No more notifications.
This was my Lent ‘fasting’ period. For this year’s lent, I knew what I had to abstain from. Social Media. Funny how a dino mama like me can be hooked on social media? It all began with this blog. GrowingHearts123.
I became more techy after learning the ropes slowly on blogging and using social media to spread my blog’s reach. It started only with my Facebook Page. From 20+ friends who followed me, it grew to 300 odd over these years. All these while, it was a trickling effect where growth was organic. Meaning not paid to advertise my page. This choice and slow growth kept me humbly grounded and thankful for the gradual support from readers.
Recently, I started getting the hang of using Instagram. I had opened the account donkey years ago but stopped. Due to my busy schedule ever since I started working, my blogging also scaled down to once a month or whenever I have the mood to do so. Therefore, I decided to restart my engine by posting photos on instagram. It is convenient and easy to snap any interesting shot and post.
I did just that. Daily. I began to note that followers grew fast and there was much more interaction in this media than Facebook. Weirdest thing? I started doing short clips of how I taught E chinese and it received interest from people. It felt great to finally have more response from followers. To know more about others. No longer a one-sided sharing from my blog or Facebook. I really enjoy the online ‘interaction’.
Just one Big Problem. It was taking up a lot of my attention. I was constantly distracted and checking the notifications from my instagram and facebook. That was when I knew this habit was overtaking me. For Lent, it took a lot from me to surrender my social me-dear to the Lord. I needed help. The Lord directed me to whatsapp a dear sister in Christ to be accountable in this period. We also did a prayer exchange daily to encourage each other and intercede for others. Through her encouragement, I was spurred on.
I decided to go cold turkey in the weekdays and allowed only Friday evenings to start posting on weekends. Initially, I started having withdrawal symptoms like having this gnawing urge to just log in and check my stuffs. It was until I purposefully replaced my ‘down’ time with communicating with God (prayer), and allowing His scriptures to sink into my soul that drove all those temptations away. I have trained my kids to give me some ‘timeout’ in my own room whenever I step home from work. This helps me to shower, rest and reframe my mind to coach them in their studies. Instead of my usual social media indulgence, I placed my phone in the room and started scripture illustrating outside. You see, abstaining from whatever it is- food/caffeine/social media, is not the point. It is how we use the time, the energy and attention to be redirected back to the Lord Jesus himself that matters.
I observed the difference between weekdays and weekends. Please excuse me for spamming your feeds during weekends. There was a significant change in me. I was more ‘present’ with my kids and less easily angered by their misbehaviour. My concentration span also increased as I spent time illustrating God’s words, He spoke much louder and deeper to my spirit. I was able to plan my meals better and had more energy in my daily routines. It was refreshing to be fully focused in whatever I do.
Slowly and surely, social me-dear was taking a back seat and I slowly reshifted to what is truly Dear. I guess this will tend to be a struggle for us public bloggers and public instagrammers etc? God renewed my mind and heart with regards to this issue I was struggling below.
As I thought of how to illustrate these verses, social media is brought to mind. After blogging, I realised that it is always a temptation to compare how many followers or likes others have. It really doesn’t matter how many your number is. 2, 200, 2000, or even 20k. Somehow, the heart still wants more. I also noticed that for instagram, the volatility of followers is high. One moment someone follows you but the next moment you lose a few. It is indeed a curse if I place my faith in man’s following per say. Now I try not to pay attention to the number game. I just focus on posting beneficial sharing. And only follow those I genuinely wish to follow. Talk about following- I follow JESUS. Not relying on my own strength nor dependent on man’s likes. I am content in whatever the Lord portions for me to care and share. Some have bigger portion, some have smaller ones. What is that to me or you? 😊 Let’s just follow JESUS!
This Lent period of fasting, cleansed me from an unconscious ‘idol’ in my life and drew me closer to what I had missed dearest ~
Times of refreshing in God’s presence.
‘Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord He is my refuge and fortress, my God whom I trust.’
My mentor once said that If only we walk under the Shadow of His wings, then we will be able to enjoy the shelter God provides. This suddenly made a visually impressive image. The closer my relationship with God, the greater the covering and protection. We must walk in His will, where ever His spirit leads, so that we can always dwell in His shelter. It is an active decision and action in our lives. The sun will be scorching if I choose to go out of step from His shadow. Here is an illustration of the shadow of His hands. Another image also came to mind- what if we choose to seek shelter in the world e.g. a tree instead of following the eagle’s wings? I guess I will miss out on the journey of intimacy with our saviour’s guidance….
I had a 感动 in one of the week as I read ps 46: 1 – 11.’God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.’ Ps46:1 ends with ps46:10 ‘ Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ It speaks of how in calamity or trouble, we just need to seek refuge from our Father and Be still to trust in His help. This moved me to draw inspiration from my lovely sculptures gifted from friends.
As a mother, I can continually entrust our family unto the mighty maker’s hands no matter what shortcomings or training we are working at… for those who have broken dreams, I pray that God’s hand would be that source of strength and comfort as you lay down all unto his loving balm of healing palm. For those whose wishes and dreams have yet to come true, may you also find steady comfort abiding in His hands. Cease to struggle alone, rest and be still. Let’s trust in His Almighty strength.
For more explanation of these illustrations, click on the instagram link.
As I drew, I also drew nearer to God. The below is my Valentine’s Day gift from my hubby. I was glad I had captured them before they wilted and this painting now stands in our bedroom, reminding me of how precious our love is! This is another major Dear I want to treasure.
During this period, I also took time to remember and illustrate for the young adults placed in our charge. Taking time to pray for the individuals and growing together with them in this journey of faith.
WIth my limited capacity, whatever the Lord places in my heart to illustrate, I will gladly do so. Somehow, this period of expressing God’s words with my art, kindled a new growth in me. I actually dislike drawing as it takes a LOT Out of me. During this phase of my life, I am slowly appreciating such bite-sized artistic expressions. It is also something that I think i should use to bless others with at the appropriate time. I will not be able to draw for all my friends, but as the Lord leads, I hope to do.
To conclude, I wish to share that I will limit my time in social media to mid-week and end of the week posting till I become more centred in Christ. It is not my intention to stop all social media, but rather to learn self-control in all things given. Thank you for the support given all these while sharing GrowingHearts’ life journey!
To end, this video on Our Generation summed up, drives the point poignantly. No apps can replace ‘job satisfaction’ or ‘strength of relationships’. If we are not careful, our real life face to face social relationships will suffer if we try to replace social (virtual) Me-Dear with our Real Dears. Above all, may we take time to nurture our relationship with Jesus, the risen saviour.
Do you have an unconscious ‘idol’ struggles? How do you cope with it?
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