I struggled with the title of this post. What I initially typed out was “I Quit”…because that’s what I want to say I’ve done. But that sounds so final. And I can’t exactly claim to be done with it. I might be back one day. I just don’t know at this point. And then I typed out “Enough” which seemed more fitting because “I’ve had enough” and I want Jesus to be “enough”…but still not what I was looking for.
So what am I talking about exactly? What have I “quit” and what have I had “enough” of and how does that relate to my actual title of “Soul Clutter”?
Some love it. Some loathe it. Some use it sporadically.
I’ve written about it before and how I wanted to cut back….and I did for awhile. And I will say right up front what I enjoy most about social media is the sharing of ideas. I really enjoy seeing IG/FB posts of Christmas decor and coffee shops, and cute outfits, and kids first day of school pictures, and faraway places I may never see in person and and and…so many good things.
Then there’s my list of things that I do not enjoy about social media. How it sucks you in and seems to somehow oddly pull you down. How unproductive I feel after I’ve spent 20+ minutes just “checking one thing”. How social media claims to “connect” us…but we all seem to be having difficulty maintaining authentic relationships in this day in age and culture. I actually feel fairly unconnected to about 90% of people I’m friends with on social media…and those are the people I personally know. The people I follow on IG I’ve never met…well, you can figure that out. How it’s constant stream of information, snippets of peoples lives, mind-numbing videos and time-wasting nonsense that many of us are now addicted to…our brains crave the news feed and have difficulty focusing and following through. How I feel about social media is not even something I can entirely explain with words…its like my soul is so deeply effected I can’t even describe it. But here’s the best I’ve come up with: unfocused, fatigued, agitated, unsettled-ness gnawing on me while joy is almost no where to be found. How did I come to this conclusions you might ask.
I’ve been listening to Emily P. Freeman’s podcast the past couple months and her short, calming posts have grabbed my heart and my heads attention. She talks a lot about needing “white space” and how so many of us are walking around with what she refers to as “soul clutter”. The first time I heard her say those words “soul clutter” I cried. I’d been looking for a way to describe how I felt, and that hit the nail on the head. And one of her most recent episodes is titled “Quit Something”. Even before I heard the post, I knew my “something” was Social Media. And after I listened to it, I did some soul digging.
Over the past few years our family has gone through some very significant changes and painful situations. I don’t think I’ve realized until these past few months how much we were effected by it all. What took the biggest hit was my joy. And who was effected most? My husband and two oldest. But mostly the kids. Thinking over the past 2 years, possibly longer, I’ve been majorly lacking in the joy department. So I started thinking back to when I felt like a joyful spouse and parent. Now I know my difficult pregnancy with Elliot and Jeslyn was 100% God’s plan and in the end it obviously has turned out well…but when I look back my big shift was soon after I started having all the issues with them/pregnancy. Then we left our church in our small Ohio town and “church-shopped” for months and ended up at one an hour north of our home. And then I was hospitalized for 4 weeks. And then we put our Ohio house on the market…while E&J were in the NICU. And then they came home and Jessie’s casting process began. And then we moved to Kansas City. And Nathan started a new job. And then we moved again after we bought a house on the other side of the city. All of those events which happened between January 2015 and March 2016 were simply part of life and part of God’s plan for our family. But yet through it all I became increasingly more agitated with my older two and my desire to be around them and enjoy them plummeted. I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know how to fix it…so we just continued in this lack-luster home life.
As I look back over the past 2 years, I’m grieved by my lack of joy in this kids God has loaned to us. I know in my head they are not an inconvenience, but I often treat them that way. I do not see their squabbles, struggles, and sin as opportunities to give them the gospel. I see it as a personal attack on me as the parent and an upheaval in my day. How dare they disobey and disrupt MY busy schedule by needing instruction and discipline. And then at the end of the day I would beat myself up and feel ashamed for how I did not point them to Jesus by yelling Bible verses at them to get them to obey. (I cringe as I type that…but it’s true.) It’s been a daily vicious cycle.
What does this all have to do with social media? To be honest…I’m not really sure. But as I look back to all the external circumstances that have effected my attitude, my heart, my soul…I came to this conclusion: I cannot change the fact that we really had no church community during our rough Ohio days, I cannot change that E&J were born and are two extra people for me to care for and teach and train, and I cannot change that we moved…but what has been the constant thing in my life in the past 2 years that I can change? Social Media. I truly believe that it is causing some major soul clutter in me and THAT is something I CAN change.
I’ve fasted from Social Media before but this time it’s different. I’m drawing battle lines and asking the Holy Spirit to help me reclaim His joy. This time it’s not just something good to do…I think it’s a dire need for my soul and my family for me to unplug. And like I said at the beginning, I might be back one day…and I might not. I will tell you, I’ve been “off the grid” since Monday and haven’t looked back. I’ve already felt a huge weight lift and I’m not feeling unsettled like I was. I haven’t been as short-tempered with my kids and I don’t feel as unfocused. I think that says something right there.
So what exactly does this mean for blogging? Because technically that’s social media. Yes. And no. It’s “social” and it’s “media” but reading a few of my favorite blogs doesn’t seem to crowd my soul like an IG or FB newsfeed does. And if the Lord has me give this up, ok. I’ll submit. I definitely don’t want to be adding to the noise and chatter for sure. I’m looking into a few apps that post content onto social media outlets for you, but I’m still processing how that would work and if that’s something I should do.
I’m still active on Pinterest and Bloglovin’ because those are useful to me (ideas!) and I’ve decided to use timers for when I’m just browsing. And you can always get ahold of me on good old fashioned email. And ok, when did email become old fashioned?! But we all kind of think it is, right?! I was thinking today about how I used to get all these annoying forwards about “this is the cutest thing you’ll see all day! OPEN NOW!” Or “This is for all my fav gals, You’re all so special to me” and you had to scroll thru ALLLLLL the email addresses before you got to the actual message and there was usually some kind of dancing graphic or glittery smiley face…we don’t get those anymore do we? Nope. Because it’s all moved to FACEBOOK! Haha! Or when we wanted to know what our friends were up to not even 10 years ago….we had to CALL THEM. ON THE PHONE. Listening to each other’s VOICES. Cray.Zee. I mean when I was a kid our home phone rang like 10 times a day at least! Now, my kids don’t even know HOW to talk on the phone. They keep wanting to look at the screen. Parenting. Fail. Makes me want to give a “back when I was a kid” talk….but I won’t 😉 Anyways I find those kinds of things interesting. And saddening too.
I’m not trying to start an anti-social media revolution or a movement or a riot or anything…I just want to be joyfully present for my family for as long as it takes. I recently purchased the sign that sits on the shelf above our bed (see the featured picture) and I just love that saying…in the end I won’t remember awesome posts or that time I sat scrolling through Facebook sitting poolside while my kids played…we were together…I forget the rest <3
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Thanks for reading, and as always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.