Today was my first day back after a three-week break from Facebook. It was so nice to catch up with friends, see pictures of newborns (hello, sweet nephew Tyler!), and be in touch with family again.
I'm so grateful for Facebook, and for the way we can stay in touch online! But I did learn some things while I was taking a break, and I'm grateful for those lessons too.
In the first three days, I was really surprised by how often I picked up my phone to pop over to Facebook. And weirder still, I started to notice how often I was arranging my thoughts as if I was composing a status update. I was kind of disconcerted by that - it was almost like there was a layer between my brain and the moment, a Facebook layer. Happily, it didn't last long.
I was a little bit bored at first - there were gaps in my day that weren't entirely filled by other people's lives ;). But then I started doing other things - writing again, listening to music, drawing pictures just for the fun of it, reading - and I felt my brain wake up. I was surprised one day, to find myself thinking about current events. I had a logical train of thought and supporting arguments and actually enjoyed the process. I wasn't thinking in order to reply to someone on Facebook, I wasn't forming a blog post or picking sides in a social debate - just thinking, for the sheer pleasure of it, with absolutely no audience in mind. And that was pretty nice. I didn't realize I had been living with the invisible Facebook audience in my head until I backed away.
I was less late. I wasn't actually on time (ha!), but I wasn't as dreadfully late.
I talked on the phone more (sorry, Jo, for stealing so many mornings).
I took pictures to enjoy them, not because I was thinking about how they might look on Facebook.
I watched movies with Patrick and didn't look at my phone a dozen times while they played.
I woke up in the morning and opened my Bible app, not my Facebook app.
I posted pictures on my blog.
I hunted down recipes, and made them.
And what about my kids, my weedy garden, the metaphor that God used to inspire me to take a break?
I found myself enjoying them. A lot. They're kind of awesome. :) Sam can do so many things (especially when I have the patience to let him fail a few times first), and Vava is blowing me away with her interest in reading and writing. She's still ONE!
And this is probably no surprise to everyone but me ... but the weeds I was seeing were mine. Not theirs. I needed to pull up the weeds of distraction to enjoy my family and appreciate the amazing people they are. Okay, yes, they have things we need to work on. Sam has started to bite when he's angry - ugh! - and Vava whines like nobody's business when she's tired. But peeling off the Facebook-layer from my brain gave me the perspective and attention-span to see my kids more completely. I actually had entire days where my frustration level didn't max out. I was aware of their good choices as well as their bad ones - and I was better able to discuss their problems with them, because I was doing a better job of paying attention to things before they escalated into something awful.
And my favourite benefit? I started being more aware of God.
I think we will always struggle, in this life, with the film of the visible blocking our mind to the invisible. I will, anyway. Being aware of Him is a discipline, walking with Him moment by moment isn't as easy as walking with a person I can see and touch and hear. But it's like anything else - the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And the more my mind is in the habit of engaging with invisible things like ideas, thoughts, feelings, the easier it is to engage in prayer, repentance, gratitude - being in His presence.
So I pulled some weeds, and planted some good stuff. I discovered how nourishing it is to be creative, to plunge my mind into deliberate thought, to pursue depth in prayer. I became aware of that ugly Facebook-layer that was filtering my thoughts ... and time away helped me to peel it off. I want to guard that gap, the FB-filterless brain I'm bringing back with me, and keep enjoying my thoughts as they are, without editing them for any audience. And I'm glad to be back, to be in touch with my family and friends. Most of you are far away, and I love your updates and photos and stories. I'm so glad I get to know what you're up to, and I love being able to say hi so easily and frequently.
God bless you, friends!