7 Gifts from My Facebook Fast

7 Gifts from My Facebook Fast

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This past Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I fasted from Facebook and other media including newspapers, magazines, and TV in order to spend more time in prayer. I broke the fast only to watch a movie with my boys on Saturday night.

My primary motivation was to listen for divine guidance in my role as a voter, and to pray for our nation. This year’s primaries have jostled my nerves like never before, and I wanted to shut off the political loudspeakers and let what I’d already heard digest a bit. I figured that doing so would rid my head of static. I was right. But there were even more gifts from my fast than I’d expected.

Gift 1 – Freedom from the encumbrance of others’ views.
Democracy is based on the idea that every person’s voice matters. But it’s easy to forget that when we’re drowning in the latest sound bites, which fail to convey the totality of the political picture. To make reasonable decisions, we have to weigh facts and presentations against our own experiences and values. Doing that in an echo chamber is nearly impossible. Over the last three days, silence allowed me to hear the voice I should when I enter the voting booth – my own.

Gift 2 – Closeness to the people who really matter.
While being informed and voting is important in a democracy, I need to keep this civic responsibility in proper perspective.

If I’m trying to live in accordance with the plan I believe God has for me, I need to consider at all times my sphere of influence. Some people may connect with thousands. Me? So far in my life, I’m called to serve only a few. My position as a wife, mother, or community member may seem small on an average day, but what I do is critical and irreplaceable. It deserves my full attention.

So, liberated from distractions, I was free to love the people entrusted to my care better. I studied their eyes. Listened – to what they weren’t saying in words. Touched them. Gave and received hugs. Held hands.

Physical closeness matters – to them, and to me. When I think of who is really “there” for me – in the flesh with me, in good times and in bad – it’s these people. And they won’t be with me forever. Best to wrap my arms around them now.

Gift 3 – An increased sensitivity to my own emotions.
My daughter is an Irish dancer, and she and her school were invited to perform multiple times over the weekend at Irish Fests and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. I’m usually rushing to get her to these events, and then feeling a bit anxious when she heads out on stage, thinking about details such as whether her wig will stay put, shoes stay tied, and smile stay fixed if she slips on an unfamiliar floor. None of this has happened to her yet. But still – I worry.

On Sunday, I had a perfect seat to stage left and because of my fasting, noticed that I was able to focus on her dancing. I saw the muscles in her legs working in time to the Celtic beats, the sparkle in her eyes as she surveyed the room. Dancing gives my daughter joy. And without the extra noise in my head, I could share that joy with her. I could feel it in my gut.

Gift 4 – A deeper understanding of the value of time.
Truly, only God knows how much time I have. And how much I’ve wasted scrolling through photos of cute babies and puppies I’ll never meet in person. Or reading articles that just made me angry or sad. Countless hours. It’s silly, even stupid, when I consider that there’s no way of knowing if today is the last day of my life.

Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.

-Psalm 90:12

I learned to change this verse to a prayer.

Help me to live as if each day is numbered, so that I can gain wisdom as to how to spend my time.

A few hours into my fast, I knew that if I were given just a handful of days, I sure wouldn’t spend them on Facebook.

Gift 5 – More laughter.
I’m not an overly serious person, but no one would call me jocular. What I find funny often depends on my frame of mind. For example, when our family is eating out, I expect the kids to behave. Tableside antics need to be kept to a minimum. But Sunday night, we were sitting in Jack’s Fortune chinese restaurant when my 6-year old draped a napkin across his head and deadpanned, “Here comes the bride.”

I laughed right along with everyone else. He’s developing his own sense of humor, test driving punchlines to check our reactions. I might have missed out if my mind had been on its usual wander.

Gift 6 – A reawakening to my own interests.
In the quiet of the past few days, I finished a novel, worked on a couple sewing projects, and made a Norwegian dish that I’d never cooked before. With a clear mind, I was savoring each activity, appreciating it for the satisfaction it brings. Sweet moments like these give life color, and they filled my heart with a sense of gratitude.

Gift 7 – A reminder to ‘take the long view.’
My oldest is 13 – a challenging age. My husband and I are seeking ways to understand the pressures our son is facing, and also to help him identify his strengths and weaknesses.

The three of us had a couple rich discussions this weekend, talks that I know will affect the man he’s to become. What we do and say today changes tomorrow’s picture, for better and for worse. I don’t want to waste precious opportunities to give my son a faith foundation for this life, and guidance on how he’s to prepare for the next.

In the silence of media-free days, I can hear the whisper of the One who helps me lead my children and explore the abundant life intended for us. I gain confidence that my voice really does count – with Him who reigns supreme.

And as for the candidates I’ve been ignoring temporarily, I will pray they receive the same gifts given to me. Because a deep, strong understanding of our proper and humble size compared to Him, is valuable in a public servant.

No Punching

“NO!” I yelled, a bit too forcefully. “That is NOT funny.”

I turned to face my little boy, whose eyes grew large with trepidation.

“We DON’T say things like that. We DON’T do that. EVER. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mommy. I’m sorry, Mommy.”

Admittedly, I was only half-listening moments earlier when he was telling me about a kid in his class who had been annoying him that day. He was reenacting the schoolroom scene with typical little kid smiles and giggles, and fantasizing about how he could respond, when suddenly he said, “And then I’d punch him in the face.”

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I try not to overreact to my kids being kids. But when a line is crossed, I want them to know they’ve crossed it, and violence is NOT funny. Left unchecked, childish dreams of handling situations with fists can slowly and subtly become acceptable possibilities. And until I can have rational discussions with them about self-defense and what might constitute a “just” war, they need to know that hitting someone is not OK. They need to learn self-control.

That said, I probably overreacted because I’m feeling a bit raw.

I don’t want to wade too far into political talk, here. I am not versed in government theory and feel rather inadequate amidst political discussions. But I do vote and therefore believe it is my responsibility to stay reasonably informed about issues affecting my community, state, and nation, and I have to say that this year I am more disheartened than ever before.

It all came to a head last night when I saw a clip of Donald Trump at a Nevada rally saying he would like to punch a protester. ‘I can’t believe this,’ I thought. ‘I just dealt with this here in my kitchen 4 days ago!!!’

Some would say Trump was just speaking off the cuff and didn’t really mean it, but I’m teaching my kids to mean what they say and – call me idealistic or overly-sensitive – I expect the same from a presidential candidate. This man’s behavior is decidedly un-presidential. It is childish.

Don’t think for a second I’m letting the other candidates off the hook. I’m falling back on my values of hard work, honesty, fairness, generosity, freedom, and goodwill to all people – regardless of age, race, gender, religion, income, or status – and I’m not finding anyone who should get my vote without me significantly compromising on the ideas I’m trying to instill in the 3 members of the future generation who live in my home. Instead, I see candidates who are appealing to an angry nation. And this is an even bigger problem.

People are angry. And under that anger, lies fear. Fear of the future. Of new laws. Of old laws being revised. Of new people. Of protected people becoming unprotected. The list goes on and on. As a nation, we are fearful of change – change in any direction.

Where do fear and anger reside? In the heart.

And what is the remedy? Divine intervention.

Scripture resonates with one message more than any other, and it is this: BE NOT AFRAID.

Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God.

I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice.  

-Isaiah 41:10

To find peace – freedom from fear and anger – it is up to each one of us to recognize that we are not in control. That we don’t even dictate the beating of our own hearts. That there is Something greater.

In recognizing this, we become aware. We develop an appropriate perspective. We become “right sized” in relation to this Greater Power, and we see the same relationship between other people and this Power as well.

The experience is humbling. It is also enriching. Because no longer do we look to other people as our saviors. Or our servants.

The uneasy truth of this life is that people – ALL people we will ever know – will let us down. Only the Something Greater – Someone Greater – could not.

Only a perfect God could promise that He would strengthen us, provide for us, and protect us. And the only way to really know Him, is to allow Him in.

“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”

-Revelation 3:20

How do we know that we’ve really allowed God into our hearts? No amount of adherence to earthly laws can confirm it. The evidence is found in the yield of our lives.

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy….[T]he fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envious of one another.

-Galatians 5:19-26

If we reap what we sow, we get what we deserve. And the roster of candidates represents our fruit.

Shame on us.

It is time to once again open wide the doors of our hearts. To humble ourselves and connect with Perfection. And to ask that He will forgive our failings and renew us – each of us – as individuals – once again.

 

For another article on Christian responsibility to critically view candidates positions, consider this:

Before Donald Trump, the sad history of when Christians anointed another political bully