Today I'm linking up with Emily P. Freeman and reflecting upon the things that I learned this past summer. It's a time when a community of bloggers share the things that they are learning whether silly, sacred, serious, or practical. You can read what other bloggers learned over at Emily's website.
I was journaling the other day and reflecting upon what God has been teaching me and what I learned this summer, and I was amazed by how much a person can learn and grow in a short amount of time.
I'm sharing today about the things that I learned this summer and would love to hear some of the things that you learned as well!
Here it goes...
1. Decorating a House Takes Time
When it comes to decorating (and most areas of life), I struggle with impatience. When I look at a blank wall, I feel a mix of anxiety and excitement, wanting all at once to figure out how to perfectly decorate the space and not knowing where to begin. It takes time and patience to decorate a space when you have boundaries financially, and that is okay. I'm learning to be okay with Brandon's and my new apartment not being "put together" yet, and I'm learning how to have patience in the process.
2. How To Navigate New York City Transportation
Between Brandon's and my anniversary and a trip with a friend, I had two opportunities this summer to navigate NYC transportation. Now that Brandon and I only live an hour and a half plus a quick train ride away, we've been thankful for the opportunity to travel to New York to explore when we can. And now, we can navigate the Metro, which is something I never thought I would know how to do. It was a small victory to take the Metro from Central Park to Greenwich village to go to Do (the edible cookie dough place) with my friend.
3. Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Break From Your Phone
This summer, I took multiple weeklong breaks from my phone and even took time away from social media. Friends, there is life when your phone is off and your social media apps are deleted for a time. In fact, taking time away from my phone and social media gave me time to think and pray and prioritize and actually care better for the people in my life that I love.
I think I'm going to start taking a week off from social media every season moving forward as a helpful reset and regularly taking time away from my phone throughout the week. You can read more about what I learned from time away from my phone (Consecrating Our Phones To the Lord and When Your Phone Changes You) and even from my social media fast (Social Media, Vanity, and Abundant Life).
4. Confessing Sin Leads Fellowship With God and With Others
I spent most of the summer, thinking about 1 John 1 and thinking through how to grow in my fellowship with God and with others. This chapter has impacted my life in significant ways and has proven true as I have repented from sin and confessed it to God and to others in my life. Not only has it sweetened my fellowship with Jesus but it has also deepened my friendship and fellowship with others. If we want fellowship with God and with other believers, we need to confess our sins, because we walk in the light by doing so and God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us.
5. Some of The Sweetest Memories Are From Unplanned Adventures
This summer Brandon and I took a weekend trip to Boston to visit one of our students and friends. It was a short trip, but filled with a lot of little adventures. We stayed in a hotel fifteen minutes from Concord, Ma, and during the free part of an afternoon on Sunday, we spontaneously decided to drive to Concord and visit Louisa May Alcott's home and Walden Pond. It was a sweet time with Brandon just exploring without an agenda, and it made me want to make more time on days off for unstructured adventures.
What are some things that you learned this summer?
I was talking with a friend the other day who just got Snapchat. She is older than me by a number of years, and we were talking about the purpose of this avenue of social media. She shared about a few snaps that she had received and how she was surprised to see the things that people shared on their snap stories. We talked about social media and how it affects our lives and the way that we live.
Prior to this conversation, I had been thinking a lot about social media. As someone that grew up with the beginnings of social media, AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and Myspace, I've seen my fair share of social media over the past decade. Specifically, I've seen the vanity of hours spent using a medium that will fade with a few years time. I will never get back the hours spent creating and coding the perfect Myspace page, a page that doesn't exist today. Those hours spent now feel meaningless.
I've seen the vanity of writing Facebook statuses to appear witty or smart, only for them to be hidden in the depths of time, new statuses, posts, and shares.
I've seen the vanity of time spent taking a perfect photograph to share on Instagram only for the photo to be eclipsed by newer content.
I've witnessed the vanity of sharing a few photos from my day on Snapchat that fade faster than grass in the summer sun. I've had Snapchat streaks with friends only for a trip away with my family to end weeks of streaks.
I've experienced the disappointment that comes after hours of scrolling only to feel like I've wasted precious hours of my life on meaningless and trivial content.
So if I keep seeing the vanity and meaninglessness of social media, why am I still lured into posting and sharing and commenting and liking?
If I'm honest, social media makes a lot of promises to us. It tells us that when we post or share, we're seen and we're known. It rewards us for posting and sharing and liking. It tells us that it will make our lives better, that it will connect us to more people, that we'll be able to stay in touch with friends. But if we're honest, it often leaves us feeling lonely, less than, and left out. Not only does it make a lot of promises to us, but we also expect a lot from it.
Now, social media can be used for good and for God's glory. It can be used to connect us with old friends or new friends. It can be used to inspire, encourage, and allow us to love others. All of these are good uses for social media, but we should be mindful of the ways that social media leads to chasing after the wind.
I'm cut to the heart every time I read the book of Ecclesiastes as King Solomon lists the things in life that are meaningless and vain. He lays out everything: wealth, riches, wisdom, trying to create something new, and more. This is a man that has it all, and he says that it's all meaningless and vanity when it comes to the grand scheme of our lives.
Reading and being reminded about the vanity of life in Ecclesiastes made me think of the vanity of social media:
"All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remembrance of former things,
nor will there be any remembrance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after."
Ecclesiastes 1: 8-11
"The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing." How true is this every time we scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or check Snapchat?
If social media is vanity, why do we still use it? I keep asking myself this question. If I know that it is not going to satisfy me, make me feel lonely or sad, or feel like I'm not living up to a specific standard for my life, or even that I'm not honoring God with my time when I use it, why do I still use it? I think it's because I believe the lie that things are going to change, that it will satisfy me and make me happy. But friends, only one thing will satisfy us and fill us with joy, and that's union with Jesus Christ.
We expect a lot from social media and it cannot live up to those expectations. It cannot give us abundant life or a meaningful life. But Jesus can. Jesus even says in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
What would it look like if we stopped looking to social media to give us an abundant and meaningful life and instead looked to Jesus? What would it look like if we stopped ourselves when we mindlessly scroll and instead look to Jesus or spend time in the Word? What would it look like if we took time away from social media and instead focused on the relationships around us? I bet it would look like abundant life.
Only Jesus offers abundant life and makes good on his promise.
My prayer is that this truth would affect the way that we use social media. I pray that we would look to Jesus for abundant life and see the meaninglessness of hours spent on social media, and that we would instead use it as a tool to love God more and to love others as a result.
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