What A Break From Social Media Taught Me

The red dot popped up again so I dropped what I was doing to check my notification only to realize that I was invited to yet another direct sales group.  I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t something more exciting.  Something more pressing.  Something more significant.

What is it about that red dot?  Why do I feel the need to drop everything, whether I’m reading my Bible or having a sweet conversation with my daughter?  Why is it so compelling?

When I was little, there were no red dots.  There was a mailbox on the porch and a phone with a cord but nothing quite so instantaneous – nothing that beckoned my attention so strongly and discreetly.

vintage phone

This stage of life has been a challenging one.  As a stay-at-home mom and blogger, I have struggled with remembering that my significance is in Christ alone.   In my prior life before motherhood, I had a high-profile job on a church staff.   To a degree, I put my identity in my role and my seminary training.  As a result, I often find myself grasping for significance where it simply cannot be found.

When I get to the heart of the matter, I get excited about the potential of someone on the other end of the red dot who related to something I said, looked at my blog or just liked the funny meme I posted.  My true intention is never to seek the approval of others but sin is subtle and the enemy knows our weaknesses.

Especially as women, who think 12 thoughts while simultaneously juggling just as many tasks, the enemy likes to fly under the radar.  Our most destructive thoughts are the ones we are least aware of and it is absolutely no coincidence that these temptations emerge when we least expect them – usually at the most chaotic of times.

Renovated Faith

It’s difficult to admit that those dots gave me a subtle, but present, feeling of being needed, wanted and valued – nevermind the fact that it was in a social media realm that doesn’t truly exist.  All the while, my Creator and Savior sits waiting for me to open my eyes to where my true significance lies.  He beckons me to cultivate the one relationship that matters most but I’m too caught in my own web of self-involvement that His grace-filled invitations often go unnoticed. 

As an experiment, I decided to delete facebook from my phone at least for a time.  I left it on my computer because it is still a tool I use it to keep up with friends and to share blog posts.  Deleting it from my phone made is much less accessible and therefore less enticing.  Here are some things I discovered:

  • Drug-like Habit – Even after deleting it from my phone, I would mindlessly pick it up with the intention to scroll through my newsfeed. Almost like an involuntary reflex, I picked it up over a dozen times the first day out of pure habit.
  • What I Missed Out On – At the end of the day, I looked forward to going to my computer to see ALL the amazing content I must have missed.  To my surprise, I missed nothing – unless you count some empty notifications and the chance to learn about these beauties from a friend’s post.
TopShop Jeans
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  • New Focus – I completed tasks faster and was much more focused as I worked on them.
  • Mental Excuse – My mornings were smoother.  I realized I would lay in bed and scroll through my newsfeed purely out of hesitation to “start my day”. I would often use my phone as a mental excuse to not do something I dreaded or feared.
  • Pray Instead – When I got the itch to check my phone, I decided to pray instead. After just one week, my prayer life has been much better am giving my fears to God instead of just avoiding those situations by checking my phone.

 

The problem isn’t social media so much as what social media provides – instant gratification – quick and easy access to the things we desire most.  In our eyes, it can be a catalyst to what we hold dear – but in reality, it only supplies quick delivery on flawed goods.   Like hoping to find a rare diamond in a gumball machine, we look to the wrong place for what we need most.

The things that give us true meaning and fulfillment take time, work and commitment:  Relationships, job fulfillment, contentment – “there’s no app for that”.

Social Media Addiction

So often, we fall into the trap of seeking good things in the wrong location.  This is the very crux of our humanity.  Just like Eve who sought knowledge – but from the forbidden tree, or Sarah who sought motherhood – but in her own time-frame by having her husband lay with her maidservant.

Fortunately, our significance doesn’t come from how much others notice us.  It’s quite the contrary.  What God has called you to do, although seemingly insignificant is important simply because He has called you to do it. 

Significance

We are significant because our connection to Him and Him alone, no matter our status.  Don’t confuse your significance with your station in life.  Whether you are a stay at home mom or a CEO, we all play an important role in God’s plan.

What if we evaluated Mary’s significance by her station in life at the time of Christ’s birth.  She was an average Jewish woman giving birth in today’s equivalent of a barn, and not the white shiplap type.  However, her intrinsic value as a child of God and the mother of our Savior makes her an invaluable tool for God’s purposes.  Our surroundings and status are independent of our worth as they are props on the stage of His divine plan to bring about His will in our lives.

Our significance comes not because of how many see what we do but significance comes because of our connection to Christ.  God loves to use ordinary things and make them extraordinary.  Simply say yes to God’s plans.  Use your ordinary life to serve and extraordinary Savior.

If you find yourself constantly checking your phone often and for no apparent reason, what are you hoping to get from it?  Is it significance or something else entirely?  What do you feel like you are missing and where are you running to fill the desires that only Christ can?  Take a minute to pray about that and you’ll be amazed at the freedom of remembering where your significance lies.

‘Til Next Time,

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Social Media

My “Little” Sin

Last night, I forgot to put cooking spray on the baking sheet for Morgan’s favorite food – tater tots.  This caused them to stick to the pan, making little holes in the surface of each.  This was a horrible transgression in the eyes of my very picky 5-year-old daughter. Naturally, she started crying as she was already sick, hungry, and had determined her tater tots were no longer edible

As I fixed her something else to eat, she leaned over to feed them to our already-stuffed dog, Kallie.  You know where this is headed…after cleaning up an unbelievable amount of dog vomit, Jeremy walked over to console Morgan and slipped on the wet floor where I had just cleaned!  After a few minutes questioning my life path, I realized all the chaos was a result of breaking a little rule in our household: “Thou shalt spray all tater tot pans with cooking spray.”

Sin often has the same correlation.  2 Samuel 11 shows us how small sins can be a “gateway drug” to much larger ones because sin always breeds more sin.  The passage explains that after a big victory over the Syrians, King David decided to stay home when the rest of the kings would customarily go to battle.  That was his first mistake in that He wasn’t where God wanted him.  Then, as he was lounging around the house, he saw Bathsheba bathing.  Seeing her is one thing but the Hebrew word suggests that he “examined” her.

If David had stayed in step with God’s Will, he would never have seen Bathsheba in the first place.  His lust and abuse of power lead to sleeping with Bathsheba, whom soon become pregnant.  Instead of fessing up, he felt the need to “fix” the situation by requesting that her husband Uriah be put on the front lines of battle.  Not only was he placed at the forefront of the most heated battle, but David also gave instructions for the rest of the army to pull away so Uriah would surely be killed.    When his plan to kill Uriah succeeded, he immediately married Bathsheba.

The story of David and Bathsheba illustrates that all sin should be avoided at any cost.  The Bible shows that some sins are greater than others but small sins make us vulnerable to larger sins by design.  This is the case when David neglected to go out with his army.  Stepping out of God’s Will made him vulnerable to sin and ultimately the murder of a loyal soldier.  Sin at its core is always consuming and leaves us wanting more or something it can never provide.

Carelessness with sin includes the way we approach the sins of others.   Our Christian sub-culture has a habit of rationalizing the economy of sin, often posting on Facebook about the large sins while simultaneously wallowing in the small ones.  Unfortunately, I’m equally guilty.  Often times I think I overlook the “small” sins in my life but the reality is that all sin has the same penalty, no matter the size.  All sin is deadly.

On the contrary, the truths of God’s Word satisfy our soul like nothing else can.  We are drawn towards sin because of our sinful nature, but we often think we can achieve through sin what only our God can provide.  For example, in high school I had low self-esteem, a poor body image and wanted to feel validation and self-worth.  However, I sought the wrong sources for validation.  I thought I could achieve it through looking a certain way and “dieted” to the point I was obsessed with losing weight.   This fixation soon spiraled into something ugly   I desired validation but I looked for it in how others perceived me and my own self-image instead of the only source of my validation – Jesus Christ. Except God doesn’t only give us validation; He gives us something far greater – Redemption!

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We are most contented and satisfied when we walk in God’s ways.  C.S. Lewis once said “ Look for Christ and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else.”  God wants nothing more for us to follow Him because of His extravagant love.  This is where our hope lies, where our humanity meets his divinity.

It’s difficult to comprehend the full weight of his love, compassion and grace that He has bestowed on His children – that He would send His only son to die for us individually.  For those who trust in Him as Savior, He gives the right to be children of God.  I am learning that when I am careless with my sin, it belittles the overwhelming sacrifice He paid for me on the cross.   Sin damages our relationships with Christ, strains our ability to abide in Him and even decreases our effectiveness in ministry.  Sin always leads to chaos and pain.

In spite of David’s sin, He was still referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” in 1 Samuel 13:14.  Even though David screwed up, He continued to seek the Lord.  David knew God was his only true source of love, satisfaction and contentment, that everything else would fall short.  Sin only distracts us from walking with Him as should. The only one who can truly satisfy the human heart is the one who made it.

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Divine Coincidence

As a stay at home mom, I’m often tempted to believe the lie that I’m not capable of making a big impact in God’s Kingdom.   I was wallowing in this assumption on my way to Walmart with Morgan one morning.  When I got there, I kept seeing the same Indian woman over and over.  I almost ran into her with my cart accidentally, because it seemed every turn I took, she was there.  This was shortly after the Paris attacks so couldn’t help but wonder how it made her feel.  I must have seen her at least eight different times to the point that we chuckled and smiled at one another the last couple times.  It was then I realized this wasn’t a coincidence (actually, I’m not sure if there really is such a thing) and I knew it was my job to pray for her…to pray for her salvation and whatever she might be dealing with at the time.   So, as we walked back to the car, I prayed for her, knowing that there is tremendous power in prayer.  1 John 5:14-15, states “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”  Therefore, God tells us that ANYTHING that we pray that is in accordance with His Will, will come to pass.

My parents live in our neighborhood and I had to drop something off at their house one morning.  I noticed an Indian woman walking down the sidewalk.  She was wearing a coral top, button-down top, black pants and a head covering.  I said hello and walked up the driveway.  Not 5 minutes later, I was back at our house.  At the same point on the sidewalk I noticed an Asian woman wearing the exact same colored, button-down top and pants walking down the exact same point of the sidewalk at our house.  I thought, “That’s a weird coincidence” and realized that maybe I was supposed to pray for these two women.  James 5:16 says that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective”.  Because of what He did on the cross for me, I am righteous in His sight and my prayers are backed by His power – the very same power that created the heavens and the earth.

I may never know the eternal outcome of those prayers, but I do know that if I would have been too hurried about my to-do list, I would have missed seeing them altogether.  God wants us to be still enough to notice “coincidences”.  For, if He knows the very number of hairs on our heads and stars in the sky, then He is working behind the scenes in more intricate ways than we can ever fathom.  I am now convinced that such coincidences are God’s way of inviting you to play participate in the eternal.

coincidence

Often I get so preoccupied with my to do list or trying to become efficient and effective for His Kingdom that I forget to watch for “coincidences” and listen to what the Holy Spirit is really trying to tell me.   Our American culture is not conducive to concept of stillness.  As I type this, there is a phone sitting next to me that is like crack cocaine for someone as myself with a short attention span.   Our world feeds us layer upon layer of distraction and our American culture tells us that if your life is not hurried and overcommitted, you have no life at all.  What’s interesting to note is that Jesus was usually busy but He was never hurried.  He always gave proper attention to what the Father gave Him in that moment.  He was never too hurried to talk to the women at the well or have the little children sit at His feet.

What’s ironic is that by human terms, Jesus was never really efficient or effective in doing ministry.  If He was, he might not have sent a small band of inadequate men to evangelize the entire world.  Also, Christ’s main ministry was most successful after His death. My point is this – God does not limit himself to human plans, efforts and concepts.  As high as the heavens are from the earth, so are His thoughts than our thoughts and His ways than our ways (Isaiah 55:9).  So it is a much better use of time and energy to sit and wait for our Father’s instructions than rush ahead of God’s Will.

It is ironic that stillness is the ultimate time-saver.  What God can accomplish through us in 10 minutes of prayers is more than we can do on our own in a lifetime.  I’m so very thankful that God does not work in human terms and His ways are perfect.  I’m also grateful that God does not call the qualified, but he qualifies the called.  Our most important job is not to plot how we can be effective for ministry, as that is a great recipe for getting in the way of God’s perfect plans.  But our role is to sit at His feet, to be still and know that He is God.  When we are still enough, we begin to become in-tune with how God is continually working around us, we come to how God has intricately positioned us in His plan.  Our highest calling and greatest role in life is as children who sit at His feet and listen attentively.  When we are hurried and preoccupied with our to-do lists, we might miss out on being a part of how God is working around us and most importantly, how He wants to work through us.

coincidence - prayer