A few weeks ago, I felt a pull in my spirit, a tugging in my heart to take a break from social media. I didn’t know where to begin since I blog and run a women’s organization and my mission is to “connect” through any and all means with other women. I don’t want to be an extremist and just throw my phone out the window, although sometimes it’s a nice thought. More seriously, I wanted to know God’s heart on this for us as women… how to navigate our mom/wife/career/others focused/faith responsibilities in life and reality while having a second life online.
I wanted to know if social media was changing me. With the amount of time I spend online, I wanted to know how it was affecting me. Praying about this, I quickly realized that taking a seven day break would be just what I needed. Right before I committed to this, I was overwhelmed at the priorities, deadlines and responsibilities as a friend, single mom, writer and speaker. Yet, I knew God has called me to those “callings” and has a purpose for me in them. Being the curious person I am, I asked several blogger friends and influencers how they juggle it all in which, I didn’t seem to get any answers, but more confirmation that it is impossible to be it all and do it all. Especially with littles. Many of them admitted they were very much addicted to their phones and social media. We all sat puzzled on this.
So I decided to shut it all down. Not just social media, but the desktop computer, phone activity, and even any TV watching (which I rarely do anyway).
The week started out slow and I quickly realized how much more time I had when I wasn’t reaching for my phone constantly. I had ordered a book from Amazon called “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You” and started reading it right away. Before I even got to Chapter 2, I wanted to re-read Chapter 1, “We Are Addicted to Distraction” over and over and over. The words echoed in my mind and pulled at my heart more than any book I have read in the last several years. The chapter sums up with the fact that the reason we don’t want to stop, pause, reflect and be quiet in our lives is because we don’t want thoughts to come in that tell us of our mortality, our near and dear reality, that one day, this life– our life– will soon fade away. Ouch, the bittersweet reality bit into my flesh like an unwanted piercing on the most sensitive of surfaces or the place I like to call, “my created world”.
The truth is we all are going to die one day. I am going to die one day. Everything I do- or don’t do- will vanish just as quickly as the hours, days and years that I work endlessly to build, to keep, to preserve. The Bible tells us to “count our days” but it seems our cultural runs on the high of the fantasy of several lies that tell us through the media, that we will somehow live forever. That we have nine lives. That every moment doesn’t really matter. It’s not life or death but rather on a few hours on social media here or there. No foul, no harm. Right? Wrong. So very wrong. This is our one life. We have only 18 summers with our children and a very limited time on this earth so how are we going to spend our days, our minutes?
Only when we realize the drastic truth of our mortality do we start truly living. I realized that soaking in this wisdom would be the only way to free myself from the trap of social media and endless and fruitlessness wasted time on technology. Instead of trying to so desperately hold onto my life and “create” a beautiful and perfectly curated facade, it is desperately urgent to focus on the real reasons I am here– to glorify Christ by sharing the Gospel. Being the hands and feet of Christ. Bringing the truth into the dark places of this world, helping orphans and widows, loving and serving others. I have to give away my life. I can’t hold onto it so tightly, so creatively, so picturesque. Because, who has time for that in a world that is as broken as the world we live in?! In no way am I saying that being on social media is a sin and I am placing no judgment on those who do it for a hobby or living, but I am simply saying, we can’t live two lives. Being online is helpful for many reasons and with discipline it sure is a way to reach others in love, and yet, it can also be the easiest way to distract us from the real reasons we are here. That is my concern for us. When it comes down to it, it is a life or death issue. People are dying from many things in this world, including spiritually, with pain and suffering that could be so easily prevented with the love of Christ manifested through our gifts of service and love. These truths hit me in the face like a bad throw from my toddler.
This issue hits home for me because I was such a broken girl at 18 years old before I knew Christ. I can’t tell you where I would be had one person, one dear co-worker who invited me to her Bible study over and over until I said yes. Looking back, I fear that had social media been around, I believe she may have been on her phone on her lunch break each time she popped the question that made me feel like a big, white elephant was in the room, and that it was really just my big-fat brokenness and pride that stood there staring at me each time I said “no thanks”. I fear that she may have been searching on Pinterest for decorations to have at her next get-together with her loving friends, instead of seeing me and seeing deeper into my need for a Savior. I fear she may have been on Instagram or Facebook scrolling, all the while, never noticing my depressive state that hid behind my make-up and bad spray tan job. I fear that had social media or technology had any amount of grip on her, I would not be where I am today. Because the moments where she asked me to come and join her at a Bible study, were moments where we were face to face on a break, instead of heads down, scrolling and disconnected.
Right here, right now — I want to thank the Lord that Facebook wasn’t invented yet. My soul was on the line and I know where I was headed. And I stand here guilty. How many people have I passed up sharing Christ with because I was distracted by my phone? How many opportunities have I missed saying a kind word, helping someone with the door or encouraging someone because I was waiting for a drink and on my phone instead of being present? How many other broken 18 year-olds have I looked past and not been still enough to see their needs, their souls, because my phone pulled me away and alerted me of another like or comment? I am so guilty — and I’m not sharing this to make you or myself sit in a state of guilt, but a state of awareness. People need us to be aware and present! People are the greatest mission we have here on earth. Living, breathing SOULS. It’s why Jesus came. We are the body of Christ and have the wonderful opportunity to do what my dear friend Laura did for me so many years ago… we can lead others to their greatest freedom and salvation of their soul. I praise God for bringing this log in my eye to the forefront of my sight and to ask forgiveness and change my ways.
My prayer is that I would put God first in this new world and age where technology is both a blessing and a curse. That I would put my phone down unless it is vital to pick it up when loved ones are in my presence. That I would make more time on my schedule for “white space” and quiet moments to listen and see others around me. That I would be present in real life and embrace every person’s soul and the experiences I get to enjoy, right in front of my where I can see, hear, taste, touch and feel. That the needs of others would come before my own desire to scroll the latest. That work and emails and deadlines would always be under the submission to my true mission and calling in this beautiful life. That Jesus would be made known in my real life and my online life.
The Bible says, “He who saves His life will lose it, but those who give their life up will find true life.” So while the answer may be to implement a strong dose of discipline for followers of Christ in a distracted-addicted world, I would also add that for me, a break or fast has been very beneficial to keep me in check. There are souls we are called to love and bring the hope of Christ to despite the urges, the pulls and the to-do’s or pleasures our beloved phones remind us of. My final thoughts from my technology break is that I’ll need another one soon. Because life is just too short, too precious and of upmost importance to deny that I struggle to live in that truth, over the distraction.
Social media has changed me. For the better — because now I am more aware that anything can become a distraction in my life. I have had to press into God like never before. Continually, I have and will bring my calling before Him and submit it to His standards and He will show me where I am off. The research and studying I am doing has blessed me to see that it’s not just social media and technology, as busyness and distractions come in many forms and even good ones! (Ever been the mom addicted to your kids?!) I have found freedom in even acknowledging this issue and in taking steps to become more others-focused.
It’s okay to admit to ourselves that we are addicted to any distraction (good or bad), and that we have been consumed in the temporary realm. But after we repent and change our focus, let’s enjoy this life being present, because it’s a flash compared to the far better glorious, eternal one, that’s on its way.
In His Love,
(In sharing this, I hope you feel no judgment or condemnation from me or from God as His way is gentle rebuke and not feelings of guilt.)
Do you struggle with being present and off your phone? Does it sound too strong in your opinion to say we are a culture addicted to distraction? I’d love to hear any tips/advice or comments on how you balance social media/technology in your home with your responsibilities? If you are still finding solutions, I am right there with you. 🙂 I would love to hear from you exactly where you are at! No judgment here! XO