It happened during my recent miscarriage.
On the first Sunday of Advent, we learned that I was expecting another baby. A few weeks later, we learned that the baby had died. It was in the throes of the pain from the miscarriage that it happened. I was up in the night with cramps and remember asking God in silence, why? Why was this happening again to our family? We have already had a miscarriage, a stillbirth, and an infant loss. This new baby was an unexpected and happy surprise. Why was I being asked to give up yet another child? Please help me to understand.
And then, just as it happened when our Brigid died, I had a flash of understanding. It was like He pulled back the veil for just one second, and I was able to see something that is so difficult to explain here in words, but that I’m going to attempt by saying that it seemed like suffering was the currency of heaven. Or maybe not the suffering itself, but faith in Him in the midst of the suffering. To suffer and still trust that He is good and that He holds us in his hand and still cares for us – it was like that was the desirable thing. That was worth pursuing, instead of the comfort and pleasure of this world. It was almost as if heaven takes everything here and flips it upside down. Like we have it all backwards. Like the last shall be first. Like faith in the midst of trial is credited to us as righteousness, as the book of Hebrews explains, which surely is heaven’s currency. And that one second of understanding left me craving more.
Not more suffering, of course – I’m not a masochist – but more of His Will. More faith. More drawing close to Him to be able to comprehend how different His ways are from our ways.
Later that same day, though, I found myself scrolling through Instagram and comparing my life to the snapshots posted there. Our builder’s grade home that is still builder’s grade because my decorating budget is zero dollars. The book that I’ve started to write two or three times that might never get finished. My constant struggle to settle in to homeschooling with children who are intense and distracted and unmotivated plus a toddler who tears the house apart. My chickens who are currently laying no eggs whatsoever. This, of course, is not the fault of the people who are posting on Instagram. I love following along with the other homeschoolers and chicken farmers and seeing how people have turned their builder’s grade houses into lovely farmhouse-style homes, and have written books telling others how they can do it, too. But of course, I took the snapshot of heaven that I was given that morning and then complained about my own imagined struggles in comparison with the photos I’d seen and idealized later that very same day. Because I’m holy like that. Help me, Jesus.
But I find that is a regular struggle that I have. A slippery slope that I find myself falling into: comparison. What have I done with my life? What does this all amount to, this never-ending laundry and tidying and changing beds and cooking and doing dishes? Why aren’t I doing something more significant?
And this battle inside between knowing that what I have is good and enough, and still wanting more drains me. I want not to care how many people liked my picture or my Facebook post, but I find the little dopamine hits I get when people like them addictive. I want to spend time focused on and enjoying the people in my home, but I find that I treat them like distractions when I’m scrolling mindlessly through Facebook reading about what everyone else has done that day. And I don’t want it to be like that.
Here is what I’m hoping to gain with my (at least) 12-week-long break from social media:
- more time – I know I waste hours and hours of time mindlessly staring at my phone. I need that time back. Having a large family means that I have so much work to do, and I hope that getting that time back will make me more productive. I also hope that I get to spend more time doing creative things that I enjoy – like blogging here, knitting, and doing artwork.
- an appreciation for what I have – rather than “window shopping” in other people’s homes and wishing I had what they do, I hope to be satisfied and content with what I have.
- peace of mind – I am a sensitive person. I know this about myself. I’m easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation, and scrolling through social media feels like hundreds of people talking to me at the same time. About all different topics, all vying for my attention. Even good and lovely topics, informative and helpful things – it bombards me, and at the same time, I find I can’t look away. I don’t know why this is. But what I do know is that I already have five little people vying for my attention at any given time during the day, and I need to let them be the only ones overwhelming me like that. I can’t handle them if I’m already drained and burned out from the other hundred or so posts I’ve looked at that day. I know that might seem silly to some people, but it’s just how I’m wired. I take it all in and feel it all with great intensity. And I need a break from it. Or maybe, since I’ve already taken breaks from it and still find myself getting sucked in, I need to get rid of it altogether. Delete. Unplug. Be done. Maybe it’s gotten that bad.
So those are my New Year’s resolutions this year: to take a break from social media and to see what happens. If I find the changes to be profound, as I believe I might, I’ll probably be giving it up completely. Which seems scary to me, because I have so many wonderful friends on there with whom I love to stay in touch. But there are other platforms for that, and maybe we will write or email more. That, and to press in more to God – through prayer and studying His Word. I want to know more about this upside-down-ness of heaven and how to go through this life with more of an eternal perspective and less of an earthly one.
I had someone tell me once that she was surprised that there weren’t more people in attendance at our baby’s funeral because of the large number of friends I had on Facebook, but that their lack of attendance must be indicative of the fact that I only know how to have fake friends and not real ones. (Ouch!) I don’t find that to be true at all, and many people who live far away from me – that I’ve never once laid eyes on – reached out to help our family in very real and tangible ways in the midst of that terribly difficult time, while some of our own family members didn’t help at all. I do truly believe that Facebook friends, even ones we’ve never met, can be real and genuine friends. But I find the platform itself to be very disturbing to me. And lately I’ve found that I’ve discussed something with someone only to have advertisements for that very thing show up in my Facebook feed shortly after mentioning it. That is upsetting to me in and of itself.
After a rather lackluster year here on the blog, I hope to be posting here once per week to share what is going on with our homeschool or our burgeoning homestead. I had so many amazing healing experiences last year, too, that I’m anxious to share because healing amidst the chaos is what this place is about. But for now, I’m cutting out the internal chaos that social media creates for me, and that should lead to some good things, too.
I’d love to hear about your own experience with taking a social media break. Have you unplugged from it altogether? Do you find yourself struggling with it like I do? Are you able to set and maintain limits for yourself for time online?
Happy New Year, friends!