Daring to Disconnect

Photo Credit: Shtte Fan

Photo Credit: Shtte Fan

It feels good to be writing again. And it feels even better being away from Facebook and Instagram. You might remember I took a little pause from social media during Advent and throughout Christmas. And once the new year arrived I realized I didn’t miss it one bit.

This wasn’t my first time disconnecting from the social media world. I had been offline for a few years before I began blogging for Mother’s Prayer Companion. And after just one year of plugging back in, I quickly remembered why I had wanted to unplug in the first place.

And yes, there is some good fruit to be found on social media, but for me personally, the good never outweighs the rotten.

If I’m honest, I use social media as an escape, like taking a smoke break or eating a Snickers bar. It’s a mindless, unhealthy habit that distracts me from whatever is right in front of me.

Why do I have this ambivalent relationship with social media?

A part of me doesn’t want anything to do with social media, yet it feels like I have to be “on it” in order be connected.

Why can’t I just keep in touch with some people, but not feel like I’m living with or through them?

My friend’s college aged son said it in another way, after he deleted Instagram from his phone, “I just don’t need to know that much about other people’s lives.”

Getting “offline” in December was intended to be my Advent fast, allowing me to prepare my heart for Christmas - for Christ’s birth. And during that time, what I found was freedom.

When I’m disconnected from social media, I don’t feel left out. There isn’t anyone I miss. My friends and family are still my friends and family. And the world continues to go around whether I am “on it” or not.

So, if I had already known I don’t like social media, then why had I put myself in this position again? It’s because in 2018 I began blogging for the Mother’s Prayer Companion. I wanted to share something that I loved so much with the people in my life. I wanted to tell the world about the MPC and what the Lord had had done in my life through prayer.

I spent most of last year feeling conflicted. How do I promote this amazing and good thing without the use of social media? How do I share with other moms the power of prayer without using Facebook and Instagram as my bullhorn?

Despite my internal discord, Jenny and I forged onwards. We educated ourselves in social media marketing. We learned tips for how to grow our audience, increase likes, double our followers, and how to get a post to go viral. We learned the secrets of why we should post on certain days of the week and even the best times to post. The goal was to implement these strategies in order to increase our online presence and community.

Yet somewhere during the past year, I got sucked into the lies that I was working so desperately to dispel in others. I found myself yet again addicted to being liked.

But I kept on justifying my behavior, because it was “for the ministry”. I would quickly respond to someone in our online groups because they “needed me.” Yet what no one of our followers saw was this mom staring at my screen, while my child (or my husband) watched me, longing for my attention.

A child looks to her mom and hopes to see her own reflection. Through her mother’s eyes, a child comes to see who she truly is. Yet when I was in the thick of my social media marketing, my children stopped seeing themselves in my eyes, they only saw the reflection of my glowing screen glaring back at them.

I was not made to mother this way - I was made for more.

I cringe remembering the time I hissed at one of my children, who was begging for my attention, to wait because I had to “check something.” Honestly, I was checking to see how many likes one of my MPC posts had received.

I’m sharing this, because I know I’m not alone.

And if we are going to grow as a community of Jesus loving mothers, then we have to shed light on the areas that most of us want to remain hidden.

I confess that over the past twelve months, I spent so much time blogging, posting, and sharing about prayer that I actually nearly stopped doing it myself.

Because of the beautiful message Jenny shared about being made new again, I too want to renew myself this new year.

So, I’m doing something radical. I’m going to spend 2019 doing what I love, which is inspiring, empowering and building up moms (and dads) through my own experiences. I will continue to write and blog, but I am not getting back on social media.

I am taking everything I have learned about building an audience and letting it go. I am daring to disconnect in order to reconnect with my husband, my children,  my loved ones, and yes, even myself.

I’ve discovered that I don’t want to build an audience. I want to build up the kingdom, His Kingdom.

Friends, I’m not after your likes. I’m after your hearts.

I’ve asked myself a really hard question, which I encourage each of you to do the same.

Do I trust the Lord with every ounce of my life, or do I only trust Him with some?

And the message I was reminded of was this, I am destined to perform for an audience of One. In other words, I don’t need to build an audience or perform for my “friends” and social media circles.

If being a lonesome blogger, who doesn’t self promote, means only having One faithful Reader - then to Him be praised! If only one person is impacted by my message, then I have done the work that has been laid before me.

In living my mission as a wife, mom and follower of Jesus Christ, I desire to live radically. I want to live a life worthy of being called a disciple of Jesus. And the first disciples were fanatics! I too want to be ready to drop everything to follow Him, and to cast my net where He tells me to.

I’m a radical Jesus loving, suburban dwelling, sweatpants wearing, stay-at-home wife and mom who just wants to spread the good news - one blog post at a time.

I am renewing my commitment to prayer, to trusting in the Lord, and to you, dear friend.

Lord, I trust you - I give this new year to you. I pray that my ways become more aligned with Yours. Set me free from doubt, comparison, and lack.

Renew me.

Reconnect me.

Redirect me.

Refine me.

Stef Blackwell

Stef Blackwell and her husband are raising their four kids and living the dream deep in the heart of suburbia, Flower Mound, TX. She’s a raging choleric and high functioning introvert, which some have said is impossible. But alas, here she lives to tell her tale. Her greatest strength is bossing people around; her greatest weakness is she bosses people around - and Jesus loves her just the way she is - today. She looks for the one mama who is standing alone and strives to bring them into the fold. God has given her a passion for marriage, motherhood, and living missionally.