(Have you seen this video yet ^? If not, it is well worth the 5 minutes, I promise!)
There has only been one time in my life that I fasted for Lent. It was 4 years ago, and I had given up the gym. I know, I know – sounds like a great fast, right? Doesn’t sound like something hard to give up. But for me that year, it was. I was getting married that June and had become quite obsessed with the gym. I was spending a ton of mental and physical energy on trying to look a very specific way for my wedding. As I decided I wanted to try a Lenten fast, I asked God what He wanted me to give up during that time. The gym kept coming to my mind but I would push it away, thinking there was no way God was asking me to do that, since working out is good for us and He wants us to take care of our bodies. But then I talked to a friend and was telling her about wanting to fast when she said, “This might sound really weird and crazy Krystal, but the gym keeps coming to my mind. Do you think God could be asking you to give up working out for Lent?” Ha funny, God. Real funny. So I assumed that must be what I was supposed to do and decided that I could exercise but not work out (distinguishing “exercise” as simple movement, rather than “working out” which implies more intensity). So basically, I could go on walks where I could enjoy the company of a friend, listen to a podcast or pray but nothing more than that. As it turns out, God revealed a lot to me of my heart and vanity during that time and He drew me so close to Himself.
The gym is a good thing. Working out glorifies God. But often what we need to fast from are good things that have become god things in our hearts.
I hadn’t planned on fasting for Lent this year, but a couple of weeks ago I realized that one good thing that had become a god thing for me was social media. My addiction had gotten out of hand, but it was easy to justify it to myself by pointing out that my obsession with it did not seem much different than anyone else in the US with a smart phone. I would just say, “this is just a cultural norm, it’s no big deal.” But just because it is permissible, does not mean that it is beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23). I found myself feeling anxious if a large part of the day had passed before I had checked in with my networks. I also had been feeling really stressed by the volume of relationships in my life and thought, “I wonder if I’m really stressed out by the amount of local relationships I am involved in right now, OR do I just feel like the volume is more dense because of all of the people I am constantly following and checking in on via social media in addition to my local friendships?”
As I pondered this thought, I also came across this blog post by Kelly Needham (love what she writes about): Twitter-itis: Is Social Media Making us Sick?
It made me realize that I was getting “sick” in the way that she described.
So I decided to do a little experiment and fast from Facebook and Instagram for the remaining 2 weeks of Lent. I thought for sure I would have a hard time doing it and that I would be eager to come back on Easter weekend. But I’ve been really surprised by the fact that it has actually been really easy, and I don’t miss it one bit. On the contrary, I have actually considered deactivating both accounts after Easter. It has been incredibly refreshing to be disconnected.
Here are some things I’ve noticed during my fast:
- It was in fact social media that was adding to my stress with my relational capacity. Without social media, I have not felt at all stressed by the amount of local relationships I have.
- The things listed in Kelly’s blog post were absolutely true for me. By removing social media from my life I found that I was still more often, and had the space to contemplate things for longer periods of time. I wasn’t comparing myself to others nearly as often. And perhaps most important: my spiritual alertness majorly increased! I found myself in prayer far more often because people or things would come to my mind and I would pray for them. Since I wasn’t filling all my space and stillness with my phone apps, I was able to more easily recognize the nudging of the Holy Spirit.
- In general, my Kingdom perspective has just been sharpened. I’ve sensed a renewed passion for spreading the gospel and influencing our community.
- I have felt significantly more content. With myself, my body, my home, my life, etc. Since I haven’t been constantly surrounded by idyllic snapshots of people’s personas 24/7, I was able to just be who I am where I am and see the absolute beauty of it.
- I have felt more present everywhere that I am and have enjoyed more fully every person that I have been with. There have been some specific days where I have been with my family or a friend and I just felt like the time was richer and more fulfilling. I wasn’t as worried about capturing photos of it for Instagram or thinking of a clever way to say something on Facebook.
- I have been sleeping a lot better.
- I have been less influenced by others in decisions I make or the lifestyle I want to pursue. It has been nice to think about and research different lifestyle things without being surrounded by pictures of people’s food and material things – which often leads me into covetousness and competition.
So there you have it! I’m not sure what I’m going to do about my social media accounts right now, but I do know that I will not be using them nearly as often. I am so thankful for Facebook and Instagram and all of the many ways that we have to connect with one another. Were it not for these networks, there are some very dear friendships in my life that would not exist! Praise God for the invention of it :). It just needs to be put back in its place as a good thing for me, rather than a God thing.
From the iPhone mom herself,