The first thing I noticed when I logged off social media for Lent was how quiet things were. Without a barrage of information and opinions and news and analysis, suddenly the world seemed to shrink to a manageable size.
On Ash Wednesday the shooting in Parkland, Florida happened. I could picture Twitter in my mind, erupting with anger about another senseless tragedy, the need for greater gun control, the senators sending #thoughtsandprayers instead of offering policy solutions.
But instead of an incessant stream of outrage, instead I read the news and sat by the window as my sons napped. Without others telling me what I should think or feel, it took me awhile to figure out what I actually did think or feel.
Then it came. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Grief. Frustration. Exhaustion. Rage. Heartache.
I wasn’t sure what to do next. Often firing off a post on social media feels like actual action instead of just words, but without that forum I was forced to sit with just myself and Jesus. There was nothing to do in those moments but pray.
Perhaps that’s the first thing we should be doing all along.
I sat and prayed, holding the Parkland students and my own dear babies in my mind, in my heart, before the Lord.
Only one day into my Lenten fast, and God was already at work.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. I had no earthly idea what was going on with most of my extended friends and family (Has Stephanie had her baby yet? Is Alivia home from the hospital? WHO HAS A NEW PUPPY?!), and my reflexes typed http://www.Faceboo more times than I can count before I caught myself. I missed being in the loop and connected. I missed easy distraction.
But I gained myself again.
In Isaiah 30, the Lord speaks to the nation of Israel, wandering again, worshiping idols again, trying to earn their own favor again.
15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’
Therefore you will flee!
You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’
Therefore your pursuers will be swift!
17 A thousand will flee
at the threat of one;
at the threat of five
you will all flee away,
till you are left
like a flagstaff on a mountaintop,
like a banner on a hill.”
18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
Our salvation is not in our good works, our constant striving, our frenetic activity, our raucous noise. It is in quietness, in trust, in repentance, in rest.
We run from this. I know I do. The sin of distractions looms large, and it is always easier to find a digital pacifier than to deal with myself, my neighbor, and the clarion call of Christ to repentance.
With those easy diversions stripped away in this Lenten fast I discovered that the world keeps spinning without me being up on every Twitter spat and Facebook rant, and that I am infinitely better equipped to do the work God sets immediately before me than carry the weight of the world. I learned that comparing myself to others–pastors, writers, moms–is never the way of life. I learned that what matters most is being faithful in what God sets before me.
The work of God is often quiet and slow. And when we invite quietness and slowness to the routines of our lives, God’s good and holy work can begin to take root.
I’m back on social media now, but in a much more limited way. Like anything else, it is a tool. I’m hoping this season has helped me learn how to use it without letting it use me.
Have you ever fasted from social media? What did you learn?