Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Why I'm Giving Up Facebook for Lent

You might have a Facebook problem...

...when your 13-year old prefaces every photo op and most conversations with "...don't tag me, Mom."

...when you start seriously dating a guy and realize that one of the first disclosures you made was, "I'm a prolific Facebooker; you're okay with your pic being posted. A lot. Right?"

....when you go half a day without posting and one of your best friends texts you to make sure you're okay - and he's sincerely concerned.

...when you're crunching hard toward a work deadline and sporadically realize that you're scrolling through FB posts again, and you honestly don't even remember clicking the link.

...when you mention to people that you're considering giving it up for Lent and are met with raucous laughter. More than once.

...when you check FB one more time before drifting off to sleep...when it's the first thing you do in the morning...and again after brushing your teeth... at every stop light...and while standing in line at Starbucks....

But the excessive time I spend on Facebook isn't my real problem. This is:
I've let Facebook become the barometer for my perceived self-worth, and that's not only dangerous, it's sinful.When I look at my heart and really be honest, I know that I depend more on that little rush of Facebook-manufactured serotonin to affirm me than I do on the love of the One who created me. I've let likes and comments become the very things that define my worth. It's become an addiction. That's hard to admit. It's embarrassing.  

I've never practiced the discipline of giving up something for Lent before. Last week, when the thought first emerged that I might even consider doing this, I darn near started twitching. I have waffled back and forth so many times since then. "Yes, do it. This is the very point of giving up something for Lent - removing something that impedes your relationship with God." And then, "Are you crazy?? You'll suffer and DIE without Facebook! That's where your FRIENDS live!"

The fact that this decision has been so wrenching for me is further proof that I need to do it. I have tied so much of myself to my Facebook profile that it feels like I'm almost cutting off my very air supply. Every aspect of my life - my connections, my stories, my achievements, my very identity - are filtered and edited through Facebook. I live out loud, and that's something I'm actually very proud of. But for the last year or so, living out loud has begun to look more like self-absorption and over-indulgence. 

So I'm leaving Facebook for 40 days to wander in the wilderness. Here's what I hope to find:

1. fulFEELment
I'm not someone I'd call "religious". I don't adhere to many rules and regulations, especially as they were written out for me in my youth. But I have a deep faith, and regularly enjoy open dialogue with God. He doesn't tell me I look skinnier this week, or that I'm doing a great job at work, or that my house is decorated well. But when I'm listening, He tells me that I'm enough just as I am. He reminds me that I'm good at what I do because He instilled in me a burning passion to do it. He erases my need for constant external validation because His grace is sufficient for even me. FOR EVEN ME. Frankly, I've been too full of me to be filled with holiness. I'm ready to empty myself to make room for Him again. I have never in my life felt more at peace, more full of hope, more gentle of spirit, than I did when I completely emptied myself and allowed myself to feel God, and to let Him fill me.

This is the 3rd verse from one of my favorite old-school hymns:

Day by day His tender mercy,Healing, helping, full and free,Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,Brought me lower while I whispered,Less of self, and more of Thee.

2. my Story
I have a deep, innate desire to be heard - to tell my story. I always have. Facebook has provided an outlet for for my voice to be heard, but at the expense of actually experiencing the story. I've been too busy seeking worldy validation for it than I have in actually living it and celebrating it. I often post in real-time. Something interesting is happening right now? THEN I MUST POST ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW EVEN IF THAT MEANS MISSING SOME OF THE ACTUAL SOMETHING HAPPENING. I once was an avid blogger, and I loved it. It was a healthy exercise for me to write every night. To this day, I often reference incidents from my kids' childhoods by searching for them on this blog. It contains their life stories in black and white. That is priceless to me, and one day, it will be to them, too. I'm excited to make it a priority again. I have a story to tell, and removing Facebook for awhile will afford me the time and inclination to get back into the happy habit of writing it.

3. The heart of me.
At the heart of me, I know who I am and whose I am. From that comforting truth poured the most authentic creativity. I have a whole detached garage that has been converted into a craft room, and yet I've barely spent any time out there in the last year. I haven't been happy with anything I've painted in more than a year, so I haven't posted any of it. You know what? I've been painting for likes and comments. That has got to stop. Less Facebook consumption, I hope, will lead to more authentic creation. It's time to expose the heart of me again, even if no one else ever sees it. ESPECIALLY if no one else ever sees it. 

4. Presence.
I spend so much time looking down that I forget how beautiful it is to look up and out. I'm here, but I'm rarely fully present. I'm eager to feel the warm spring breeze lifting my hair without interrupting the calmness of that moment to post about it. I yearn to wake up and just lie there listening to the birds singing outside my window without the urgent cacophony of notifications at my bedside. I'm ready to be fully present with the people I love most in the world. Fully. Present. What a concept.


This morning, I woke up and deleted the Facebook app from my phone without ever opening it. As soon as I opened my laptop at work, I deleted the bookmark. I disabled notifications. And somehow still, I'm barraged with constant temptation to log on. I attended a luncheon today where the speaker kept urging us to "check in on Facebook." The fact that Terri checked me in FOR me and then told me about it almost made me quit twitching. For a minute. This is a real addiction, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that I'm having withdrawals already. Even I'm surprised how hard it actually is. I literally feel sad. I feel lonely. Again - proof that it's become unhealthy for me.

I won't be gone forever. Just forty days. When I come back, I'll be less obsessive. (One can only hope, right? lol) People have said, "Why give it up? Just curb your usage. Just be more disciplined." But I know me. In most everything I do, I'm all-in or all-out. I'm not very good at moderation. I need to go all-in with this exercise in self-control. Or rather, all-OUT. And so it shall be.

I'll continue to post on Instagram, and my #100HappyDays posts will still feed to Facebook. But I won't check in to see comments or likes or messages. If you contact me via FB Messenger, I won't read it. If you post to my wall, I won't see it. I'm physically removed. Use email. Text. DROP IN UNEXPECTEDLY. I LOVE THAT!

I will log on as soon as I publish this post to share the link so that no one will think I'm just ignoring them or that I've been abducted "at gun point" in the Ukraine. After that, I will not cheat. I won't be back until Easter. 

I'll miss you guys.
Love, love, love.


Anonymous said...

See you after Easter since the only connection I have with you is through FB. Enjoy your journey!


Anonymous said...

I am proud of you! I know this is hard. You are to be commended! People may tease you about not being on fb, but they really love you. How could they not? God bless you! Love, Linda M