Last Sunday, I took a break from social media – for a week. It’s not the first time my soul has felt the need, nor will it be the last. And generally, it’s not something I feel the need to publicize. But in this last week, I have felt so refreshed that I thought it would do me good to jot down these little reminders for future me – and maybe you can relate?
So for future me who might feel the prompting to take a break … here are some reminders of times you might need to step away from the beast that is social media.
- When You’re Feeling Far from God
When life is busy and you keep avoiding heart issues, and devotions are a routine that you quickly skip through, and you feel a void in your heart – the place to turn to isn’t Facebook. Yet how often do I do just that – as if the answers to life’s problems will be found in my anxious and endless scrolling down – as if one more post will make me happy?
Last Saturday, I wrote in my journal – “I feel fragile and vulnerable – and that’s exactly where He does His best work … right where I need to trust Him most. I need to listen better, instead of filling my life with the noisy clamor of the world. I need to fast from social media this week and just focus on my relationship with Jesus above all else. He wants to woo my heart. And I want to surrender and let Him.”
And that’s what happened this week. Christ became so much more desirable to me than the casual flip of the status meter, and He burned the remembrance of His overwhelming love into my forgetful brain. It was like a dry, sun-cracked hardened desert floor being immersed in a gushing waterfall. His grace was a flood that burst through my walls of resistance.
And it was only possible by taking my mind off of that mindless distraction of social media that I’d fallen in the habit of checking every few hours. I’m tired of writing my essay? Check Facebook. Waiting in line for too long at the grocery store? Check Facebook. Bored in the evening? Check Facebook, obviously. And every time I let my mind wander into the endless scrolling trap, I wasn’t turning it back to my Savior … where I most needed it to be.
My soul was hungry, and I was feeding it with things that only made it hungrier. Instead, I needed to turn away from those false promises of satisfaction, and turn to the One who made my soul to be satisfied in Himself.
- When You’re Feeling Discontent or Discouraged
Comparison through social media and other people’s lives kills a person’s joy faster than anything else. Sometimes you just need to remove the comparison temptation altogether until you can remember again that it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in other people’s lives – because the life God gave you is pretty stinkin’ amazing.
Similarly, if the events of the world get too depressing, it does not help to keep reading the negativity again and again on Facebook. News headlines will never stop – but that doesn’t mean we need to subject ourselves to constant digestion of them. Rather, we should spend more time praying for our nation and immersing ourselves in the promise of our Savior who is the ultimate hope.
- When You Look to It for Your Source of Affirmation
It’s not always this way. But sometimes we become aware that we’re caring far too much about who’s liking our posts and how many people are liking them. We get a strange sense of identity from our online presence, which is odd because it’s not really a human interaction. It’s screen interaction – a representation of real life that looks great and ignores everything else that might actually be going on in a person’s life.
Sometimes if we don’t love our lives very much, we capitalize on one or two things that look great through an Instagram filter – because then people will “like” it and we’ll feel better about our lives. It’s a way of controlling how people perceive us and it gives us affirmation for the pretty parts of our lives. Never mind what we wouldn’t dare post on social media – that part we can easily tuck away in darkened rooms as we’re falling asleep that no one can see.
Walking away from social media is sometimes a way to force ourselves to concentrate on reality – what’s actually going on in my life? What does enjoying this cup of tea actually look like instead of worrying about getting the right angle so that everyone else online can see how serene my day is going? What does it look like to be honest with God throughout the day about fears, anxieties, stresses, anger, and jealousy in constant prayer instead of forcing those thoughts away while we post another picture online of a beautiful sunset?
Those might not be your motivations at all – and I don’t want to make you paranoid about other people’s posts online, so that you wonder if everything they post is a cover-up or if it’s real. Because there is a way to enjoy sharing life online without using it as an escape mechanism or a façade painter. I’m just saying there are times in our lives when we have to be blood-and-guts honest with ourselves, and if this is true about our hearts, then it absolutely means we need to shut down social media for a week – maybe longer.
Social media is not evil. It is not the enemy in and of itself. It’s just another tool – like food or Netflix or relationships – to pull our sinful hearts away from our first love – our Savior. It’s one more thing that we must learn to master, lest it master us. And recognizing how to make conscious choices about the time we spend on it will help us to be disciplined in our hearts and our thought lives.
Some social media fasts for me in the past have been hard. I’ve wanted to know what’s going on in other people’s lives, and it’s been a struggle not to tap on the icon on my phone “just real quick.” But this week? I haven’t even desired it. At all. [Full disclosure: I did break it last Sunday night for the sake of my best friend’s engagement. But monumental life events must be celebrated.]
I think I had gotten so tired of reaching for unsatisfying water, that my soul was so ready to turn in the other direction and run hard to Jesus. He put a desire in my heart for only Him this week, and it’s been so beautiful to explore that relationship much more deeply. I don’t claim credit – I don’t claim to be super-spiritual or holy. Just the opposite, actually. I had become addicted to social media, and I needed to let it go. And Christ was merciful to answer my prayer to meet me in my great need for Him.
I pray that I won’t forget this week anytime soon. That I wouldn’t return to old habits or slip into old lies. But instead that I would have my heart set on fire so that I can manage my heart and my time more wisely and honestly. And that Christ would continue to reveal Himself to me as the Lover of my Soul in ways that I could never even imagine. He is so good to me.