It was 6:06 am and I heard the baby stirring in his crib. My alarm went off at 5:30 so I could drink a cup of coffee, spend time reading my Bible and get a few things done before the baby wakes and ESPECIALLY before Miss June comes downstairs. She wakes up like a rocket every day and I need to prepare myself daily for her zest for life. The baby usually wakes at 6 but I just realized I had done nothing for the past 30 minutes except for drank (inhaled?) my coffee and stared at our fireplace that I’ve been wanting to redo since we moved in 9 months ago.
I quickly opened my Bible to James because I knew I needed to read something before I started the day and I just love the book of James. The entire book is highlighted, written in, underlined, and circled (including that little “box circle” that you do when you underline something but that’s not enough, it needs a circle too…just me?). This is part of what I read:
“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3: 14-16
Y’all. I had been very disobedient to God, which is ironic because I’ve been preaching obedience to our girls all day, every day. After reading this, I immediately picked up my cell phone, found the Instagram app and deleted it. I put my phone down and walked away from it.
I had an unhealthy relationship with Instagram and I had been denying the truth. Before kids, I deleted Facebook. Like deleted, deleted, not just deactivate or hide it. When I decide something, it’s done and I can be extreme. I have a very sweet husband, by the way, who is oh so patient with me and my rashness. Anyway… I got so fed up with the lack of quality time with people in my life. We all know what everyone’s up to via Facebook so why is it necessary to actually meet up or talk or have a face to face relationship? I wanted to focus on quality over quantity. I think it helped, but then I became a mom and most group communication and events are on Facebook so I’ve since rejoined for that reason keeping limits on my time and use as much as possible.
So then my relationship with Instagram began. I loved the pictures, the single, beautiful snapshots instead of an entire album, which seemed very overwhelming to me. I loved sharing small glimpses of our lives, a perfectly filtered and cropped picture that is not a completely true, accurate look at our entire day to day, maybe just one good moment, but its fun right? I loved following people that I knew, didn’t know, inspired me, encouraged me, just to remind me that there is life and things happening somewhere outside our four walls.
But who was I following? I followed interior designers sharing their portfolios for “inspiration” for my professional career as a decorator. I followed runners who motivated me to go out and run faster and longer than last time. I followed friends of mine, some I see on a regular basis, most I don’t. I followed moms who seem to have it together that encouraged me to do better every day. I followed inspirational people who had a seemingly daily quote that made me think.
But what affect did these posts really have on me? Was it providing me wisdom or just noise? And am I capable of accurately discerning that every time I open Instagram?
- The interior designers’ pictures just exposed all the dissatisfaction I have with our current (new) house that I don’t have time or unlimited budget to decorate instead of being grateful for this amazing home God provided. Let’s be real, if I need design inspiration for a client or my own home, I’ll have no problem finding it online somewhere, in magazines, in stores, etc.
- The runners made me feel guilty and mad at myself that I didn’t run that morning or make the time to run as much as I once did. Giving myself zero grace that I have a nursing baby and 3 year old twins that require seemingly all of my attention for 12+ hours a day.
- The friends and family I followed made me feel like I should also be on an amazing vacation or dress my kids in cute coordinating clothes, or go do that fun outing with my family. They’re real people, not celebrities, so why not me? I envied them instead of enjoying every moment my family and I have together, whatever we’re doing, while covered in sweat, dirt, spit up and could all probably benefit from a glance in the mirror before leaving the house or at least a shower.
- The moms I followed made me feel terrible that I don’t have it together like they do, have a clean house, perfectly behaved kids, and throw a magazine worthy party for every occasion. Following them made me doubt that I have what it takes to raise these kids and especially homeschool.
- The motivational speakers and leaders are great, but really, shouldn’t I be looking primarily to the Bible for advice and truths instead of a human being?
Gulp. No, I don’t have the ability to filter the noise, and it was affecting me big time.
So why was I even wasting the very little alone time I have doing this to myself several times a day? What good was it doing to me? It was stealing my joy, and it certainly was not making me content. The Bible is very clear on this topic.
And then, what if I was adding to someone else’s discontent in their own life? I honestly had never thought of this until that day and I feel horrible that I had been that self-centered. What if posting pictures of my kids made a childless woman feel envy? What if pictures of the one corner of my home that is clean and decorated made another mom feel incapable like I do when I look at those pictures? This thought breaks my heart. I’m so sorry if this is you, from the bottom of my heart.
So why am I sharing this struggle with you? Why be so open and honest with the world about this personal issue I’ve had? I’ve asked myself the same thing many times and have gone back and forth about sharing. But I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this so my hope is that if there is someone out there who can relate to this, please know that you’re not alone and maybe a step back from these platforms is necessary as it has been for me.
I’m not saying social media is terrible, or even Instagram specifically. In fact you’re probably reading this blog via social media (thank you for taking the time, by the way). There are very healthy ways to use it, I’m just being honest saying that maybe it wasn’t healthy for me. Since I became a mom, I’ve been re-evaluating how I spend my time and asking if it’s really adding value to my life or the life of our family. Sure we need downtime and outlets, but what is our life purpose as Christ followers? Being disciples of Christ and expanding the Kingdom of Heaven. And social media was affecting that in a bad way. It tore me down, which I know is not what God wants for us. And what kind of Christ follower, wife, mom, daughter, friend, and sister can I be if I’m not feeling the full peace, joy and contentment that God so freely gives us as His children?
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17
I highly encourage you to read all of James 3 and 4, I can’t say it any better myself. I’m just so happy that God spoke those words to me when I needed them the most.
By the way…. If you need further proof that I most definitely do not have it together as I’m sure I attempted to prove on Instagram at some time… While writing this, I could hear the girls downstairs playing so nicely together. I finished writing and went down to find them having a picnic on the carpet with real cups and real water that I’m positive came from the toilet. The verdict is still out whether the water was ingested. Sadly, it wouldn’t have been the first time. At least I cleaned the toilets this week?