[Pre-6 Month Plan: This post is part of the “6 Month Discipleship Plan” series]
It started a few months ago. I had these inward promptings that I have been wasting too much time on social media. But I did not want to get bothered by it so I justified my usage. After all, I use it to connect to people that I do not get to see often and to my friends who live far away. I also use it to update my brothers and sisters in Christ with what’s going on with my personal life and ministry. I also want to be updated about what’s going on with their personal lives and ministries. So deleting my social media accounts was not an option because that would mean disconnection from the world.
The Shame: My overuse of social media
Come June, after a semester in grad school, I had more time to do the things I couldn’t do with an academic bulk. I desired that this extra time would mean more intimate time with God and His work. Unfortunately, I had nights when I would binge-watch on Jubilee’s “Spectrum” and “Middle Ground” series, and go through social media accounts of people whom I personally do not know. Sure, I gained updates about the world from it. I gained bits of encouragement and fresh insights along the way. But it didn’t make me feel rested or relieved afterwards.
I exchanged my power naps and extended sleep with social media-consumption. Sometimes I would even get headaches because my eyes would get strained from all the screen time. I also ended up silently comparing myself to others. Like I needed to do something big now or else I’d be left behind. Such comparison led me to self-pity and to be ungrateful. I spent less time with God thus I ended up unproductive and selfish. It is embarrassing to admit now but there were times when I even did things just for the stories and gram.
I was thinking more of what to share/post next rather than thinking of being with God. Like I needed to constantly voice out an insight and be heard. Instead of relating to the people around me, I would scroll on a feed and withdraw myself from my surroundings. Good comments triggered arrogance in my heart and not receiving feedback brought dissatisfaction.
The Realization: It’s a bondage!
One day, I was led to check the screen time record in my phone. Embarrassing. Really EMBARRASSING! I was wasting an average of 6.45 hours per day on social media and entertainment. That’s about SEVEN HOURS! Seven God-given hours every day on something that won’t contribute to God’s kingdom and had pulled me away from being in God’s presence and hearing God’s word.
The initial intention of my social media-use was reasonable. It was to encourage others to have a closer relationship with Jesus and be encouraged by other people’s personal testimonies and breakthrough updates. However, I allowed myself to be deceived; to be drawn to wanting to hear the voices of the world more than THE living Word. I allowed myself to be bondaged by social media-use.
I know it seems pretty harsh to call it a bondage. But anything that pulls us away from the Lord and draws us into the world and our fleshly desires is a sin. And any sin that I am being a slave of is a bondage. Sure, I can justify my overuse of social media by saying, “But there are a lot of people who spend more time on social media than me”. Or I can belittle it by saying, “Well, it’s not like I am turning away from God.”
But 1 John 2:15-17 clearly says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.“
Sin is sin. Bondage is bondage. I can turn away from it or I can allow it to consume me. I can only choose one master for “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” – Matthew 6:24(a,b)
The Solution: All out or not at all
Such realizations and shame brought me to repentance. Praise the Lord! He led me to desire to surrender this social media bondage.
I initially wanted just a partial surrender. By partial, I mean I won’t delete my personal accounts, I will just keep myself from opening it. This is because I didn’t want to let go of my social media “friends” and the accounts/pages I follow. I also “treasured” in my heart the posts I had shared in the past which I thought was significant and memorable.
But partial surrender doesn’t really work. I would unconsciously pick up my phone and log on to my accounts. I would convince myself that it would work but clearly it didn’t.
It’s either I give it all up or not at all.
By God’s grace, I was led to download my social media data, back it up and then delete my accounts. It was scary but it was freeing!
Since I do not have anything to log on to anymore or a feed to scroll on, my mind started to think of things that matter more. It has only been two days but I am able to spend more time in prayer now. My impulse to check my phone for status updates became an impulse to bring my phone down and pray instead. The lesser I looked into the world, the more I am able to fix my eyes on Jesus. Praise God!
Yesterday, I was even led to pray for and draft plot a 6-month plan (July to December 2019) for personal ministry. All glory to God! ❤️
Cover Photo by Prateek Katyal on Unsplash