The Life I Discovered Inside Of 13 Days Without Social Media
Editor’s Note: I find it appropriate, after taking a month long sabbatical this September, to begin again with these words by Hannah Katy. They punched me in the face. September was beautiful for me. I rested much, learned much, and shifted pieces of my perspective back into place – and Hannah’s words here on taking a 2 week social media fast align with much of it. Hannah blogs at hannahkaty.com and tweets at @hannahbrencher. – Lauren
There had been a retweet.
Somewhere around 3am there had been a retweet. A few stray followers. Two emails to prove there were still night owls in my inbox. A single, solitary friend request. Half a dozen hearts on Instagram for a cup of coffee and fresh nails I’d painted yesterday.
This is what I’d normally find in the morning– sleep still in my eyes as the glow of the screen takes me network to network, collecting the communications I’d missed over night.
Stale. Two-dimensional. But sacred to me.
The fast began 13 days ago.
It’s been 13 long and hard tweet-less, like-less, instragram-less days.
A social media fast. The first of its kind for me.
Before this, I’d pent up fasting with the Bible definition and reserved it for pockets of days spent without calories. But to fast is to seek God with an obedience. To insert prayers unceasing where there would have been food or that object that causes you to hunger for more. Now I’m praying as constantly as I would have been checking my social networks. And though Peter and Paul never pulled off from the streams I think God would have found the same barrier in getting to them if they’d been tweeting while Jesus was preaching with swooping hands from atop the mount.
Conviction set in thirteen days ago. The start of the fast. As if Conviction had met Overwhelmed at the middle school dance and they chatted for hours by the punch bowl and decided they never wanted to leave one another.
I’ve chipped away at God’s power in my life with my social streams. It is my way of rebelling, of saying, “What you ask of me is too hard–I’ll turn to photos of faces I don’t see any longer to envelope me… distract me from the things you really want of me.”
“I’ll turn to 1,500 followers (maybe the mass grew heavier over night), I’ll post a photo at 10pm and be witty with 140 characters right before bed so that I can wake up “Like”d in the morning and with even more “friends” who won’t ask me hard questions. Won’t challenge me. Won’t mold me but will admire for all the fragments of a lens I’ve given them into a life where my hair is always perfect. And always, I am laughing. And always, I look skinny in sepia-stained lighting.”
My body – unrest. My thoughts – ungodly. My spirit – unfed. Me – in a steady, steady habit of checking my email before bed. 3am. 6am.
My day sculpted already by the responses I must give to people, the photo albums I’ve devoured, the outfits I’ve seen pinned and the people I must call.
Found and digested, all before God could even lift up His mighty hands and say, “Child, when shall I gear you for the work ahead? When will you realize the world will never feed you?”
It’s idolatry and I’ve never known it. To make myself a demigod. A person worth following. And if my streams, my Instagrammed actions, my blog holds no trace of the God who rains in my soul then who am I? Who am I and what kind of disciple have I been for you?
Thirteen days in and it’s coffee dripping on the stove beside me as I stretch and wait to add a packet of sugar. The longer it takes, the better before I find a spot, tuck my knees beneath me and eye the Bible in my lap.
I’m here God. It’s painful but I’m here. And this isn’t my day, it’s yours. You made it so plant in me what you need me to do for you today.
It is the hardest prayer I’ve had to pray. It’s gritty and gravelly and uncomfortable. And it has taken days of saying it to make me feel like it’s semi-habit to let God in and take over all the drivers’ seats before I let my soul be touched by hundreds of fingerprints across half a dozen social streams.
I’m listening more. I’m heeding more. I’m not picking up the phone–straight in the middle of the messages He has strung for me– to snap pictures of verses and send them wafting into the ether for others to cheer me on and like me and call me “holy.”
I’m using the Bible. In a way I’ve never had to before. To scour out and find my identity as a Child of Christ. To know, for certain, what I have in His Kingdom. To see me — without makeup, power and likes– the way He saw me yesterday… today… tomorrow.
Because suddenly, to find self worth in blog stats and comments is no longer an option.
Whatever I am carving out for worth is raw… coming from one mouth. And I find it whispers to me constantly, when my ears are finally perked to listen: You are my daughter. My gem. My rose. Find worth in that, Little One. Find Worth.
And I’m learning all the curves and craters and sacred spots of this life that God was paved for me. The sky as she preps like a night maid for the thunder, fluffing pillows of hushed greys with sheets of violent yellow. A heat storm and a new notebook. Bare feet. Wine and Oreos. Christmas lights glowing in the center of August.
All the parts of life and living – my first thought no longer to smash them all into a status update for others to virtually digest.
My first thought is to savor. Save the moment for me. Given. To me.
By one who loves me and is too jealous to share my attention.
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