Journal Entry 04/11/2018
Nine years. I lived my life here for nine years. It was a place of comfort when I felt down. It was where I turned when I needed words of affirmation or acceptance. It was where I found ideas and came for a feeling of fulfillment. It was distraction on a bad day, a place to rejoice on a good day.
This place, it has held so many personal entries, like a daily journal, for so many years. In many ways, I grew up here. I had babies here. I got sick here. I learned how to be a mom here. I learned about the goodness of God here. And it’s all captured in pictures and my heart in words here.
Not really “here” in the physical sense, but all these life milestones were recorded here in this personalized spot that felt like home to me. And not just recorded with my words but with the words of others and with their likes and their love that somehow made each milestone feel even more meaningful.
I don’t remember when the first suggestion to let go came. I know the idea offered itself when I started to learn that I was created for a purpose and it was good and slowly this place lost some of its sparkle for me. I heard the suggestion in my head again when I read about policy changes and privacy concerns but I brushed it off, not wanting to be bothered with thinking of such things at the moment. I’ve thought of it more often lately, though, and last week I just knew it was time.
It was time to let go of Facebook as I had known it.
With that decision came instant excitement and sadness.
I knew it was a step in the direction I truly want to go. This place was not what I had built it up in my heart to be – I knew that in my core.
It wasn’t comfort – not now that I know what the real comfort of a loving God can be.
It wasn’t truly affirming – no person, myself or anyone else, will ever find lasting acceptance or affirmation within this space – it’s a hamster wheel of futility to even try. We have a longing in us that is God-shaped and as much as words of praise or the admiration of others feels good for a minute, it will never lead to fulfillment. The enemy knows that and will always offer a counterfeit to distract us from the real thing – the only One who can truly satisfy.
I would reach for my phone first thing every morning, any time I needed an escape or distraction, and last thing every night. A few minutes would turn into ten times that, multiple times a day.
Facebook didn’t ask anything of me – it just offered a passive filling of my mind with other peoples’ beliefs, media agendas, fear-mongering health news, and others’ highlight reels. It was easy.
And it was stealing from me.
It stole my time. Time when my kids were playing and waiting to see if I would watch them but I was taking “just a minute” to update my latest Facebook post, then twenty more to check the notifications after. My go-to when I didn’t feel well was Facebook but I look back now and think, how much of my kids’ lives did I miss escaping into my phone? They were only little once – I wish I was more fully present. And what might have been different if I had spent that year I spent sick in bed filling my mind with God’s promises instead of my newfeed? To be fair, at the time I was just trying to survive and Facebook offered a respite – a way to live life without really living it.
It stole from my relationships when I was sitting in the passenger seat while my husband drove and I used the time I could have spent talking to him browsing online.
It stole from me emotionally when I hopped on for “just a minute”and left feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. It’s a crazy truth that you can now get news of a friend’s death, someone who is in the hospital in dire straits, another shooting, more media propaganda, and how the food you’re eating might be killing you all in the space of two minutes.
To be clear, I do not believe Facebook is bad – like so many things, it’s how it’s used, not what it is, that determines its ability to harm or heal. I have realized that it has not always served me well and that somewhere along the line, I had become the servant. And I am not okay with that.
I decided to delete my account and open a new one to use in a much different capacity. I’m still not fully sure what that capacity will be but I know I want it to be very intentional and to be a tool to serve me well – I am still praying about what that looks like for me in this season. Facebook and social media can be so powerful and I’m so thankful for them. I love connecting with people I don’t get to see often and I love sharing what God is doing in our lives but neither necessitates me being online frequently throughout the day. Sad truth. I knew if I wanted to the future to look different from the past I needed to start sowing some different seeds. And so began the process of letting go.
I took screenshots of my posts, and saved videos and pictures from the last nine years. I figured it would be sad but I had no idea the torrent of emotion it would unload.
I cried as I read memories I’d forgotten about. I laughed at things the kids said that I wrote down. There was Little Bit’s squooshy thighs again – I miss those rolls. There was our Light Giver’s 4th birthday. There was our first camping trip…
I felt all the feelings again of posting something I loved and having other people love it, too. I felt the heartache of loss as I read through some dark times – I remembered what all was going on behind those posts and it reminded me to remember that there is always more to the story. I read posts from a girl who posted years ago – a girl I don’t even know now because I’ve changed so much. I thought of all the things I would tell her now if I could. I felt thankfulness for what God has done and what has changed and joy as I read the posts where I started to see who He really is and who I am because I’m His.
I saw some pretty significant things as I read back through all those posts – I’m so glad I did it.
I read posts from friends – words of encouragement and comfort. Words of admiration that felt so encouraging and healing when I received them. Words I still value dearly – I have precious people in my life, I believe we need people, and timely words can be such a gift – but words I no longer need just to be okay.
More realizations with each post…
Two days later it was all gone. Nine years. That day I was mainly just tired but the day after, it hit me like a wave of anxiety. What did I do?!
A few times throughout the day I found myself picking up my phone and tapping on Facebook before I even knew what I was doing. It was so second-nature that I did the motions without even thinking – and I told myself that is the very reason I did this and then I gave myself a little pep talk something along the lines of:
I get to live my life – I don’t have to let life live me. If something doesn’t serve me well, I can change it.
And that’s what I did – so why did I feel so sad? I felt like I lost something or like something had died.
I asked Cowboy, “Why do I feel such grief? Did I make the wrong decision?” And as my husband does so well, he answered honestly and to-the-point: “I think you got a lot of your identity from Facebook.”
Shoot. I think maybe he was right. I really didn’t think I did, especially the last year or so, but my feelings were saying differently. I have spent a lot of time lately learning about my identity in Christ – I always come back to it as the core issue of… everything – but it seems that just when I think I am getting a pretty good handle on something, I realize how much more there is to learn about it.
I don’t know about you but sometimes my roles in life feel pretty thankless and mundane and I can’t see much fruit from my work yet. I didn’t realize how much my involvement on Facebook made me feel more secure in my identity. When my husband pointed that out, I knew it was still the right decision to step back. I can’t afford to get my identity from a social media site. I don’t want to, because it’s the same song, different verse. I felt this way when I quit dance, again when I stopped doing karate, and again when I quit my job to become a stay at home mom and honestly, even while I was working full-time and doing my role well – identity has always been tied to what I do, and this is an opportunity for it to grow out of who I am. Where I feel lack is an opportunity for God to come in and show me who I am – if I let Him. If I’m not distracted by a zillion other things flashing before my eyes.
Distraction is a tricky thing and I personally think it’s one of the most-used tools in the devil’s toolbelt. If he can keep us distracted, he can keep us from making an impact because distraction steals focus and warps priorities. If he can keep us distracted, we can be right in front of the Promised Land and never step foot into it because we are too busy looking at all the little brushfires popping up around us. If he can keep us distracted, even with good things, he can keep us passive – too caught up in the world around us to realize what we have in us… WHO we have in us, that the world needs. If he can keep us distracted from Truth, it’s so easy to be ruled by feelings.
Since the switch, I haven’t been on Facebook for more than a few minutes to post in my Young Living groups, add a couple things to my profile, and check messages. For now I’m just trying to soak up this new chapter of less distraction. In the midst of daily life the last week, I’ve had moments of “ahh, so precious” and moments of “gah, this is rough.”
Cuddling with my boy last night – so precious. I usually have my phone to fill in the “voids” – those times when I’m being still and don’t have to talk to anyone. At night, I usually read a book on it or hop on Facebook, but last night I didn’t touch it. I just held my boy in my arms, smelled the sweet smell of his head after his shower, memorized the way he feels in my arms, and thanked God that he doesn’t think he’s too grown up to cuddle with his mom and dad before bed yet. It was the sweetest thing – it was just mine (until I shared it here) and I was fully there for all of it. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. What a gift. There have been many such times over the last week.
And then there was this morning. I spent extra time with the kids in our devotional time, pouring my heart out, trying to explain some important things to them and giving it my best effort. It ended with two of them running off excitedly after to play with their new imaginary guardian angel friends and one of them distraught that they couldn’t possibly think only about God 24/7. Neither was even close to the point I was hoping to convey and I found myself thinking, I spent all that time and effort and THAT’S what they took away from it? My first instinct was to hop on Facebook and post about it. It was discouraging at the time, but I could also see the humor in it, and I thought others might appreciate the real life-ness of it. Only I had decided not to post every little detail on a whim anymore – at least for this season. I texted a friend instead and she told me of a similar struggle and I got to connect with someone personally in a “me, too” moment. I wonder if that isn’t more valuable sometimes than offering fleeting entertainment to a handful.
Daily for me is looking a lot different than it used to. Not only am I largely off social media, but someone in our family had the bright idea to only watch TV on Friday nights (we don’t get actual channels but have been making our way through Full House a couple episodes at a time almost nightly) – go big or go home – so I am finding myself with more time to think, write, be…
Much to my relief, I have learned over the years that when I struggle with something, I’m never the only one. This decision is such a personal one and one that I feel is more answered by what season you’re in and what your priorities are than black or white, right or wrong. You may be stewarding social media and your time on it really well and if so, I think that’s amazing! But I’m betting if it’s not Facebook or social media that is trying to steal a little too much, something else is, and if I could offer one piece of encouragement, it would be to just start thinking about the answers to some questions:
Is there something besides the One who created me that I find myself frequently turning to to feel fulfilled? If there something I use or turn to frequently just to feel okay? At the end of my life, will I look back and be happy with how I am spending my time now? Will the way I am are spending my time now lead to what I really want later in life? Is it life-giving?
If not, I have good news: It’s a new day! You get to live your life. You get to tell your time where to go. You get to choose what you focus on, and since life as we know it is largely connected to what we focus on, that is a pretty fantastic gift. I think it’s good for all of us once in a while to hear that we can let go of what hasn’t been serving us well so our hands are open to grab hold of something better.
Here’s to the next chapter!