To Fast or Not to Fast?
Well, Happy New Year, everyone! Can you believe another year has come and gone? Me either! Mom told me time would begin to fly at some point in my life and I think I’ve finally hit that point. I turn around and BAM another year has flown on by!
And, with that being said, I’m about to do something this year I never thought I would do. I’m going to fast social media for 21 days!
What?!?!? That sounds even weirder when I type it out, but, let me tell you why….
Reason #1: Distractions
A few months back I realized I was constantly looking at my phone or computer. I mean CONSTANTLY! I would look over at notifications that continually popped up on my computer screen. Sometimes I would click and go to whatever the notification was about. Sometimes not.
My phone was set for notifications from what seemed like every app on my phone. At times during the day, and night, I would see an entire line of app notifications across the top of my phone. And, again, sometimes I would click on each and every one of them and sometimes I would leave them alone. But, more times than not, I would stop whatever I was doing to check what they were all about. Then, before I knew it one hour, two hours, etc. were G-O-N-E!
Although I joked about “going down the rabbit hole” of the social media abyss, it really wasn’t a joke. I realized constantly looking at my devices for any notification was becoming a problem.
Reading Cal Newport’s book Deep Work a few summers back I was dumbfounded to find out all of those little notifications distract us more than we realize. Every time we look up, over, or down from something we are doing (working, studying, writing, talking, praying, etc.) takes us away from that task, even for a second, breaking our concentration and then we have to spend more time getting back on track and focused again. All of those little “breaks” add up to a lot of time lost that could be used more productively.
Reason #2: Envy and Comparison
As I scrolled through the unending posts and images I began to feel jealous of some of the things I should have been happy about seeing. Images of people traveling on wonderful vacations or buying new cars, new houses, etc. should have been things I would gladly “Like” and feel happy for “Friends” on my social media accounts, but I wasn’t. I began to see their celebrations of fun times or new purchases as an inadequacy within myself.
Priding myself on seeing the glass half-full and the positive side of pretty much anything and anyone, I recognized I was creating a reality that can never be achieved. Comparing ourselves to picture-perfect images and posts will always highlight our shortcomings, or what we perceive as deficiencies.
Please don’t get me wrong, online communities and connections, for the most part, are positive experiences that should be welcomed and enjoyed. It’s only when comparing ourselves to others AND when we get to a point of doing it constantly throughout our day that it can literally lead to feelings of being lonely, inadequate, envious, and even frustrated or angry. That’s not healthy!
I love staying connected to people I’ve lost contact with over the years and I love meeting new people via online contacts. Heck, I even married one! Tom and I met online almost nine years ago, so there are some positives to being online! 😉
Reason #3: Urging from the Lord
After realizing all of the time being sucked out of my day and feeling like others had it better than me, I had a lightbulb moment. God was directing me to fast social media for the upcoming 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting!
Our church, Church of the Highlands, participates in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting in January of every year. We always participate in the 6:00 AM worship services throughout the 21 days and I’ve done different types of fasting throughout the years. I’ve fasted one meal a day, eaten only soups or liquids for one meal a day, caffeine (that one was NOT good!) but I’ve never fasted anything other than food.
Honestly, hearing others fast social media or television sounded like a death sentence to me! But, we’ve gone over a year without cable and don’t seem any worse for doing so. We’re probably better off financially and emotionally if the truth were known. So, fasting TV doesn’t sound so bad now. But, if I’ve already been without TV, for the most part, would fasting TV really be a true “fast”? Probably not.
Social media on the other hand, well, that’s a whole other issue. Like I described above, fasting social media may actually be more of a “trial” for me than fasting food or TV. As a blogger and hopeful soon-to-be author, social media is the lifeblood for staying in contact with readers and followers. Ironically, fasting social media for a blogger/author could mean a loss of readers, followers, and even future revenue.
But, if I continue traveling on the road I’m on, I may stop being a blogger, never become an author, and drive myself right into a deep depression while lacking a God-filled spirit. The enemy would love that! I’m not willing to let that happen!
I may never be an award-winning author or have a ministry like Lysa Terkeurst, and THAT IS OKAY. If I’m listening and following God’s map for my life, then I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Fasting social media for 21 days may be part of His side trip to get me refocused and back on the main road, He’s trying to lead me down.
See Ya’ in 21 Days!
So, those are MY reasons for going off the grid for a few weeks. I’m not trying to tell anyone they should do this, but I know many people, like me, don’t think they have a problem with social media. Maybe we all just need to look at how often we’re distracted by pings and sounds notifying us to look away.
I’ve already turned off notifications from my phone and computer just to get accustomed to not anticipating another noise to distract me and guess what, it’s actually working. I really haven’t missed it. Maybe it’s a mind game, but not hearing or seeing notifications has caused me to just move on to the next thing I should be doing rather than sitting and scrolling for HOURS!
Within these 21 days, I will decrease my time with social media so I can increase my time with God. I’m also planning to finish the book I’ve been working on for a year (just think how fast I could have written it had I not lost hours going down another rabbit hole!), getting some of the marketing ready for promoting it, cleaning out my home office, doing more house projects (we have a fixer upper that still needs a lot of fixin’ up!), and strengthening my relationship with the Lord, my husband, my kids, friends, students, and people in general.
My word for 2018 is “Present”….being present in the moment. Maybe being less distracted and more present will allow me to do a lot more with my time and energy in 2018!
Here are some other helpful resources about fasting in general and fasting social media. Also, please join Church of the Highlands every morning (M-F) at 6 AM and on Saturdays at 9 AM. The 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting starts Sunday, January 7 and continues until Saturday, January 27. The worship services will be available for you to watch for 24 hours after the 6 AM service, so you can watch it whenever your time permits.
Resources for prayer styles, fasting styles, and times/places for live services.
An interactive prayer journal I created for you to write down your prayers and respond to prompts and scriptures.
Details physical and emotional benefits of fasting social media
A faith-based view of fasting social media