Social Media Detox: 5 Things I’ve Noticed in My First Week

Last week, after a lot of thought, I decided to give up social media for Lent. I don’t usually give up something for Lent or even think much about this season, primarily because I’m a non-denominational Christian, and my church doesn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on observing this tradition. But when I started reading about the origin of Lent and the idea of giving up something in order to focus more on God and prepare your heart for Easter, I wanted to participate this year. It wasn’t that tough for me to decide what to give up because I already knew I sorely needed a social media detox. It’s just been sucking me in way too much lately and becoming a time-waster and comparison trap when I’m not careful.

It was a little scary to sign off completely for  because I’m just so used to keeping up with everyone’s news, photos, and updates through Facebook and Instagram. I definitely second-guessed myself as I went to bed that night, and wondered if I was going to regret this decision.
However, by the end of the first detox day, I was LOVING this break. I couldn’t believe how freeing it was to be disconnected and unplugged from the internet world. 

Here are 5 things I’ve noticed from my first week off social media:

1) I really don’t miss it like I thought I would. 
In fact, I don’t really miss Facebook AT ALL. The only times I found myself really wanting to get on it were 1) to look for something on a “swap group” (buy/sell/trade groups are where I get basically all of Lydia’s toys) and 2)  to get on one of the “natural mamas” groups I’m in to get some advice. Other than that, I really haven’t missed anything about Facebook!

2) I do miss Instagram. 
I really love posting photos on Instagram as a way to chronicle our life with Lydia. For me, Instagram is like an online journal and I really miss posting photos from our activities and memories with Lydia. If I don’t put photos on Instagram, they just get transferred to my computer once my phone runs out of space and then they sit in deep, dark folders on my laptop and are completely out of sight, out of mind. 🙁  I love that Instagram gives me a way to keep all the major photos and highlights all in one place. So I will definitely be glad to get back on Instagram once these 40 days are over. 🙂

3) A lot of my Facebook friends aren’t real-life friends.
I used to have about 700 Facebook friends, which really isn’t a lot compared to what some people have, I know. But a couple months ago, I felt like it was getting out of hand and half the people I was seeing on my news-feed I’d only met once or twice or had no current contact with them. So, I went through and deleted 250 “friends” in one sitting. Of course, none of them were actual real-life friends. But even with my now 400-ish “friends,” I realize that many of them I never talk to in real life and have no real relationship with. I’m not trying to sound rude, but now that I’m off Facebook I realize how many people I really don’t care to keep up with via photos and statuses while never seeing them in real life. It just seems so fake and time-wasting, once I’ve stepped back and looked at it from a different perspective now.

4) My real-life friends are still my friends even without Facebook.
Imagine that! 😉 It’s been good for me to realize this past week that even though I might be “out of the loop” when it comes to Facebook updates, pictures, etc., I’ve still had plenty of meaningful interactions, conversations, and text message exchanges with the people who are my real-life community. The close friends I have are not going to forget about me just because I’m not on social media. It sounds silly to say, but it was honestly I secret concern I had when getting off Facebook especially. But guess what? I can get photos of my real-life friend’s babies via text messaging, and I can still stay up-to-date with the people I really care about through coffee dates and FaceTime.
I’m beginning to think Facebook just made me *feel* like I was connected to so many people when really the actual meaningful connections happen outside of Facebook and they happen with a core group of 10-15 friends, not 400. Obvious, I know. But that hadn’t fully sunk in for me until now.

5) I am so much more present without social media in my life.
Present in the moment. Present in conversations with my husband. Present while waiting in line at the store. Present with my baby while she’s playing on the floor next to me.
I never spent hours of time just scrolling on Facebook, but my issue was all the 5 or 10 minute increments here and there where I would be waiting for someone, or in line somewhere, or in between activities, or {you name it} and, out of habit, I’d pull out my phone and open Facebook to see what my 700 400 friends were up to. It really wasn’t uplifting, or a good use of time, but it had just become my habit somehow. Now that I don’t have that option, I’ve found that I’m way more present in the moment and engaging more in the world around me. Instead of being head-down in line at the store with my eyes on my phone, I’m noticing the people around me and actually having conversations with them sometimes. What?? What did people do before they had their phones to stare at in line? Maybe they actually made small talk with the people around them?? Crazy. 😛

All in all, I’ve LOVED this first week of my social media detox. It’s been freeing. Eye-opening. And revealed a lot to me about myself. I’ve got a lot more thoughts to share (literally; I have a 1,000 word blog post about my love/hate relationship with Facebook that is sitting in my Drafts folder… yikes. Long-winded, much? :-0)

…which I guess leads me to another thing I’ve noticed from my first week, if I can just tack this on at the end:

—> Since I’m not on social media, I’m spending my time in much more constructive ways. I’m writing a lot more; playing guitar; powering through books from the library like crazy. Even though my social media usage was (usually) just 5 or 10 minutes here and there, it all adds up, and (for me) it definitely created this underlying bad habit that I would get sucked into instead of spending my time on the things that really bring me joy and fulfillment.

Well, there you have it. My first week of detox has been incredible. I did not expect this. I thought I was going to be so frustrated at not being able to keep up with everything online. I was pretty certain I’d be bored a lot or feel sad that I wasn’t up-to-date on everyone’s pictures and statuses and what-not. I did not expect to actually love this break or feel lighter and happier because of it.  Who knows…I might end up getting “off the grid” altogether after this experience… :-0

God’s Guidance + Slowing Down

Friends, it’s been one of those days where one cup of coffee just didn’t cut it. Baby girl woke up multiple times during the night last night, which has been the norm the past few weeks. I’d gotten spoiled with a baby who started sleeping 8 hours through the night at 4 weeks old!! Well, no worries, I have now joined the ranks of the sleep-deprived mamas, even if I’m a tad late with my arrival.
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On the bright side, the little stinker wakes up SOOO happy every morning that it’s impossible to be grumpy at her for more than a second. The moment I walk into her line of vision (usually this is around 6:30am) she’s grinning up at me from her crib and jabbering on, always with one hand in her mouth, as if she’s got a lot to catch me up on since our 4:30am pow-wow. Couldn’t think of a better way to start my day, even if it’s a tad earlier than I would have preferred. 🙂

Since it was Tuesday, we headed off to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) this morning! Rob and I used to be a part of the young adults BSF class here in St. Louis (we were both leaders when we were dating/engaged and then I was a leader again last school year too) but this year I’ve joined the all-women’s class so that Lydia can go to the little nursery there. The ladies in the nursery are so sweet  and shower Lydia with love. They sing Bible songs to the babies and tell them a Bible story while their mamas get to have some distraction-free time to study God’s Word together.

BSF is such a breath of fresh air to my heart every week. Fellowship with godly women who inspire me in my faith journey. Talking with other mamas and being reminded that I’m not alone in this motherhood thing. Studying God’s Word. Grace and life from that Word washing over my soul. 

Today, during the large-group teaching time (which follows the small-group discussion), one thought especially stood out to me from the message:

“Do you consult God before making plans, or do you make plans and then ask or expect God to bless them?” 

This was convicting for me as I thought about it and realized that most often I just make my own plans without really much prayer. Of course, Rob and I pray about big decisions like buying a house, applying for jobs, etc., but when it comes to those smaller, day-by-day decisions, I tend to think I can figure that stuff out without God’s input. I don’t do this consciously, but I unintentionally leave Him out of the decision-making process. 
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I was challenged by the message today to slow down enough in my day-to-day decisions and plans to ask God what would be best and ask Him to guide my steps. If someone had suggested this idea to me several years ago, I would have thought it was a little extreme to actually present these kinds of things to God or to even think that He cared about them. But the more I’ve learned about God and His character, the more I believe that He DOES care about even the littlest details of our lives. Not in an overbearing, control-freak kind of way. I don’t think He’s looking down from heaven and wanting to micro-manage every moment of every person’s day or take away their free will. But I think He’s like a loving father, who cares genuinely about his children, who wants to hear our desires, dreams, and longings. He wants to help us through the stressful parts of the day and the struggles we have with uncertainty about the future. He wants to be involved in even the most mundane parts of our lives because he truly cares that much about each of us. It blows my mind when I really stop and think about it. He loves each of us so much.

My goal for moving forward is to involve God more fully in my decisions, both big and small. Rob and I have been reading through 1 Samuel together and in 1 Samuel 3 is the story of Samuel learning to hear God’s voice. The priest tells Samuel, who is just a young boy at the time, that when he hears the voice calling to him, he should reply, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!”  It’s such a beautiful picture of being open and eager to be led by God. So often I am too “busy” with the hectic speed of life to really slow down and be open to God’s guidance. Especially as we enter the holiday season – the most hurried and frenzied time of the year – I want to remember to slow down, be present in each moment, and be ready to follow God’s guidance every day. 

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you struggle with slowing down and being ready to listen to God? 

How can you be intentional this week to involve God in your decisions and plans?

Sovereign Over Us

(originally written July 30, 2016)

If you have a Facebook account, you’ve probably noticed from time to time that Facebook will remind you of memories from years past of what you posted on any given day. I don’t usually give them much notice, but this morning the memory Facebook popped up with was one that brought back many emotions along with it.

11694089_667929953306560_6350319234625176378_nA year ago today, I shared a picture of the whiteboard on our fridge. Rob had written lyrics on it from a song called “Sovereign Over Us” by Michael W Smith. I wrote in my post about how these lyrics were such an encouragement to me; a reminder that God is in control even when it doesn’t necessarily feel like it at times. I wrote about how this song had been playing on repeat in my car and home for the past week.

What I didn’t say in my post was that the reason this song meant so much to me was that we had been trying for several months to get pregnant, with no success. With each month that passed, I felt like more of a failure. I felt like something was wrong with me. I had already been nervous about my ability to get pregnant because of my history with anorexia, and it felt like each month that fear was becoming more of a reality, no matter how hard I tried to trust God and have faith.

Rob introduced me to this song somewhere around that time, and it quickly became my lifeline, my reminder that God was with me. I literally played it on repeat over and over again in my car during every tough day, and wrote the lyrics in my journal many times. I listened to it on my trail runs, and sung it, through tears sometimes, while I cooked dinner.

One weekend we went to a wedding where it seemed like every woman around me was pregnant. It felt as if everywhere I turned there was a reminder of the ache in my heart that had yet to be satisfied. I felt pretty defeated by the end of the night, despite my best efforts to keep a smile on my face. However, the next day at church, this same song came on the screen during our worship and I had tears of hope running down my cheekse as I sung the very familiar lines:

“There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust”

Up until now, I’ve been afraid to talk or write about how much I struggled emotionally with this journey of trying to conceive, because I know there are so many couples out there who tried far longer than we did to get pregnant. There are so many who have had to wrestle with long-term infertility or are faced with the inability to ever have children.
My heart breaks for them. I can’t even come close to imagining or understanding how painful that heartache must be.
I feel embarrassed sometimes with how much I struggled through the months that it took us to conceive.
But I’m learning as time has gone by that although my story quickly pales in comparison to so many others who are dealing with far more painful circumstances, this is still my story, and I hope that perhaps by sharing it, it will be an encouragement to someone else in their journey too.

I like to think sometimes that I am in control of my life. I love making lists, planning out my day (and my month, if I’m being honest) being organized, and feeling confident of how “the plan” is going to go. Needless to say, I approached our efforts to conceive with my usual Type A mindset: if I do XYZ, I should be able to guarantee ____ outcome.

trust-godWhen one month after another passed by with no sign of a baby, I was forced to admit that I really wasn’t in control. This is one of the many lessons I was reminded of again and again during those months of doubt and fear. It felt as if the Lord was gently whispering, “Let go of your need for control. Stop exhausting yourself with this struggle. Surrender. I know what’s best for you and I have good things in store for you. Trust Me.”

It’s a lesson that I’m still learning to this day. I don’t think I’ll ever be done with it. It’s a continuous endeavor, and some days and weeks are better than others. I still struggle to let go of my desire for control. I still try (often) to hold the reigns to my life, but God gently reminds me again and again that I can trust and rest in Him.  Surrender is not a dramatic one-time event, but rather a journey of many little steps, just one foot in front of the other. And I’m trying to make those small, moment-by-moment choices to have faith in His sovereign plan. He has good things in store for me, and for you. You can trust Him, friend.

“Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us”
–Sovereign Over Us by Michael W. Smith