Fasting from social media…so far…

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and nothing happens by “coincidence”. I believe we are all part of a story that God has so eloquently written for our lives. I believe we still have free will, and make choices, but that God already knows the choices we will make. Oh, how He wants great things for us, just as any loving Father wants great things for His children (Matthew 7:11), but sometimes we don’t always see what we are going through as “great”.

Last Sunday, exactly one week ago from today, I made the decision that beginning on Thursday (December 1) I would give up social media for at least the month of December. My reason being that I am currently in a “wait and see” (see last blog for info.) and don’t want to miss what God has for me, as well as an attempt to be more present with my family, which is more important that SnapChats and Instagram posts this Christmas season. That being said, I have known since last Sunday that I would make this decision, and so far had has only 3 full days without social media. Only 3 days that is, and yet already I can feel a difference. It’s still not easy, but as of the first night I slept more soundly than I have in I can’t remember when, a pattern that is still continuing.

So that’s why my body woke me up like clockwork at 5:45 this morning (that and I accidentally fell asleep about 8:30 last night so when you sleep for 9 hours in a row you probably should be waking up). I fought it for a few minutes but then decided it would be nice to have some silence in the house before Brandon and Autumn woke up for me to “get things done”. Only God quickly reminded me that today is our Sabbath Day and that I was to just sit and spend time with Him, not to mention while I did that I could put some ice on my foot and rest since that’s the purpose of Sabbath anyway. Well played God, I thought to myself, and grabbed my Bible, my study book, and pencils and headed to the couch. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t opened this particular study in weeks, but I started reading through the pages and when I came to one particular passage of scripture I decided to stop and look it up in my own Bible translation to see how it would read. Then the very last verse from this passage stood out like a lighthouse on a dark and stormy sea: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NASB). As soon as I read it I realized this is what God has been trying to teach me all week. In fact, let me give you a little play-by-play of how this week has gone:

Monday (1 day after being obedient and making this decision to fast from social media): God pours an enormous amount of thoughts into me on the way to work, for which I am hugely grateful. I think I have gotten my word for next year, which surprises me because I usually don’t get that until January or February, but okay cool.

Tuesday: I begin the process of wasting entirely too much time on social media, knowing it will “end” in 2 days.

Wednesday: I get myself ready to give up social media. I tell my small group and post this great blog called “Wait and See” to explain why I am doing this crazy gesture of giving up social media. I stay up until 11:58, falling asleep as I scroll through social media for the “last time” before finally deleting all of the apps on my phone.

Thursday: It feels weird not waking up by looking through Facebook, or checking Snapchat, so I decide to just get up already and I end up leaving for work almost 20 minutes earlier than usual so I go to Starbucks and get a FREE Starbuck’s Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato with fat-free milk and extra caramel drizzle (I’m sorry but did I mention FREE???). I get to work and get my day ready, nice and calm, not stressed, slightly annoyed at how much time I waste in the morning on social media. Several times throughout the day I tray to take a Snapchat or think of something funny to say on Facebook, and try to do mindless scrolling on everything. I whine to my community group (shoutout to y’all for being so amazing and patient) about not having social media. But right before I fall asleep something interesting happens: we have more money in our checking account than I have logged in my budgeting book. I try to figure this out for about 20 minutes and end up falling asleep.

Friday: I wake right on up and realized I’ve had a wonderful night of sleep, and think about how I actually wake up better and faster without social media. Go figure! I get ready and spend about 15 minutes trying to figure out my budgeting error but give up, only having partially figured out what went wrong. I go to work and do slightly better (but not much), mostly due to the fact that I had an enormous amount of work to do. That afternoon I decide to look at my budget and check log one last time and finally find ALL the errors and got us balanced up. And for the first time EVER I actually found unspent money. It was truly a mistake on my on part since all of our transactions really had cleared. God had provided a way for us to pay all the bills on time. That night we have our Supper Club Christmas party and I actually feel more involved not constantly checking my phone and had a great time.

Saturday: I take a few pictures as we work on the house but slowly don’t even think about “posting” anything. I go to check the mail and find the huge bill I’ve been dreading that is due January 1, but I also find my retirement refund check I’ve been waiting for for over a month to come in, and it is significantly larger that I had anticipated. Actually, to be completely honest, it was only $60 less that the huge bill that had came in. I screamed for joy and gave many thanks of praise unto God as it felt like an anvil had been lifted from my shoulders.

Sunday: After waking up after a 3rd night of complete sleep and rest, I do some Bible study and realize how much God is pouring into me and start writing this blog.

If you read “Wait and See” you know what a huge answered prayer some of these things really are, both financially and spiritually. God pulled through yesterday with this check and with the “found” money on Friday. The cool thing is how by not having this money sooner God protected me and kept me from Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. I finally surrendered, and obeyed, and asked God with pure motives to provide this week on Wednesday (as He instructed last Sunday), and oh how HE provided! I asked Him for spiritual guidance in some matters (some of which I can discuss in a later blog) and He really overflowed my cup on those and my heart is just in awe of my Heavenly Father right now.

If you go back and read the verses before 16 in Hebrews 4, there’s a lot of great stuff there, but one of the things the author writes in verse 15 is that we have a high priest in Jesus, “who has been tempted in all things we are, yet without sin.” I stopped and realized that a lot of time I don’t cling to Scripture like I should, and I don’t let God hold me, leaning on Him for things like I need to. Do I really believe that I can come to God with confidence and receive mercy and find grace? Do I really believe that God has ALL wisdom and guidance and has been temped in ALL things, to where He can pour perfect insight into my life? I think part of me has doubted those things in the past, but just by taking a step in being obedient unto God, He gave me so many wonderful gifts this week, more than I could have even imagined in different ways than I would have thought, but I am even more grateful for these.

I don’t think it was just a “coincidence” that I lost money during the two biggest “sale” days of the year, but still found the money in time to pay the bills I needed to pay. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I read this passage of Scripture in a book I haven’t picked up in weeks, at 6AM this morning after having this particular week. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I am writing the last thoughts of this I hear Autumn sweetly call for “Mommy!”. I do, however, believe God, instead, holds for us a much greater life than we choose to live in 90% of the time. I believe we can walk in abundant life and hold fast to His word and abide in Him always and we will see just how much we are missing out on before with all of the distractions of life.

Does this mean everything is going to go right all of the time and life will just be perfect? Absolutely not. But God already gave us what we need to press on, we just have to make sure we use it.

“Wait and See”

At 9:15 the band started playing and worship began. I love this song, I thought to myself and closed my eyes like usual to sing praise from my heart. But today was difficult. I sung the words but soon I didn’t even hear myself singing anymore, lost in thought as my mind drifted away. A couple of times I said quietly, “Focus”, and though it sounded like a prayer it was more of a command to myself. By the time the sermon began I had thought of about a million other things than singing worship to God, and I realized just how distracted my soul truly was.

I can’t say when this unrest, these distractions really started, but for weeks now I have felt it coming. I think Sunday was just the tipping point I realized something had to change. As Chad was making his way up to the stage the words “silent and solitude” from the last sermon echoed in my heart and again I remembered the first stage of burnout: failure to take care of yourself. That for sure is me, I’m there I had thought after that message, but not much had changed in the past week. You see when you’re too busy being a control-freak and trying to be strong for and take care of everyone else sometimes your own needs go unmet. So here I sat, wondering what the next sermon series would be as I still reflected upon the last…

(Side note: Please note that the quotes used below are not direct, but come from my paraphrased notes I took)

“Wait and see. A wait-and-see moment is when you’ve done all you can do and are waiting for God to come through. Maybe your waiting on God to act, or your just waiting for guidance”. Everything in me froze and immediately I was intrigued. Chad continued talking and I felt like I could cry. Yes, I have been in a wait-and-see for a while now. I was waiting on God to act AND give guidance actually, but so far nothing. Just silence. In that moment I felt God speak, “You have not because you ask not”. Chad continued preaching and I kept hearing those words repeated to me, though Chad never actually said those words. I knew the verse was from James, but couldn’t quite pinpoint it. I flipped to James, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:2b-3 NASB). Ouch, that hurts. What’s interesting is the words that followed from Chad…

“Some of you aren’t going to want to hear this, and I even debated on saying this…” Yikes… “Sometimes we don’t hear from God because of sin in our life. It could be a hidden area of sin or an area of defiance.” My gut reaction was no, because my relationship with the Lord has been pretty good, but then Proverbs 3:5-6 got brought up and the Holy Spirit convicted me about the whole “lean not on your own understanding” part. I soon realize my area of defiance/sin. Once again, I had slipped into having to always be in control. I wasn’t looking for God to guidance, but had been trying to do everything all on my own. I hadn’t asked God for guidance or help, and therefore had not received. And the few times I had asked God to provide guidance, or even asked God to provide financially in this “wait and see”, it was coming from a place of pride in my heart, which would allow me to be in continued control. No, I wasn’t asking God for more stuff or even more pleasure in those moments, but I was, in a nutshell, just asking to remain in control.

As we entered into a time of prayer I knew immediately what I had to do. I knew a lot of my distractions and unrest was coming from my constant contact with social media. I had been wrestling with God about giving this up but had not obeyed, and I knew the time had come to surrender. I decided that as of December 1 I would give up all social media (except for blogging and the occasional Pinterest search when needed) for at least the month of December. My other reason for doing this is because in this time of waiting, I don’t want to miss what God will provide, whether it’s a specific act of plain guidance. I want to make sure I’m available to listen to Him. Also, with it being the Christmas season, I want to make sure I’m fully present in the here and now and available to my family and friends, to remember the true reason for this season. Overall, I know that this social media fast is meant for my good.

Right before writing this post I was reminded of my word for 2016, “Held” when the song by Casting Crowns came on the radio. Once again, tears swelled in my eyes as I listened to the lyrics. This year I was supposed to learn what it meant to be held by God. While I still feel like I have more to learn, I now at least feel like I understand what God wanted me to know. I am not meant to go through life alone, even though it may feel like that sometimes. And while there is an expectation to be strong, I have to remember that this is not to be done in my own strength, but in the Lord’s. I must trust in Him and lean fully on Him, for He is the one who holds me, not myself.

This year has brought some crazy things, and life has “hit me out of nowhere” more than once. On more than one occasion I felt like I was barely hanging on, but man has God done some awesome stuff! He brought Brandon and I closer together in our marriage than ever before. He placed us in an awesome church family and in and amazing community group. Our family has grown and I was provided a full time job at my dream location. So while there have been plenty of ups and downs this year, God has consistently reminded me of oh how faithful He is. I am not alone, I can stop trying to hold on and have constant control, but instead, just be held by Him. ❤