Forty-seven: the name given to this freshly opened document because of the many, MANY opened, unnamed and forgotten documents that preceded it. But this number is child’s play compared to unread emails in my inbox. It’s four digits. There I said it. “Hi, my name is Chelsey and I have an inbox issue.” I mean, 99% of them are junk mail, but if you have been waiting to hear from me since like 2014, well, now you know why.
Completing a whole thought is a struggle these days. I feel my mind is swimming with 100 new ideas and 5 minutes to capture them. And instead of creating good rhythms and space to think and breathe and write and pray, in the overwhelm, I tend to blurt out thoughts, resort to more tangible tasks or numb out on social media.
I’m a doer. I like to feel productive and active. Sitting down to read a book can feel like a waste of time when there is a post to share or a dish to wash. This face-paced, oober-connected, sound byte world we live in seems to fit me well. I have a bookshelf full of incredible resources— filled with decades of knowledge— but I often resort to scrolling Instagram or Facebook. I want the good stuff, but I want it fast. I schedule 30 minutes of my morning to spend with Jesus, but I end up pressing snooze 3 too many times and scanning a quick devotional, missing that sacred morning silence. I want intimacy with my Savior but try to rush it.
Why the hurry? What’s the rush?
I recently discovered the Netflix show Call the Midwife (shout out to all the other groupies!). There is something about this show, which feels more like reading a slow novel, that deeply moves me and leaves me hoping that when the show ends and my laptop closes there will be a simpler life awaiting me. The show is set in a poor neighborhood in 1950’s London, and I’m drawn to each teatime and patient, persistent, IN PERSON friendship. There are a million things I could say about this show, but mostly it’s slow moving story lines and spotlight on a simpler time have been undoing me.
The other night when the show ended my mind was racing with ways to slow down life’s pace—to make time for silence and stillness and letter writing and teatimes. A recent and thoughtful question from a dear friend popped into my mind, “What distracts you from spending time with Jesus?” I looked down at my hands clutching the finger-printed rectangular device. I didn’t even have to think of an answer— I knew it before the question left her mouth. My mind has a habit of drifting …who has seen my latest posts…did they like it? Share it? Comment? Did any one interact with my recent IG video?! What is this or that author up to? And so mid-conversation, in the middle of mealtimes, in the midst of a serious session of “house” with my 3-yr old, I make time for scrolling.
Each time I try to ditch social media, I come crawling back (see AIG’s failed social media fast of 2017….). I feel I NEED to be tethered to its constant motion to stay up-to-date on all the things in order to pursue this passion of writing and further the ministry I feel called to. It feels like a requirement to post a minimum of 10 daily Instagram videos to be a player in this space. It feels exhausting.
As I grappled with the obligation to something that doesn’t feel healthy, the craziness of it all showed its true, ugly colors. In this season I know the cons of social media, for me, outweigh the pros. I know it isn’t necessarily helpful or healthy—so there must be another, more simple way.
I want to trade in the speed race for the slow ride.
I want to take the time to think out a thought before sharing it with the world. I want to read the whole book and not just the pretty quote someone shared from it. I want to spend my days and moments pursuing lovely things instead of numbing, habitual things. I want to use social media for staying connected to people instead of using it to fill the silent spaces in my day.
My intentions with social media start out well meaning, but it becomes this thing that has ahold of me. This is not a guilt trip. Your story does not have to be my story. I realized social media was taking more than it was giving me in this season, and I am choosing to *mostly* step away.
What I have decided to do for a few months is write one post per week, usually on Thursday, on my actual blog (how archaic!) I will share it on Alive in Grace’s Facebook and Instagram, but that will be all for the week. (I wanted to attempt a weekly letter that came to you physical mailbox, but… logistics. Maybe someday!)
This will force me to sit on thoughts and ideas instead of pressing POST five minutes after the idea comes into my head. My hope is that it will force me to be more thoughtful and creative and prayerful in each thing I write. My prayer is that I will again tune my ears to my surroundings and the whispers of the Spirit in the silence, instead of reaching for an object to scroll.
So here are a few ways to follow this journey…
1) Check out AliveInHisGrace.com for weekly posts on Thursdays.
2) Sign up for my newsletter on my website.
I’ll leave you with this challenge… Is there anything in your life that doesn’t feel healthy? Anything you are doing because everyone is doing it? What is stealing your quiet times? What is causing you anxiety? What is distracting you from creating? Ask God to help you recognize what this might be, and then invite His grace to help you walk away. Life is too short to live distracted.