I have a social media problem. It is one of the first things I check each morning. While riding in the car or waiting in line, I mindlessly scroll through others’ photos. I do not think social media is bad. However, as I have noticed some of my addictive tendencies toward it, I have taken a couple breaks from social media altogether.
Three Lessons Learned (Pin ‘em!)
Here are some lessons I learned from disconnecting:
1. I have more time and energy for other things. I do not realize how much time and focus I put on social media until I give it up. I suddenly find more room in my day to read, exercise, call people, and do other activities that I sometimes feel are difficult to squeeze into my schedule. I am also much more present in those activities when I am not thinking about how to take a perfectly filtered photo or tell everyone about it in 140 characters.
2. I do not miss it that much. I am not saying I’m never temped to log in or that I never give into temptations, but overall, I am pretty content without it. So why do I spend so much time on it in the first place? Often I am only on it because it is there, not because I have a specific purpose or am connecting with someone personally.
3. Giving up social media does not make me a more spiritual person. I think I was expecting to instantly become holier without social media. I quickly discovered this was not true when I was refraining from it and felt the urge to log in. I texted a friend who was keeping me accountable. She replied, “You should pray.” Why didn’t I think of that? Because at the end of the day, the reason I don’t go to God is not only because of outside distractions but because deep down I don’t really want to.
I also realized that social media is ultimately not to blame for me comparing myself to others in pride or jealousy. That would still be in my heart even if I flushed all my technology down the toilet. After all, Jesus did not call out the Pharisees because they looked spiritually dead on the outside, but because inwardly, their hearts were hardened to God.
This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me…For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.
(Matthew 15:8, 19-20a)
Updating My Status
Does that mean I am hopeless? No, not at all. Because of Jesus, I do not have to perform in order to become holy. Rather, He makes me holy. Even when I fall into sin, whether while on social media or not, I can go to Jesus for complete forgiveness and restoration. My sin does not define my status with God; Jesus does.
Likewise, instead of trying to change my own heart, I can ask the Holy Spirit to change me - to make me desire Him, to help me to use my time well, and to make me confident in my identity in Christ rather than measuring myself against others. Yes, I am still responsible to take practical steps of obedience and to resist temptation (James 4:7, 2 Timothy 2:22), but I need Him to refine me from the inside.
God used my social media “fast” to remind me that while He asks me to change some outward practices, He has never wanted just behavior modification. He has always wanted my heart.