Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Get Outta Here, Facebook! (why I gave up social media for Lent)

As I groggily reach for my phone in my usual morning fog, the alarm beeps seem to grow louder.  Who picked that annoying ringtone anyway?  Alarm turned off, I pick up my phone and start to browse the usual social media outlets: facebook, Instagram, and maybe even twitter for good measure.  Crap, it’s Morgan’s birthday. How did I not know that?  Good thing I have facebook to send me messages of peoples’ birthdays and anniversaries.   Lauren is in New York? Ugh- I want to be somewhere.  Sarah just booked a cruise? Is it only me who doesn’t get to go everywhere whenever I want?  Oh, and there’s another picture of someone’s beach vacation just to rub it in.  Ooh, that haircut is super cute. I need to do something to my hair – there’s no point in selfies if I don’t look good
Well, time to climb out of bed and start the day. 
I just noticed a link to an article that says, “You won’t believe what happens when….”!  Obviously I need to see if I believe it or not.  So exciting.

This recount of a fictional day, unfortunately, is closer to the truth on a typical morning than I want to admit.  The past year or so I have felt convicted about how second-nature it is to turn to my phone the instant something isn’t holding my attention completely.  Why has this obsession with our phones – and social media in particular – overtaken our lives?  I rarely walk into a coffee shop where thumbs aren’t becoming more arthritic by constant scrolling.  The other day a couple sat down beside me at Starbucks and began snapchatting EACH OTHER! Apparently a pixelated photo on a screen is better than the real thing. I mean, at least there’s editing.

Which brings me to another point.  We EDIT our lives for those around us.  Of course I’m not going to post about my sucky day and how I am battling depression and how annoyed I am that I can’t figure out what to make for dinner because I’m completely broke and have no groceries. 
No way.
I’m going to post #TBT photos of me at the beach to reinforce the idea that I have good days and that others should maybe even be jealous of this awesomeness.  I only post things when I’m at a concert or took a good photo, or when I’m with cool people to “check-in” with. 

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

This realization has helped me make much less frequent postings on social media.  I no longer update my albums, I don’t care if someone tags me in something, and I stopped checking in at the cool venues I frequent. 

But I realized that just because I wasn’t posting didn’t mean that I wasn’t a slave to other peoples’ lives.  I compare myself to where they go, who they hang out with, what music they listen to, and the vacations they take.  I want their hair, their makeup, their photo-taking skills.  Unfortunately just because I don’t care what others think about my personal postings, I still care about who I am based on others.  But now it’s an internal struggle.  Why can’t I be that awesome?

Get this: there is a reason we try to find our identity through others.  We were made that way.  But we are supposed to find our identity through the Creator and we are just searching in all the wrong places.  The good news is that we have been “given fullness in Christ” (Colossians 2:10).  There is no need to compare ourselves to others – that only sets us up for failure and frustration.  I am not saying it isn’t hard, but it is an important realization to focus on the fullness in Christ we have rather than the unfulfilling expectations society places upon us.

For this reason, I have decided to give up my social media outlets for Lent (blogging does not cause any stumbling or addictions for me).  I need to refocus my attention on God and give up this addiction to my phone and comparison to others. 

So far, in my first week off, I have found my time spent in the Word is much more enlightening than seeing what my friends are up to.  Yes I am missing birthday updates, but if I don’t already know their birthdays how good of a friend am I anyway?  I am becoming more invested in real-life relationships and less invested in the personas seen online.  I am realizing it doesn’t matter what others do or say about me, but rather who God says I am.  And that is all that matters in this life and the one to follow.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Erasing Hell" by Francis Chan - discussion guide

This week at our book community, we are discussing the important (yet frequently dismissed) topic of hell.  We are reading Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle's book, Erasing Hell, and I have a free pdf of the discussion guide compiled for our group available HERE.