3 Things I Learned During My Social Media Absence

Over the past couple weeks, I've taken an intentional break from social media. The reason I pulled away was two-fold:

1. I knew I loved it too much.
2. I recently read a book that suggested the two-week period.

Today, I'll share 3 things I learned during my social media absence:

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Addicted to Social Media: a daily journal of my 2 week social media break

Two weeks ago, I deleted social media apps from my phone and banned myself from accessing them in any way over a period of 14 days. Because my purpose for this break was to develop my mind and heart, I decided to keep a daily journal specifically chronicling my struggles related to social media abstinence.

The journal below doesn’t offer a method or answers; it simply chronicles the struggles of my mind and heart over the past two weeks of breaking from social media. Most likely, some will be shocked that I became so addicted to social media. It’s okay; I was shocked too.

The real reason I’m sharing this journal? I think you might see reflections of your own struggles. And sometimes it’s helpful to read about someone else’s problems to help you see yours in a better light.

Some of the journal is so pathetic, it’s humorous. So feel free to laugh, because I laughed while re-reading it.
This is one journal that won’t get published and set beside Jim Elliot’s diary. Ahem.

 


 

THE NIGHT BEFORE: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 11

Since I’m normally active throughout the day on Instagram and Facebook, I decided to post an update about my scheduled two-week absence. That way, if anyone tried to reach me via direct messages, they would have some clue about why I wasn’t responding. My Instagram update read as follows:

I’ve scheduled a 2 week break from my social media channels beginning Sunday, 11/12.

I recently read a helpful book on smartphones and this quote is one of my favorites:
“The beauty of Christ calms us and roots our deepest longings in eternal hopes that are far beyond what our smartphones can ever hope to deliver.”

I want to spend extra time gazing on Christ’s beauty & seeking to reflect His character in my heart and life. ❤️
// quote via 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You //”

Before I deleted my Instagram app, I gave a good fake cry to my husband. I mean, there weren’t actual tears; I just pretended to cry about it. But I was legit sad about it. This is going to be a long two weeks.

 

DAY ONE: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12

Upon waking, I reached for my phone to silence my alarm. My habit is to not check social media before reading my Bible. BUT knowing that I couldn’t check it made me want to do it even more than usual. Rebel at heart.

I read my Bible and was incredibly challenged by a passage in Hebrews 3. My immediate thought was to share it on Instagram. But wait, I can’t do that for another two weeks. Argh.

In church this morning, we sang these words:

“I now am reconciled! His pardoning voice I hear,
He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And Father, Abba, Father cry!”

Rich text! Such a deep blessing, I thought I would share it on facebook. But nope, can’t do that for two weeks. What am I supposed to do? Talk to an actual person about these blessings?? #AWKWARD Also, why take sermon notes if you can’t share them online? These and other life questions…

In the afternoon, I shared the blessings/convictions from my morning with my husband. I also spent an hour writing because I couldn’t keep all these thoughts in my head and there was no social media on which to share them.

 

 

DAY TWO: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 13

Today, I published a post on holiness & authenticity on my blog. Many of you have told me that the way you find about new posts is via Facebook, so I normally share it via social media and then monitor comments, likes, and shares. I was able to share the post from my site (without actually going on Facebook), but couldn’t see any responses. THIS WAS SO HARD FOR ME. And incredibly good at the same time. It was hard because I always judge my writing by people’s responses. So if there isn’t much of a reaction, my head says things like, “Terrible job, Christa. You’re a horrid writer and are doing everything wrong.” I’m always very encouraging to myself.

I met with a friend today and shared what I had been reading from my devotions. I couldn’t share it on social media and wanted to share it with someone else. Good talk.

 

 

DAY THREE: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14

I’ve noticed something disturbing about myself. Ever since I stopped using social media, I’ve been obsessively checking my email. Like, there’s no need to check my email 20 times in one day. Perhaps I’m not just addicted to social media, but addicted to distractions?

Yeah. I told you it was disturbing.

 

 

DAY FOUR: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15

I read a few verses this morning that just blessed my socks off. Normally, I’d share it on social media. Instead, I told Jonathan and texted a few friends some thoughts.

I’m trying to resist the urge to check email so often. I’m still in the OCD camp about it.

I received two “in real life” comments about my recently published blog post. Okay, so at least I know it actually published and was a blessing to two people. (Yes, those two people were my husband and Mom.) I wonder how it would affect my writing if I never saw people’s responses?

 

 

DAY FIVE: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 16

Today was a very busy day composed of homeschooling, extra church events, hosting company, and writing deadlines. I am incredibly grateful that I couldn’t check social media (per my regulations) because I know I would have wasted time on it otherwise.

 

 

DAY SIX: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17

This is the first day I had this thought:
I don’t think I’ve missed anything of true importance in the last 6 days of being off social media. Now, clearly that’s easy for me to say because at this point I haven’t even seen anything I’ve missed. So maybe I don’t know what I’m missing? But great day – one would have thought I was solving all the world’s problems from the time and energy I used to (as in, 7 days ago) invest in social media.

 

 

DAY SEVEN: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18

I’ve discovered I often reach for my phone even if there’s not anything I need to do on it. I don’t want to get in the habit of laying off social media, but filling the void with something else pointless or dangerous. I want to use my time wisely and for God’s glory. I’ve started praying that God would reveal to me what my heart is truly craving amidst all my distraction-seeking and help me to pursue Christ instead.

 

 

DAY EIGHT: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19

For the past few days, I’ve been mulling over what guidelines I should put into place after these two weeks have ended. Should I use social media at all? If so, how much? This afternoon, I sat down and wrote out a few guidelines:

  • One time on social media per day
  • 15 minutes max overall (facebook, Instagram, twitter)
  • No social media use on Sunday (maybe extend to the entire weekend?)

My plan is to take two weeks to follow these guidelines and then re-evaluate my heart and habits.

I texted a couple pictures of my kids to some friends who normally look on facebook for regular updates. I like the one-on-one interaction this gives me with others, versus simply posting it on social media and all the comments being public.

 

 

DAY NINE: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20

Today, I published a post entitled Bible Study: Discipline or Delight? I’m surprised and unashamedly pleased with the easier time I’m having at not knowing anyone’s reaction. Maybe people hate it and are calling me terrible things on social media while simultaneously putting hexes on my name. Or maybe they love it and are going to nominate me as the honorary president of their knitting club.
Either extreme and I haven’t a clue. In some cases, ignorance is indeed bliss.

 

 

DAY TEN: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21

I mostly forgot about my new post today – you know, the post I published yesterday. I see this as a great improvement from last week when I was obsessively and inordinately checking statistics to try to gauge the response. Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that. No, I don’t want to become obsessive again after this challenge is complete. I think the guidelines I created a couple days ago will help me as I consider my future social media use. I especially think having one day off a week will help as I’ll have a scheduled time to sit back and not consume or produce on social media channels. A brain break, I’ll call it.

 

 

DAY ELEVEN: WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22

Today I realized that Facebook must send out emails to people who suddenly stop visiting their site. Apparently, I set mine to be automatically deleted, so I only discovered all the emails today when I was searching for a guacamole coupon in my trash pile. Lo and behold, I never found the guac coupon, but I did find a host of Facebook emails about people mentioning me in updates or tagging me in photos. Believe me, it was difficult to resist clicking on the blue “Read More” button. Resist I did. But 99% of me says the only reason I resisted it is because I told you I would. Ah, the old honor badge bites again.

 

 

DAY TWELVE: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 23

Happy Thanksgiving! Today, my husband showed me a picture from his Facebook feed. Does that count as cheating? I’m saying no, it doesn’t count as cheating because I didn’t spend time scrolling. Before he showed his phone to me, he said, “I know you’re not on Facebook, but I thought you’d want to see this.” After I nervously asked if it was good news and he confirmed it was, he turned his phone around to reveal a pregnancy announcement from some of our friends. Since I couldn’t comment, I texted my congrats instead. If I had been on facebook, I’m pretty sure I would have commented on the picture and not thought to text. I’m incredibly glad I did text, though, because it gave me the opportunity to hear more details from my friend regarding her special news.

 

 

DAY THIRTEEN: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24

My sister and her family came over today for brunch. Normally, I might have taken and posted a picture of the gathering. As it was, Jonathan took a picture instead. Since I’m not on facebook currently, I have no idea if he posted it and I’m too shy to ask. I’M KIDDING; I’m not shy to ask. I just didn’t care if he posted it or not, so I didn’t think to ask him until this very moment.

I’ve definitely been more present with those around me over the past days without social media. And I love that a lot. No taking time to write a status or edit a picture. And I’ve discovered it’s kinda funny to be around someone else when they’re composing something for social media. Like, there you are sitting or standing next to someone, but they’re more interested in sharing something with people they can’t see than in talking with you. Hmmm. Pretty sure I’ve done that a ton.

 

 

DAY FOURTEEN: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25

Today, Jonathan and I had a great talk about social media…how we look to it for distraction and amusement, how it can be used for good and evil, and how to use it as a tool to encourage others. We talked about how a simple moment from our day can be shared either with a grateful, godly spirit or with a complaining, “my life is terrible” attitude.

 

 

DAY FIFTEEN: SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 26

Today could be my first day back on social media as last night was the completion of two weeks. But the guidelines I created for the next 2 weeks list Sunday as an “off” day, and I didn’t want to cheat on that right out of the gate. Besides, there’s a part of me that has rather enjoyed this break, despite the initial difficulties.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I began writing down my final thoughts, but the length of this two-week journal post is rather unwieldy as it is. Thus, I’ll process and compile final thoughts as to this experiment and publish them later this week.

 

If you have any questions regarding this post or the entire experiment,
drop it in the comments or shoot me an email and I’ll address what I can.

 

 

Is Bible Study a Discipline or Delight?

“Bible study is not a discipline; it’s a delight.”

A while ago, I came across a social media post with the above caption and it made me think: Is Bible study a discipline or a delight?
Maybe you, like me, have been admonished not to read your Bible out of a sense of discipline or duty, but to take delight in God’s Word. Sometimes it’s possible to hear something like that and become needlessly discouraged.

And so I ask myself this question:

Must we dichotomize discipline and delight in regards to Bible study?
Do we have to say either Bible study is a discipline OR it’s a delight?
Can it be both a discipline and a delight?

Merriam-Webster says that a definition of discipline is as follows: “train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.”

Is my Bible study a discipline?
Yes! I want my study of God’s Word to be a daily discipline. And hey, I’ll take it a step further to say it should be a daily discipline.

Is my Bible study a delight?
Sometimes it is. Sometimes I read God’s Word and am thrilled with the promises I read about God’s presence and His covenant with me because of Jesus.
Sometimes I read and am confused about a passage.
Sometimes I read, struggle, and disagree with the way God has responded to His people. I remember reading through Joshua, coming to the destruction of Achan’s family, and struggling for several days with God’s response.

Does my struggle with God and His Word mean that I’m unspiritual and imperfect? (Gasp! Shock!)
Of course, it does. After all, if I were perfect then I wouldn’t ever struggle with anything.
My struggle also means I’m human.

Here’s the kicker, though. You know what I do when I struggle with God’s Word – whether it’s to believe a comforting promise, obey a difficult command, or trust His unchanging character? I go to Him. I pray. I tell Him about my unbelief. I ask Him to clear things up in my heart and mind. In short, the struggle draws me closer to God.

What is the end result of Bible study?
Not just to learn your Bible, but to draw near to God as you study His Word.

So on the days when Bible study feels like more of a discipline than a pure delight, keep coming to God and His Word. Ask Him to give you delight in the very discipline.

Is Bible study a discipline or a delight?
Yes. Yes, it’s both. And I want to thank God for that.

 

 

Looking for practical encouragement from other women who are actively studying God’s Word?
Check out the Dwelling Richly interviews! My favorite series on this site!

 

 

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Sacrificing Holiness for Authenticity

sacrificing holiness for authenticity

It was Saturday morning. Driving home from an early morning run, I stopped by a yard sale and snagged the classic game of Battleship for the low, low price of $1. I had fond memories of playing this game in elementary school and looked forward to wowing my family with my incredible skills.

Only that’s not quite what happened.

After Jonathan taught our oldest how to play, we suggested she watch Dad and Mom duke it out so she could really get the hang of the game. With great excitement, I set my battleships up and prepared to dominate my unassuming spouse.

But no. Instead, my husband had the greatest guesses in world history and won the game with only 3 wrong guesses. At first, I thought he was cheating. He had to be cheating! But he wasn’t; it was just a maddening game composed mostly of chance. By the end of the game, I was upset. I had only sunk 2 of his ships while he sunk all 5 of mine. This was a dumb game and I had no idea why I ever thought it was a good idea to purchase it.

My sinful attitude of being a poor sport (AKA pride and not knowing how to admit loss) was on full display for my 7-year-old, a fact of which I was well aware. In fact, I told her, “See honey, this is what it looks like to be a bad sport.” I even thought, “This is a really good thing for her to see Mommy act this way because then she knows I struggle to be a good sport too.”

Fast forward to bedtime.

We were talking about the day as I tucked her in and she mentioned, “Mommy, it’s kind of like two members of the family struggle with anger – you and me.” I started talking to her about the importance of confessing her sin to God, then suddenly realized I had never confessed my sin of anger from that morning.

I was so consumed with being authentic in front of my daughter that I forgot about holiness.

As I sat on her bed, I confessed to her as well. “Honey, Mommy was wrong this morning when I got angry about losing that game. And I just realized I never even asked God to forgive me. Do you want to pray with me now?” We prayed together and I kissed her goodnight.

But as I walked away, I kept thinking about how blinded I had been to think that I was doing my daughter a favor in letting her observe my sinful reaction. On the contrary, the greatest favor I can do for my children is to help them view life (including themselves, God, the world, and sin) in the same way God views it.

The fact is that during my time of “being a bad sport,” I was not viewing sin as God views it. Instead, I saw it as making a bad choice. Getting upset. Losing my temper. I wasn’t viewing it as what it truly was: an offense against a holy God that required nothing less than the sacrifice of Jesus in order for me to obtain forgiveness.

So, here’s the question:

Do I have to choose between holiness and authenticity?

Do I either seek to live a holy life and obey God’s command to “be holy as I am holy” or just be myself?

Is it either be real or be holy?

Can I only choose one or the other?

For heaven’s sake, no.

Authenticity is being true to who you really are. So if who you are is a child of God, then the trajectory of your life is pointing towards complete holiness when Jesus Christ returns. That means that right now your life should be trending towards holiness. Dying to yourself; living for God. More like Jesus; less like sin. Captured by Christ more than your desires.

But dying to ourselves doesn’t feel natural or authentic, does it? I mean, just think about that statement for a second and it’s obvious. Put myself to death? Pretty sure that’s the opposite of “natural.”

I think Paul and God sum it up pretty amazingly in Romans 7: “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. […] when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.”

Many times, when I seek to live a holy life, I can feel the angst in my soul as I die to myself instead of lashing out in anger. I want my own way. I want to hurt someone with my words and actions. These facts point to the underlying truth that I have a sinful nature.

Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Living a holy life is entering a war zone. There is victory promised through Christ. But you’re on the battlefield fighting yourself. Even though it does not feel natural or authentic to fight yourself and live a holy life, it’s the right choice because God says to strive for holiness: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

We can live holy, authentic lives for God’s glory.

So let’s strive to live holy lives as the people of Christ. Not in a fake way, but authentically. Not in an “I used to sin, but I don’t do it anymore” sort of spirit, but with humility and the spirit of gentleness. (See Ephesians 4.) Living a holy life is not pretending we have zero sin problems and responding in shock when others confess their sin to us: “Oh! You think/do that? I would never even think of doing such a terrible thing!”

Authentic holiness is living out the truth of the Gospel. It is saying with Paul, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
I’m a wretched sinner; Jesus is a wonderful Savior. Because of those two things, we can and must seek to live both holy and authentic lives in order to glorify this Jesus who has given us life.

 

 

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Take Time to Build

This past weekend, my sisters and I took time to build our relationship with God and each other. It was refreshing, instructive, encouraging, hilarious, and convicting: all in less than two days.

Before my sister, Sarah returned from the Philippines, we talked about attending a conference together. But as we looked at the conferences available during the months she would be in the States, we had a different idea: What if we planned our own conference? We could get an Airbnb rental, do our own cooking, and take advantage of the plethora of free resources available on TGC’s site. (I contributed the idea of having snacks, just like a real conference. I’m always a great idea harvester, ya know?) We narrowed down the options of what we could study and decided to watch 7 sessions on the book of Nehemiah, presented in 2014. (See all the sessions here.)

Should I call it The Sister Retreat? Or maybe a Do-It-Yourself Conference? (sidenote: no crafts were attempted during this getaway. except for the craft of food creation.)

Maybe I’ll ignore the naming part and just show pictures of what we did. First of all, meet my sisters, Becky & Sarah:

Of course, you can’t see us very well because of our large sunglasses. We try to keep our identity hidden when we’re out of doors. This picture was taken during our $10 paddleboat experience which turned out to be simultaneously beautiful and a bit sweaty.

But the majority of our time was spent right here at this little table:

We like to call this Breakfast with Kathy Keller. We didn’t share any pancakes with her, but she shared the Word with us while we ate some delicious pumpkin pancakes prepared by Becky.

During session #2, I sent the following picture to my husband and he commented that Tim Keller looked like he was smelling our bacon:

I can’t blame him. It smelled delish.

After one more session, we made some amazing sandwiches (using farm fresh eggs our hosts gave us), headed out for paddle-boating, then finished the night with 2 more sessions.

On Saturday morning, we ate breakfast while watching the last two sessions, then packed up for home. Of course, we stopped at some cute little shops on the way home (including a delicious Indian restaurant), but then we sped back home to kiss our husbands and babies.

 

I debated about sharing this event with you. But the reason I’m sharing it is to encourage you with this:

You can take time to build your relationship with God, His Word, and others.

Maybe it means you’ll get up earlier or stay up later to read God’s Word.
Maybe it means you’ll pause scrolling social media to pray for and text that friend who just shared a burden.
Maybe it means you’ll snag some free resources online (so many quality, Biblical options here… especially Teaching Our Children About Jesus and Intro to Biblical Theology) and take an afternoon to apply them to your heart.
Maybe you’ll attend a conference or create your own like we did.

But whatever you do, let me encourage you to take time to do something (no matter how small it seems!) to further your relationship with the only things that will last forever — God, His Word, and people.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
James 4:8

 

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