8/15/15

A challenge to myself {and you!} ...


I LOVE Social Media. There, I've said it.  I'm a Facebook fanatic, a Pinterest pinner, an Instagram guru ... I enjoy my time on the computer.  We use social media to promote our businesses.  I use social media to {hopefully} encourage others in what God is teaching me. I have re-discovered many long lost friends {and even relatives} and made many new "friends".  Social media is NOT a bad thing! But, it's not always a good thing either.  Have you ever ended your endless scrolling to feel dissatisfied? Maybe your home isn't as beautiful as others. Your children certainly aren't as well-behaved, or as smart or as photogenic as so-and-so's. Your husband isn't as charming and romantic as "hers" is, and that's just what you see in your news feed.  What happens if you go even further and take some of those "quizzes" {Which TV/Movie character are you? How sexy are you? Are you a lover or a fighter? How popular are you? How evil is your Mother in law?}? Or how about reading some of the articles {Did you marry the right person? How to know if you should stay in your marriage! {really, mine didn't come with an escape clause}, Six signs your spouse doesnt' really love you ...} and on and on it goes. Suddenly {or subtly} your pretty good life, your blessed by God, and walking in His plan for your life life seems a little "less than". A little less than perfect, a little less content.  Your spouse, your children, your home, your financial situation, your job, your friends, your "security" is a little less than the guy next door {or down the street or across the country or around the world}.  Or, the opposite happens and you can begin to feel "puffed-up", your life surely is better than the person who ALWAYS complains in their status updates {you know the one!}, your "luck" has surely been better than theirs, your IQ is way above average {the quiz said so}, you ARE sexy and on and on!  Have you ever measured your "worth" by the number of "likes" and comments to your most recent post or photo? Have you posted to someone's page, hoping for a response, and getting none, therefore assuming "they must not really love me as much as I love them"? So, while social media {and all things associated with it} can be a good thing, it can also become a stumbling block and a monopolizer of our time!  What do you do when you have a few spare moments?  Are you like me?  When you are doing the following, do you do as I have been prone to do? 

*Waiting in line at the grocery store?
     Check Facebook
*Riding in the car?
     Pin a couple of projects on Pinterest
*Sitting in a waiting room?
     Scroll through Instagram
*Walk past my computer with a load of laundry?
     Forget the laundry and check for new Facebook notifications
*Between Sunday School and Church {or sadly, sometimes during}?
     Check my text messages
*Go to the bathroom?
     Check Facebook {again} ... C'mon, I know you've done it too!
*Take the dogs out?
     Scroll my Facebook newsfeed
*Feeling neglected, lonely, insecure?
     Pin a few more projects on Pinterest

I think you get where I'm going with this by now! When I'm happy, sad, bored, procrastinating or feeling lonely, I gravitate toward social media. When I should be spending time with my family, loving on others, serving God or studying His Word, I often go first {or instead} to social media. When I want to feel better about myself, run away from the responsibilities at hand, or just plain don't want to do the task that is before me, I turn to social media.  

Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, e-mail, texting, my computer, they all have their place.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with any of them. But ... I am asking you, as I've had to ask myself, how much time is being devoted to {them} vs. how much time is being devoted to God's Word and time with Him, to furthering His kingdom, to loving on my family, to being present IN REAL LIFE, not virtually connected to my 1065 "friends" on Facebook, my 304 fellow pinners and my 299 Instagram followers? How often are my eyes on my computer screen or my phone when they should be seeing God's beauty around me, my loving {or hurting} family member, the needs of those in my family, my church, my community ..... I know that I have had my priorities out of order for some time. I know that my "screen time" far outweighs my God time, and my "in-real-life" relationship time. I know something has to change!

How different would {life} look if instead of the list above this is what I did?

*Waiting in line at the grocery store?
     Encourage the struggling mom with 3 toddlers in line behind me - maybe 
     even let her go in front of me
*Riding in the car?
     Listen to uplifting Christian music, read a book related to my walk with 
     Christ {or read it to my husband so we can both enjoy/benefit}
*Sitting in a waiting room?
     Quietly look around the room, saying a prayer for others who are also            waiting {it doesn't matter if I know their needs, God does!}
*Walk past my computer with a load of laundry?
     Fold the laundry, and put it away, thanking God for the fact that I have a 
     washer and dryer, and a family whose clothes get dirty and need washing
*Between Sunday School and Church {or sadly, sometimes during}?
     Connect with someone who is PRESENT at church, someone I don't usually
     talk to, but may need my encouragement and prayers
*Go to the bathroom?
     Go to the bathroom {novel idea, I know!}
*Take the dogs out?
     Enjoy the beauty of the outdoors, use my camera to capture that beauty,        or just enjoy being outside with "my furry girls"
*Feeling neglected, lonely, insecure?
     Grab my Bible, find a quiet corner and pour my heart out to God, re-              discover all His promises to me, and remind myself that in Him, I'm always      loved or love on someone else .... taking the focus off of me, me, me            usually curbs those feelings of neglect, loneliness & insecurity pretty              quickly

This morning, I shared the following on my Instagram and Facebook {sigh} 

"Lord, help me to seek You {first} but also {most}! Shut out the clamor of the world and its promises of fulfillment in anything but you! May I not seek fame, fortune, contentment, peace or love in anything outside of You. You promise so much more than anything this world can offer, help me not to forget that as I go through my day! Amen. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God..." Matthew 6:33
Such a good reminder ... where or with who or what do I devote more time? Is it to loving and serving God, spending time with Him and in His Word and following Him, or is more time devoted to checking my Facebook newsfeed, making sure I'm "up" on the latest "news"? Am I devoted to following Him first or am I following the latest trends on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter, or just wasting time on my computer? I long to be more intentional with my time and to put more focus on "Kingdom work" than on storing up treasures here on earth! "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth ... where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21"

This really is my desire!  I want to seek HIM first, to serve my family second, to use the wonder of social media to encourage others to seek after Christ. My challenge to myself, and to you is to SET SOME BOUNDARIES!  

The challenge, should you accept means that you'll strive to FIRST seek Christ and His way for your life!  SECONDLY, you'll strive to serve and love on your family, your friends and all the "in-real-life" people that God puts in your path on a daily basis!  You will strive to seek out human {not virtual} relationships and live like "Jesus with skin on" to those present around you!  You'll set some boundaries that are appropriate for you {I've un-installed Facebook and Messenger from my phone - I can still access it, but now it's not just the "one click" app, and I'm not receiving a constant barrage of notifications! This makes me stop and think before I "check in"}.  You may need to set aside a specific time of day and a time limit for catching up with social media accounts and maybe times of the day that you actually shut off those electronic devices so you can be intentional about being PRESENT in the lives of those you love, and those who love you!  Maybe you'll check e-mails and Facebook messages at 8:00 a.m., noon and 8:00 p.m. and you'll only answer those that need your immediate attention. Maybe you'll only answer those texts or voice mails that REQUIRE action on your part.  I'm not sure what battles you face in this area, only you know that, but I challenge you to seek God's face, ask Him to show you where you've neglected those who live with you and around you in favor of "virtual" relationships, and that you then strive to make changes that will draw you closer to Him, and to those that really matter, your God, your family and the "real" {not the "virtual"} community that He has placed you in!  

If you are "in" ... let me know, so we can do this together!  Let me know how i can pray for you and encourage you! Let's strive to use social media FOR God's glory, not our own satisfaction and escape from real life!

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