In March 2014, the Lord asked me to do something drastic: fast from all forms of social media for an entire year. For some, a year without social media is a no-brainer. But for a fresh-out-of-high-school, image-obsessed, must-be-in-the-know-at-all-times girl like I was, keeping myself from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram seemed about as impossible as chopping down a tree with a plastic butter knife.
In true Jonah fashion, my initial response was flat out disobedience. God told me to awake and go to Nineveh, and I hopped on the boat to Tarshish. But the Holy Spirit has a way of making every little thing – from sermons at church, to conversations with friends, even to commercials on TV – remind us of our disobedience until we do as he asks.
So my next step was, of course, negotiation.
“Ok God,” I said. “A year is a lot, but how about a day? Or a whole week?”
So that’s what I did. After proudly fasting from social media for a whole week, I figured I was in the clear. God would at least appreciate my effort, right?
The answer was crystal clear. Day by day, minute by minute, the Holy Spirit continued to press on my heart.
“Do you love me?” he asked. Of course I do, Lord.
“Do you trust me?” he asked. Without a doubt, Lord.
“Will you obey me?” he asked. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
In that moment, I realized that my disobedience landed me in the belly of a great fish; broken, and in need of a forgiving savior. I knew God would never ask me to do something and refuse to provide the means to do it. Not surprisingly, God provided not only the bare-minimum of self-control, but he also blessed me with much so more spiritual growth than I could have ever imagined.
Here are the 6 most impactful questions God encouraged me to ask myself during that time:
1. Am I vain? Why did I post so many pictures of myself? Be they selfies I took when I thought my hair and makeup looked cute or a candid shot I thought highlighted my favorite features, the question remained: did my use of social media encourage people to worship at Jesus' feet or mine?
2. Am I foolish? Might the disputes I got into online – crafting the most eloquent arguments with just the right balance of wittiness and intellect – really prove my foolishness? On top of that, how many arguments did I get into thinking I was defending God’s honor, only to realize that I was defending my own? Only a fool argues with fools.
3. Do I share too much of my personal info? Have I – through sharing details of my life with others online – created a false sense of community to disguise my need for a real one? Even more, why am I so convinced that people are just dying to know how I spent my Tuesday afternoon?
4. Am I content? How many hours did I spend scrolling through Instagram, allowing countless selfies to subconsciously influence my body image? Is the reason I have issues with my body shape and facial features a product of all the inadvertent comparing and coveting I did as I scrolled?
5. Has social media affected my attention span? From 15-second Instagram videos to 7-second Vines, has my ability to sit down and read a book, or even watch something that’s more than five minutes long without doing something else at the same time decreased? Must I always be multitasking to not feel bored?
6. Has social media affected my ability to be social? Sometimes it’s easier to depend on scrolling through my Twitter feed or ogling styles on Pinterest than it is to hold a conversation with someone at the dinner table. Is that really what I want? In a year’s time, God absolutely broke me. In my disobedience, I – like Jonah – sank with guilt beneath the waves of God’s storm. But when I called out to him, he once again proved himself willing and able to answer the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
**Have you ever tried to resist God’s calling for your life? Share your story in the comments section below!**