A few weeks ago, I posted this to Instagram:
Taking an Instagram break for the remainder of Lent. I love this form of social media something fierce but I think the extra time + attention leading up to Easter will be good for me ♡ /// see you soon!
I love Instagram and usually post several pictures a day. Facebook annoys me, and I could never really get into Twitter, but Instagram gets me. I was the girl who read blogs for the pictures, before Instagram came along. I love seeing. I'm a visual learner, I'm easily inspired and set to action (something that can be problematic as I'll soon discuss), and I live far away from many of my closest friends. Seeing images that inspire and connect and encourage me has never been a bad thing, indeed I have actually thanked God for Instagram from time to time as I've seen how it's provided the aforementioned things. Too far? I'm serious.
But I know it's a stumbling block for some. I've read blog posts on the topic over and over again. I've written my own, guest posting for Naptime Diaries, and you're welcome to read it. Instagram, like any other form of social media, heck, like any other THING, can stir up ugliness in our hearts. Greed, Lust, Jealousy, Discouragement. The comparison game is easy to play when you're seeing the highlight reel of someone's day. So when I hear of people giving up social media for Lent, or fasting from it, or all out casting it off, I'm not surprised. I even think it's terrific, for some.
But that's not where I'm at. It's not where I've been at. I'm thankful to say, the internet is all sorts of life giving and wonderful. In this season, as an at-home mom of three little ones, especially during the coldest February Montreal has seen in 100 years, it's straight up survival.
So why did I want to give up Instagram? Ha ha haaaaaaaa good question, and embarrassing answer.
I got swept up in the hype.
I'm the type of person (and I think this is 99% of the time a good thing, ahem.), who dives in. I'm easily influenced, I love change, I enjoy a challenge, and I'm all for drastic. If someone asks me to join them in something hard but likely very rewarding, I'll probably jump on board. That's what happened here.
A friend of mine, whom I greatly respect, casually mentioned that she was trying to be more "un-plugged" for lent. She didn't specify what she was un-plugging from, but it implied social media. It was a comment in passing, and I didn't even ask for more details. Forget the fact that though I definitely have my struggles, social media hasn't been one of them in recent history. Forget the fact that I don't tend to practice giving up something for lent as I'm torn on the theological significance, as a non-Catholic, post Reformation Christian. Forget the fact that, Instagram provided healthy contact with the outside world, fellowship, and encouragement. I was inspired, and I dove in.
So what did I discover in the couple weeks I went without Instagram?
It's a really really good thing for me.
Without Instagram I was surprisingly lonely. I have a good number of friends whom I connect with solely via Instagram. I have friends who only use Instagram. In the niche group of at-home moms with several kids, whose husbands work long hours, particularly in ministry, I have found community, thanks to Instagram. It's so life-giving to see someone else doing the same things I'm doing, because don't we just always think we're THE ONLY ONES? The only ones having a hard day, the only ones who are struggling through potty training. The only ones whose kids argue. The only ones who need that
second third cup of coffee some mornings. Instagram has reminded me time and time again that I'm not alone. I've connected with other moms, other church-planter's wives, other pastor's wives, other urban moms, other women excited about and challenged by the same things.
And it's inspiring, encouraging, gets my creative juices flowing (scratch that, I hate that expression. juices. bleck. Just creativity, yay! It's all over the place!)
Also? I stopped taking pictures! My phone had, like, four pictures on it for the whole two weeks I was off Instagram. Turns out, it's brought out a bit of a photographer in me and I'm all for that. Even my old school iPhone 4s camera is pretty great, and Instagram filters are the best. Brighter, clearer, sunnier? Yes please. Our family photo albums are increasingly sporting Instagram filtered pictures and so many of those images are priceless to me.
Instagram, for me, is a creative outlet, a community, a connection point among friends, a source for inspiration with cooking, parenting, spiritual things, decor. It's a really good thing. Giving it up was a hasty decision and I don't really know what I was thinking.
But there was some fruit.
There were times when things were particularly chaotic, and I noticed I'd instinctively reach for my phone. And then I'd remember I'd deleted Instagram so there was nothing to move my eyes towards. That was a good realization because I was reminded that social media can be an escape and I don't want that. I want to be there in the hard, messy, loud moments with my kids. I want to use social media wisely, not to distract myself from a good thing, but to spur me towards good things. It's caused me to consider making a little rule for myself whereby I only check Instagram at night. I can post pictures whenever, because that only takes a second, but it's the checking back throughout the day that I'd like to stop. I turned off all notifications from Instagram on my phone, so I won't know when someone hearts or comments, and I'm marveling at the stupidity of waiting so long to do that!
On Quitting Lent.
I will say that for many, Lent is a season for giving up GOOD THINGS and so everything I was feeling, the loneliness particularly, should have drawn me closer to Christ. The trouble is, the Bible doesn't actually teach on Lent, so we rely heavily on Catholic tradition to decide what we should do, even many non-Catholic Christians!
I've heard of protestants adding a spiritual discipline during Lent, rather than giving up something, and I think I could get into that. The most common thing to give up for Lent is chocolate, and while craving chocolate might remind me to crave Jesus (I guess?), and giving up a delicious thing might remind me of my own inclination to want to satisfy myself above serving others, I'm sure adding a nightly devotional or reading an extra chapter of the Bible each day of Lent may yield more fruit.
Anyway, I'm curious, have you given up anything for Lent? Have you found yourself feeling closer to God as a result? What have you given up?