staying on top of it all…”

and more.

Which brings me back to how my email box has become an idol.

Lately I’ve been feeling the need to pull back from things that are keeping me from focusing on my family. There are all sorts of things and commitments that I’ve allowed to pull me away from truly enjoying my family to the fullest. ‘Stuff’ that pulls me away from spending real time with them.  I’m coming to see a long list of things I need to work on, and I’m coming to realize that those things are a sort of idol.  An idol is something that we love when we should love God.  Something that comes between us and God.  This ‘stuff’ is definitely coming between me and my family, and that means it’s coming between me and God.  It’s an idol.  Not because I am worshipping it, but because I am letting it get in the way and waste my time.

At the same time, the book of Jonah keeps popping up everywhere. You know, Jonah and the whale?  That’s not really a bible story that comes up too frequently.  And yet, it keeps getting plunked down in front of me over and over and over for the last few weeks. God does that sometimes….keeps sticking something right under your nose until you finally listen.  After it came up again yesterday, I thought maybe I should go read it again.

The entire book of Jonah is only TWO PAGES long.  It’s a quick and easy read.  The lessons that come to mind from Jonah for me are usually “Love your enemies” and “Be obedient”.   But there was only one verse that jumped out at me yesterday: Jonah 2:8

Jonah 2:8

That ‘stuff’ I was talking about?  Most of it definitely qualifies as worthless.  And by clinging to it, I’m giving up ‘the grace that could be’ mine.

I could have so much more peace if I would just let go.

And so I am.

That email box of mine has been put on alert.  I am intentionally simplifying.  Letting go of the worthless emails.  Not just deleting them, but unsubscribing.  Deleting is temporary.  There will be a new batch to replace them faster than I can blink.  But if I unsubscribe from the worthless junk that gets dumped on me everyday?  Well, there is lasting peace and freedom in that!


Less time checking and dealing with emails.

More time DOING with my family.

I like that.



Linking up with:


{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jana November 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Amen, sister! I absolutely LOVE that verse! It’s one thing to know in the back of your mind that you’re filling your inbox (and your life) with unnecessary clutter, but to think that you’re FORFEITTING GRACE?? Wow.

Thank you for putting this into perspective for me. I’ve been wrestling with this lately, too, and keep thinking I need to make a change. I believe I have some unsubscribing to do…


Michelle November 8, 2011 at 7:57 PM

Thanks Jana! I’m still wrestling myself. Let’s keep encouraging each other to make those changes… 🙂


Kristi November 8, 2011 at 3:52 PM

I love this girl!!!! Beautiful and oh so deep!!! I needed this!!!

Michelle November 8, 2011 at 8:20 PM

Thank you, friend! I wasn’t sure if I was just blathering about my email or not. 😉

Kristi November 8, 2011 at 7:40 PM

Wow. I had not noticed that verse either. Great post and observation. It was great to meet you briefly at Relevant. Thanks for speaking truth into our lives :). You are loved!

Michelle November 8, 2011 at 8:19 PM

Thanks, Kristi! It was great to meet you as well. I love what you are doing with Freeset.

Lauren November 9, 2011 at 6:35 AM

This is something I have been thinking about doing, but haven’t – groupons, updates, etc. Things to distract and fill up, even e-mails from blogs…too much, too much distraction! Need to simplify. Thanks for putting this into perspective!

Michelle November 9, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Thanks for commenting! I realized after I unsubscribed, how many things I still had left. Filtering what’s left into an easy to empty folder. Hoping that works! If not, I’ll be back at the unsubscribe button until it’s under control!

Lori November 9, 2011 at 9:38 AM

I, too, suffer from email overload. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with them. I am trying to weed out the fluff from the necessary stuff (do I have them bookmarked if so do I really need the multiple ads they send each day). Keep up the good work on simplifying your life! Proud of you!

Michelle November 9, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Good point! Do I really need to get an email and a facebook and a twitter notification for stuff?? Not really. I’m really learning to love letting go!

Jen Ferguson November 9, 2011 at 1:28 PM

You know, I used to give out my email address for latest sales, etc, and then I would wake up every morning to an insane amount of email which would give me anxiety. So, I, too, stopped subscribing and started unsubscribing and figured that if God really wanted to me to find something on sale that I needed, He would find a way to get me the info.

So glad you linked this up — I think a LOT of us could do with some simplifying.

Michelle November 9, 2011 at 10:09 PM

Thanks Jen! I’m really glad to know I’m not alone in this. So thankful to have found your site too. 🙂

Rhoda November 9, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Wow that is a great verse that I’ve never noticed before! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I love the unsubscribe button at the bottom of e-mails – I use it often! Another thing that helps me is to have a ‘respond’ folder and then either put stuff in there or delete it – it doesn’t always work, but usually does pretty well.

Messy Marriage November 10, 2011 at 3:43 PM

I think this is a common problem for all of us who use the internet regularly. I’m glad that you’re making some hard, difficult choices. I’ll pray for you right now that God would give you the peace and extra family time you so rightfully long for. Thanks for reminding me to be watchful of my time as well in this great post!

Dawn November 17, 2011 at 7:32 PM

YES I have been doing that too… unsubbing from lots of newsletters I never read. I had started subscribing to blogs via email, but now that has turned into a big monster too, so I’m going back to reading via feed reader again. At least if I ignore those, they don’t nag me with numbers in my email folders! 🙂

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