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8 Surprising Things I Learned During 6 Weeks Off Social Media

We were at the brink of big changes.

My husband asked to go into the field with his job, which meant he wouldn’t be sitting behind a desk in Birmingham each day, at home by 6 pm. It meant he would be 400 miles away in Little Rock working on the job site, doing the parts of the job that he really loved, with once-per-month visits home.

We made the plunge to homeschool our two boys for 3rd grade and kindergarten, a decision we’d been praying about for over a year.

It was one big, giant adventure looming just at the horizon of our lives, and I was excited that my husband was given this opportunity.

That’s when I stopped sleeping.

I would watch the clock as it blinked the minutes by, thinking things like: Kris needs to teach me how to use the edger so I can keep up the yard well. I need to get a car charger for my phone so that GPS can lead us all the way to Little Rock without dying. Should we stay with him a few days, or a whole week? I should start making a packing list. How will the boys handle their father being gone? Will video chats be enough?

My feelings were so strange about the whole thing … I was looking forward to meeting the challenge. I was determined to step up and show how tough I am. I wouldn’t drag my husband down. I was grateful for the chance to grow in our family, in our marriage, and in our parenthood. So why was I already missing my husband? He hadn’t even left yet.

A few days before leaving day, I had dinner with a few mom friends. We talked about the typical range of topics for women excited to be in each other’s company. A discussion that was particularly intriguing was the weight that social media can sometimes add to a woman’s “mental load”. I instantly related to this, and asked what they do to relieve the burden that we all seem to be obligated to, or trapped in. When one friend mentioned a social media fast, I knew I had to try it.

“I know three weeks sounds like a long time to avoid social media, because nowadays that’s the only way many people communicate,” she said with bright, encouraging eyes. “but give yourself no less than three weeks. I promise it will change the way you look at social media, and you won’t be the same, in a good way.”

That night, I deactivated all of my social media accounts (without explanation or announcing my impending online absence), and deleted the apps.

For the first two days, I found myself habitually reaching for my phone when I had a few extra minutes of silence. “Oh, right,” I would say to myself with a generous eye roll. “No social media.” I thought I would need to use intentional restraint, like when I spot the chocolate in the back of the pantry when I’m avoiding sugar, and I have to clench my jaw and walk away (with agony).

After those first two days, I didn’t think twice about it.

This surprised me.

The other surprise was exactly how much of a relief it was to be away from it. I didn’t feel obligated to keep up with the people whose lives I only witnessed through my phone screen. I kept up via text and phone calls with my closest friends, but otherwise, I didn’t miss a thing.

Did you catch that?

I didn’t. Miss. A thing.

A few days ago, I decided I should probably check my progress, to see if I’d met the 3-week deadline as my friend had suggested.

The “fast” had actually reached the 6 week mark.

Let me drive this point home … I DIDN’T MISS A THING.

I decided to make a list of the shifts and changes that had occurred in the absence of social media.

  1. I wrote in my journal more.
    Oh, how I had missed writing in my journal. I even grabbed a new, fresh diary off my shelf and thoroughly enjoyed penning the first page. Without writing posts, I suddenly had a desire to keep my thoughts private. I’d also forgotten what a beautiful ceremony journal-writing can be… a kind of meditation that relaxes and is distinctly anti-anxiety.
  2. Holding onto my thoughts deepened them.
    While filling pages up with handwritten words, I wondered how often those words would have become splashed into a status bar instead of inked onto a piece of paper. I realized that I spoke very differently into my journals than I did into the realm of social media. The words came out seasoned with more wisdom than they would have been on Facebook or Instagram.
  3. I wrote more, in general.
    Instead of spewing words into social platforms, I invested them into other things. I wrote paragraphs of internalized thought threads that didn’t seem to serve any real purpose at all, until a few hours/days later. Suddenly those thought threads became untangled, and my mind was filled with calming conclusions rather than anxious wonderings.
  4. I searched the Bible for answers more often.
    I realized how frequently I turned to the advice of others before I sought out the Scripture. It made me feel ashamed, and I realized how much my social media use had turned into an idol in my life.
  5. I spent more time with my kids.
    Okay, this may sound ludicrous, but I legitimately spent more time with my children than I did before. Part of that was because we were bored in a hotel room, and we were also homeschooling. But when I felt boredom set in, I didn’t pick up my phone to scroll through news feeds. I pulled out board games or a deck of cards. And if board games weren’t available, we made up our own games. I think it’s a good idea to point out that my social media time before was NOT excessive to the point that I neglected my children in favor of Facebook. The absence of social media DID, however, force the formation of new habits, especially when I felt bored or restless. And those new habits led to many rounds of Uno with two enthusiastic little boys.
  6. The pettiness was gone.
    Let’s be real here … social media brings out the pettiness in us all. I was relieved to have it purged, from both myself and others.
  7. I read more books.
    I read so many books, y’all. SO MANY BOOKS. It was a delicious pastime that had me gobbling up every delectable morsel I could get my hands on. We rented so many books from the library, I almost felt the need to apologize. Almost.
  8. I watched more people.
    Okay, let me explain before this sounds really creepy … people-watching is fascinating. While in public, I didn’t take endless pictures of my kids and post them. I took a few photos to capture the moment, then immediately put my phone away because I was relieved of the pressure to show them to people via social media. Because I didn’t pull up my social apps and post the photos, I spent more time watching the people around me. I won’t spoil the fun for you by describing the entertainment of people-watching … just put your phone away and try it. You won’t regret it.

I’ve now activated my social media accounts, but I am determined to use it at arm’s length. I’ve been freed from the spell, and the freedom feels amazing.

When the Past is Full of Failure, the Present is Confusing, and the Future is Terrifying

“Bring them to me, Lord,” I prayed in a sanctuary full of church family. I was still sitting with my head bowed while everyone else stood and sang along to the music. “Lord, use my writing as a way to bring souls my way so that I can tell them about you….”

My prayer evaporated. Tears stung my eyes as my words to God halted. I couldn’t go any further.

Because I knew I was lying to Him. Continue reading “When the Past is Full of Failure, the Present is Confusing, and the Future is Terrifying”

The Most Entertaining Thing at the McWane Center

Thanks to my mother-in-law, the boys and I are able to enjoy an endless number of trips to the fascinating McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham. We’ve experienced so much exploring, learning, discovering and laughing there.

We spent a couple of exciting hours yesterday afternoon at McWane. But just before leaving, we made one last stop.

I’m not even sure what this object is called, but it was the most hysterical part of our day.

Don’t Miss Them

In an instant, they’re gone.

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Photo by David Schap

So many of them happen unnoticed, disguised as mundane spaces between the exciting moments that become legends.

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Photo by Caleb Jones

It’s in the first cool drops of a spring rain.

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Photo by Geetanjal Khanna

It’s in the earthy scent of rich, black soil.

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Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin

It’s in the giggles of a happy child…

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Photo by Tina Floersch

… and in the cries of an infant at midnight.

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Photo by Jordan Whitt

It’s in the rays of a bright sun, warming the skin and lifting the spirits.

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Photo by Ben White

It’s Life.

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Photo by Ian Baldwin

Life in all its mundane glory.

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Photo by Asaf R

God’s Love and Twizzlers

church

Photo by Astrid Westvang

There are a million reasons why I love my church. I experience God in this place in such a rich way, I walk away week after week challenged, convicted, encouraged, humbled, and empowered. Our pastor, Ryan Whitley, and song leader, Bryan Haskins, are the face of CrossPoint, displaying passion and enthusiasm for Christ that, in my opinion, is an incredible example of unrelenting faith and love.

But an exchange today is such a perfect example of how the family of CrossPoint works.

Continue reading “God’s Love and Twizzlers”

The Early Bird Gets the Word

I have found The Way.

Writing is a very, VERY hard dream to chase, especially in the midst of life.

Ideally, time would pause long enough to allow some rest, let my imagination wander, and pound out an impressive word count without being absent from my family.

But let’s be real. Time is elusive. Continue reading “The Early Bird Gets the Word”

Evidence

The other night I rounded the corner to find this:

Evidence that there is a naked boy running around my house somewhere.

The Need to Belong

Humans have a deep need to belong.

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“Even when people come to Christ and fill their need to belong to God, they still need to belong to the community of God’s people.” Victory Over the Darkness by Neil T. Anderson Continue reading “The Need to Belong”

Pinterest Lies

I’ve decided that Pinterest is a liar.

I use it often for recipes, but haven’t had much luck with crafting. And I’m a fairly decent crafter.

This week, Wesley has a science project due on Friday at school. It has to be demonstrated in front of the class, so anything involving boiling water and other dangerous (or impossible) chemicals/tools aren’t an option. Continue reading “Pinterest Lies”

Misunderstood Lyrics

I’m always amused by a good case of misunderstood lyrics. Wesley has added to my list of favorites by singing the chorus of God is On The Move by 7eventh Time Down as, “Good is on the loose, on the loose, Hallelujah!”

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But Caleb recently had me laughing until I was breathless at his interpretation of the chorus of Lauren Daigle’s First. Continue reading “Misunderstood Lyrics”