February 11, 2019


Following an invitation from my church, I decided to fast for a week in late January. When my pastor first invited the church body to pick something to fast from for a week, I dismissed the suggestion because I couldn't think of something to fast from.

But then I thought back to all of my friends who fasted from social media, or who take a regular sabbath from social media and couldn't think of a reason not to do give it a shot myself. 

That's not to say that I didn't pridefully think for a moment that I didn't need to do it because I didn't consider myself addicted to social media. 

So I prayed over the decision and knew that my pride was the exact reason why I needed to fast from social media--because if anything, it would be something that I could say I've finally done, something I've challenged myself to do, and something else that I let go of in 2019. 

On Sunday night, I removed the Facebook tab from my Chrome browser and I logged out of Instagram and Facebook on my phone. 

Bright and early Monday morning, I found myself laying in the dark, soaking up the last few moments of peace and quiet in before crawling out of bed. But I paused for a moment. Typically, I mindlessly open up my email, my Facebook, and then my Instagram feeds before getting out of bed. But without either social media app on my phone, I was left wondering what I should do. My finger hovered over both apps and then scrolled to the next page and opened up the Bible app instead. 

I remember a friend told me during one of her social media fasts that she swapped her social media app location on her phone with the Bible app instead. And I was humbled to realize that I was keeping the Bible app on the second page of apps instead of the first. So I swapped them out and opened up the Bible app instead--discovering a wealth of devotionals that I could read instead of the captions and posts by online influencers.

Throughout the first few days, I honestly didn't miss social media at all. I thought that I would have a serious case of FOMO by not catching up or staying up-to-date with friends and family, but it was actually kind of nice to take a break and get away from it all. 

But I was shocked at how often I'd mindlessly unlock my phone and click onto the apps without even realizing what I was doing. 

I was also shocked to discover that this mindless tapping and scrolling was really done in an attempt to disrupt and quickly fill up time, stillness, peace, and pauses in life to appear or feel busy and consumed. 

The funny thing is, the longer I spent away from social media, the less I missed it--and so one week turned into two, then three, then almost four.

The fast forced me rethink how and when I use my phone and it's convicted me to be much more aware and intentional about how and when I unlock it. On a typical workday, I'd open up social media before work and then will be on social media here and there until I go to bed. And what I didn't realize was how all those spare moments quickly added up. During the fast, however, I actually had time write, read, learn, and dig into my hobbies--and it was the exact time that I had been craving for these hobbies and passions of mine. 

My goal from here on out is to take regular sabbaths from social media (and I know it'll be easier to do them now that I've done it for an entire week!). To keep my Bible app front and center. To not feel that obligation to stay updated on my friends like I used to. And to not open up social media until after I get out of bed in the mornings (and maybe not even until I get home from work?). 

And to be honest, I'm okay with not being on social media daily anymore. A month without it was so good for me--it was refreshing and re-energized this weary heart of mine. I don't get that weird panicky feeling when I'm not "caught up" and my life actually feels fuller without it because I'm not constantly engaging in the comparison game (even if I just "play it" without thinking) or feeling left out because my life isn't picture perfect.

I'm still navigating what this shift will truly look like--and I know I'll need to give myself grace for any slip-ups I'll have, but I also know that there's so much life in the present moment, so many people outside of my phone, and so much of God that's yet to be discovered, if I only take a moment to look around and see it in front of me. 

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© IN ITS TIMEMaira Gall