Guide To Google Drive

I Found a Home for My Spiritual Practice in Google Docs

When life feels too busy to connect to something bigger, open your laptop and type

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Photo illustration; Image source: Cavan Images/Getty Images

This piece is part of How Google Drive Can Make Every Corner of Your Life Easier

Every once in a while, when I’m carrying a mental load that feels too heavy to bear on my own, I power on my computer and start a Google Doc. Dear God, I type, in Garamond for good measure. I’m sorry it’s been so long.

It’s a method of prayer that would have felt utterly bizarre to me not that long ago. I spent years believing that having God in my life meant living up to a very exacting ideal — a belief I fully embraced for the first time at age 14, when I became a Christian on a windy spring morning at a Wisconsin Bible camp. As I repeated the words of commitment after the emotional youth leader in front of me, I pictured myself following Jesus far away from my old life. Sure, the promise of a fast pass into Heaven was alluring, but what mattered most to me was what I would leave behind: the anxiety and pain of growing up in my dysfunctional family.

Religion was my refuge, but every hiding place implies a world being hidden from. While my classmates kissed boys and drank wine coolers, I went to bible study and got up early to pray. That was the trade-off, I thought: Choosing God meant missing out on some fun — and I was okay with it. That was how I wanted to spend my time. I finally felt like myself.

There wasn’t a single moment that pulled me away. It was more of a slow fade that started after college, as I started making different choices and prioritizing other things. I got married. I found a full-time job and new friends. I had a few kids. What I had less and less of was time — and as I created my new adult life, spirituality fell by the wayside.

My husband and I took our kids to church almost every week, but I couldn’t figure out how to fit my religion into my daily routine of parenting and freelance writing — into the in-between moments where it really mattered. Instead of seeking meaningful conversations with others, I mindlessly scrolled through Instagram, hoping snapshots of other people’s lives would make me feel less alone. In my downtime, I cracked open my laptop to get some extra work done in place of cracking open my Bible. I talked about God, but I hardly ever talked to him.

Then, last year, a leader in our church presented a challenge: to spend a month dedicating one hour a day to spiritual growth. For some people, that meant reading a faith-focused book. For others, it meant serving in the community. I knew immediately that for me, the challenge was prayer, the spiritual discipline I left behind in early adulthood.

On the first night, I went to a quiet space in my basement and tried to pray quietly, clumsily attempting a meditative state. But it didn’t feel right. I couldn’t maintain focus. I’ve always been able to organize my mind more easily on the page, but trying to capture my mile-a-minute thoughts with a ballpoint pen? I may as well have prayed for a hand cramp. So I got out my laptop.

For the next 60 minutes, I typed. I wrote about my anxiety. I wrote about my kids. I wrote about my career and my marriage and whatever else came to mind. I wrote my way back to myself, and back to God, in a Google Doc.

Now, when I feel like I’m getting away from myself, or when I have questions only God can answer, I open up my Google Doc and type until I feel better. If God can read my thoughts, he can certainly hack into my Chromebook. And if he’s the kind and understanding being I think he is, then he must be okay fitting into my life, in whatever shape I can make space for.

Writer-mom hybrid. Health & psychology stories in NYT, WaPo, Allure, Real Simple, & more.

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