Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Mission activated: for 21 days there would be no social media engagement.
No blocks, rants, retweets to get my POV across on Twitter. Not interested in the stories only created on Instagram and won’t pin any pictures on my Pinterest board. I went silent.
“That’s ridiculous.” an agnostic friend of mine said after I expressed my mission to him when, with 15 more days to go in the fast, I had run out of ways of saying I didn’t see the latest trending topic. “Of all times, during awards season?”
“Um, yeah. No wine either.” I replied.
Ironically, he didn’t realize he just called on a God he couldn’t justify, even after our many talks on faith. But my stance was a personal one; he didn’t have to understand it but had to respect it.
It wasn’t my first time being social media-silent for 21 days. Back in September I had the automatic-phone-reach withdrawals, tempted to click on a social media icon of choice at the hint of an alert, only putting the phone as far away as possible when I remembered my mission.
A few days into that fast, I got a dreaded call about a family member’s life hanging in the balance. I listened to medical updates as my relative was transported from one hospital to one that was the best in state. I served as the sounding board when the person on the other end of the phone needed to scream.
Not again. Not another loved one in three years. I needed my own sounding board, someone much greater than me. I cried out in worship and got real with God in prayer. I was tired of the bravado for others when it was just a mask for the grief I was yet to confront: My perceived unanswered prayers with each transition and the questions that linger afterwards.
The social media fast during my life’s pressure cooker became a necessity because unless the phone was a text from the hospital room, I wasn’t interested. I didn’t feel the need to input my two cents into culture’s latest controversy. I needed to focus on the truth of God’s word and the welcomed distraction of my work. Sometimes, I left a church service for the hospital room. God spared his life and this Christmas, was one of gratitude.
But this January’s fast was different since I didn’t have an apparent crisis. I only needed the social media noise muted in order to get a sense of next moves for the year and beyond. It was a little more difficult to avoid social media’s lure because there was no prayer of desperation but a decision to make time for prayer, if only to give thanks.
I discovered the scarce gift of time, not distracted with the several screen glances that could take me on a deep dive into another’s narrative. Instead, I engaged in real life conversations and was fully present without the withdrawal twitches as if stuck in a smartphone rehab. I focused on tasks without the notification alert that becomes an excuse for a break.
With seven days left in the fast, I had a moment of breakthrough during a visit with family. My godfather texted me from another room and my phone was somewhere in my purse. After almost an hour of silence, he was so concerned that he wheeled himself to see if everything was OK in the living room. I was more than OK. I was just learning in quietness and trust was my strength.
How did your #PrayFirst journey go? We’d love to hear from you as we document our experiences about our 21 days of prayer and fasting. Share your comments below or email them to email@example.com