Hello, friends!! It’s been a little while, but I promise I have a good reason.
After completing the 40-day sugar fast earlier this year and having such a great experience, I knew I didn’t want my improved discipline and stronger desire to spend time with God to end! So I did the most logical thing: I kept fasting. And this time, it was from social media. Keep reading to see how those 40 days went…
Day 1: Okay, so here’s what I’ve given up: Facebook and FB Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, and 95% of Pinterest. (I can still use recipes I’ve already pinned, but I’m not mindlessly scrolling.) Today, on my first day of the fast, I conducted an experiment. I wanted to test myself, just to see how many times I would normally check those apps, particularly Facebook and Instagram. I kept tally marks for every time I caught myself looking at my phone for that reason, and guess how many times I did it in one day? 24 TIMES. I didn’t even have a good reason! 99% of the time, it was a combination of muscle memory and boredom. I’ve conditioned myself to open those apps every time I’m waiting for something, like the elevator or standing in the grocery check-out line. Truthfully, I think that number was smaller than it should have been, because I wasn’t picking up my phone as much since I knew I couldn’t open those apps. Regardless, even if I only spent 5 minutes in those apps each time I wanted to open them, that adds up to a minimum of TWO HOURS spent on social media per day. Ouch.
Day 2: The chapter of the book I’m reading during this fast said the following today: “The temptation to take your eyes off of Christ and His buoying Word will be constant. Loneliness may even threaten to capsize you, but what a joy it will be to step out of your boat and follow Him in this countercultural, faith-building, water-walking way!” I’ve already realized something about our use of social media as humans. We medicate and distract ourselves with social media because it’s NUMBING. With all those other voices in our heads, we aren’t forced to confront the silence and deal with our own deeply buried issues.
Day 5: Ugh………well. I did something. Initially, I didn’t give up watching TV by myself because I rationalized it as ‘not social media.’ But after four days of feeling convicted, I finally listened to God’s prompting and surrendered that habit for the remainder of my fast. I am not excited. But I am doing it.
Day 7: It struck me today how perfectly my word of the year – SAVOR – fits with this season of fasting. This fast in particular presented itself at an opportune time, what with Daniel being in school and me feeling a pull to quiet the noise in my heart. There have already been multiple sweet, tiny moments I would have missed out on if I had been on my phone like I normally am, like reading with my cat Chess sleeping on me, having good conversations with Daniel in the car, and talking with friends more.
Day 9: All I can say is WOW. I had the most pure God moment in my car on my way home from the gym. I have already started a separate blog post about this experience, but all I can say for now is that I have never felt so so seen by the Lord. I wished I could physically hug Him. I have noticed my desire to spend time with God is so much stronger, and it’s no coincidence that this change happened at the same time I put down all the noise and started picking up His Word more often.
Day 11: I was sitting in the living room, prepping for Cory’s proposal to Victoria, getting the flower petals ready and listening to instrumental music, and a slow, tender, nostalgic song started playing. Before it was even halfway through, I knew I had to make sure that song was playing when they walked in the door. I was suddenly filled with emotion over how special that moment would be, and how prepping for it wouldn’t have been the same if I was watching TV instead of listening to music. And that moment WAS so special. I got the honor of capturing the whole thing on video. However, after the ring was on the finger and the champagne was poured, I had the strangest thought: “I won’t be able to ‘like’ their social media posts…!” But immediately after thinking that, I had a second thought: “Why do I care?? Why should I be sad? I was there! I literally watched it happen. Who cares that I can’t see it on a social media platform!”
Day 15: Today, I asked myself, “What am I actually using social media for?” Is it really about connection? Or is it because I want to create a certain perception about myself? What a gift it is to realize that (1) I don’t owe anybody anything on social media, and (2) I don’t need to be reachable via social media all the time. While some messages are time-sensitive, most of them aren’t. And I would much rather spend time connecting with people in person than in a virtual world.
Day 18: I miss TV. I reeeeeeally miss TV. I miss it more than social media. This is why God wanted me to give it up. *sigh*
Day 21: I had to pray a lot today. This day was already set aside for fasting and praying over a friend, but I had to pray for myself at least 50% of the time. I prayed that God would help me want to want to obey Him, because today, I really don’t. I want to do whatever I want and not have to pay the consequences. Even though I’ve given up social media and watching TV alone, I’m not being disciplined in other ways….(It’s food. Why is it always food??). And I know God is after my whole heart, not just one area of weakness at a time. The goal was not to surrender one idol and immediately replace it with something else. This is just a “HARUMPHHH” of a day.
Day 23: Matthew 5:29-30 convicted me. I’ve always read this verse in relation to sin and bad things that were always bad to begin with, but the truth is even good things can become bad if we misuse them. It’s better to completely cut something off/out rather than to indulge it and let it consume you. We are fools to think we can control ourselves without God’s help. If something tempts us even a little bit, maybe it’s better to just stay away from it completely.
Day 29: Meh….I’m kind of over this. I’m doing fine without social media, but I still really miss TV and games on my phone. (Oh yeah – I gave those up too.) I’m not getting as much out of this fast as I did the sugar fast. At least that’s how I feel today. Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow.
Day 33: Daniel left for Boston today and I REALLY want to watch TV. I’m thinking about breaking that part of my fast early. This is going to be a long week.
Day 39: I absolutely SHOCKED myself this week. Every day, I woke up and thought, “I didn’t watch TV yesterday. And I’m fine. I could do that again today.” And I have!! I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts instead and stuck to my original conviction to give up binge-watching TV alone. This week has been long and busy. I can’t wait to see Daniel tomorrow!!
Day 40: I SURVIVED!!! Since I opened my first social media account in 2006, I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve ever gone without opening any of those apps. I’m really proud of myself.
Day 41: It’s the craziest thing – I’m allowed to get on social media now but I honestly don’t really want to. I spent about 30-45 minutes going through all of my missed notifications on Facebook, Instagram, etc., and at the end of that time, I didn’t feel happier. I felt scattered and overstimulated. I watched some funny videos and saw some life updates from friends, but as I scrolled, I thought, “How did I spend hours doing this before?? I’ve only been here for 20 minutes and I’m already tired of it all.” The more I think through the last 40 days, I realize that I learned more than I thought I did. I didn’t really miss social media. And I felt convicted about how much time I devote to noise: things that are empty and a waste of time.
Biggest lessons learned:
- WHY was I posting? WHY was I scrolling so much? Before I started the fast, I don’t think I would have said, “I’m trying to fill a void”….but I’m pretty sure that’s what I was doing.
- I realized during the fast that I was less distracted when I read God’s Word. I didn’t know how cluttered my mind was before, and it’s no wonder I had such a hard time paying attention to what I was reading. Now, I’m not mentally ‘full’ from consuming social media and TV all day, so when I open God’s Word, I’m ready to read and listen and process. Consuming that is so much better than the other things I was consuming. My desire for the Word is stronger than ever. I changed my pattern and made my Bible app the first one I open in the morning instead of Facebook and Instagram. Keeping my social media apps off of my home screen and turning the notifications off, even though I didn’t have many turned on to begin with, was also a gamechanger.
- In one of her chapters, Wendy said, “We’ve all turned to things to quench the ache and kill the pain, to tell us we’re worthy, or to meet some other deep need. Except they never do, which is why we keep cramming more in. We’re always hungry but never satisfied.” I wish I had the words to describe to you how fulfilling a relationship with God is. Nothing and no one else satisfies like He does.
- Want me to get really personal? You totally do. I know you do. I’ll tell you what I have made god instead of God. I’ll confess my own little-g gods to you, and I encourage you to consider what yours are so you can surrender them to the Big G, the OG, the God of Gods and King of Kings, the only true God who loves us at our worst and sacrificed everything to make us part of His family. Ready?
- Social media.
- A drink.
- Filling the silence.
- Attention and verbal affirmation from others.
- Games on my phone.
- Eating out.
- Trying desperately to be perfect and worthy of respect.
GOD. IS. BETTER. We are wasting too much time trying to make ourselves happy with other things. They won’t work. God is who we’ve been looking for all this time. Let’s chase after Him from now on, yeah? ♥
If you want to know more about the 40-day social media fast, click here.