“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.”
– Romans 14: 17-19
Throughout Romans 14, Paul elaborates on the topic of personal convictions. He encourages us to quietly obey our own personal convictions for the right reasons: to honor God, and to respect those around us – not to not boast of our own ability to hear and obey God. Convictions should foster worship to God, not us.
That being said, I do believe that God often blesses us with shareable wisdom hidden within the conviction – and many times, I have been blessed by hearing the convictions of others!
Here is a conviction God has given me recently. Please know that this is where I’m at, and this is what God is teaching me right now. If you relate, cool. If not, that’s cool too.
Also: remember that God loves you with an everlasting love. Remember that every day.
Okay, so back to the conviction:
At the beginning of 2018, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to fast from social media until further notice: specifically, by deactivating my Facebook account and deleting Instagram from my phone. Though my previous social media fasts have yielded positive results, I was more hesitant this time around for one main reason:
I would be fasting on my birthday.
Birthdays make Facebook fun. Facebook makes birthdays fun. I couldn’t imagine turning 26 without endless Facebook notifications throughout the day validating my earthly existence. Plus, Facebook helps us remember other people’s birthdays. By disabling Facebook’s omniscient cyber nagging to remind my friends and family of what day it is…who will actually remember my birthday?
What if no one remembers my birthday?
Ugh. Okay, Jesus. I get it now.
So what if no one remembers your birthday? My love will sustain you. I am all you need.
I obeyed, despite the risk of wasting away my first day of 26 anxiously holding a phone void of “Happy Birthday!” dings and offers of free coffee.
But that didn’t happen. As surely as the sun rose, God blessed me. An old friend happened to pass through Atlanta on the morning of my birthday and joined me for breakfast. It was spontaneous, and it was God.
I know that was just the beginning. God has a lot more in store for me during this social media fast. I’m only about one month in, and I’ve already noticed I have significantly more of three invaluable things: Time, Peace, and Creativity.
Allow me to explain.
I have more time. I recently read that the average smartphone user spends 5 hours a day on his or her phone. Five hours a day! As a millenial and ex-Myspace addict, I believe it. I’m prone to mindless scrolling at a red light. It’s in my behavioral DNA.
Less scrolling means more time to read and write. Five more hours of time.
Secondly, I have more peace. My mind is quieter.
Maybe it’s just me, but…have you ever noticed the sensational satisfaction that comes when we share our opinion on social media? Have you yet to experience the rush of successfully proving yourself right in 140 characters or less? It’s addicting. Whether it’s a statement we’ve coined as simple as “Life is _____, go _____”, or, a litany of arguments: we get a rush.
The internet is full of people continually getting high off yelling through their keyboard. And when we mindlessly breathe in the opinions of others without deliberately taking the time to sift through their sentiments to sniff the right from the wrong, we’ve over-clouded our mental space.
In other words: you’ve just read a bunch of stuff. Some words were written by people you can trust, and others by whom you barely know. Either way, their thoughts have manifested into your thoughts.
But you’re not intentionally throwing out the bad thoughts and keeping the good ones. There is no bouncer at this party – they all showed up! Countless voices float around, all speaking at once. Add to that the endless diatribe of our own inner monologues. Plus, the voice of the enemy!
Oh, and somewhere, beneath all of that, is the Holy Spirit.
Seriously? His voice needs to be the only voice I hear!
Less noise, more peace.
And finally, more creativity by way of less comparison. As a 26-year-old female figuring out how to walk by faith, my life doesn’t look like everyone else’s.
And that’s okay.
I’m sure you can relate. Most of us feel that by this point of our lives, we could’ve and should’ve accomplished more, sinned less, yadda yadda yadda. We scroll past people on Instagram who look like they’ve really got it all together; we wish we had it together too. And just like that, we’ve taken a shot of envy. We’re trapped in comparison and held captive from creativity.
Because, after all, how can I create anything original if I’m continuously comparing myself to another person? Do the jealous ever rest? By analyzing the details of another person’s life – er, just the ones that they choose to share – I do not feel inspired. I feel tired.
Like, literally. Comparison is exhausting, and the Bible says it’s just not wise. Straight up.
So, there you have it. More time to live in the One who holds all time. More peace to dwell in, peace that the world cannot take away. With a mind full of peace, I dwell in divine rest, the place where creativity flows. I write and sing that I might taste and see what no eye has seen and no ear has heard – only what my Heavenly Father has kept just for me.
Thanks for listening to my conviction. Now, again, it’s not for everyone. The benefits of social media have blessed a lot of people. After all, there’s nothing inherently sinful about it. But there’s a lot of sin in my heart; and removing the temptation from my life gave way for the Lord to reveal hidden iniquities and traps that crept in through my news feed. Fasts are really good at revealing things.
Speaking of fasts…Hmmm! Whaddaya know! Today’s not only Valentine’s Day – it is also the beginning of Lent.
Speaking of Lent…
Is God calling you to fast from something?