Two months ago, I shut down my blog. I logged out of my Facebook page, Instagram account, and Twitter feed. And I set up and out-of-office reply to my email inbox. Other than grocery shopping and keeping up with the news, I walked away from the Internet for 60 days.
I loved every moment.
I’m not opposed to the Internet or social media. I wouldn’t be writing this post if I was. In fact, I could craft a very long list of the many ways technology has enhanced my life, starting with the reality of YOU.
You and I became friends as a result of the internet. We get to share about real life here, talk about the hard things, wrestle with our faith and life’s meaning here. Without social media and the Internet, geography would’ve have limited us, and you and I would still be strangers.
However, like an ego-maniac who hasn’t yet learned he’s not the center of the universe, the Internet sometimes demands too much attention. It steals clarity, sucks energy, interferes with intentionality. And it becomes the ceaseless cacophony that’s always distracting and diverting from what’s right in front of me. When that happens, when I feel like I’m drowning in the noise, I know I need to do something drastic to once again find my footing.
That’s why I stepped back. And that’s why I’ll keep doing the same as often as necessary. Because I know the only way to build a life on something more solid than air is to get quiet, settle my soul, close my eyes and remember the truths I sometimes forget in all the noise:
1. I am the Beloved. In this world of clamoring for feedback and attention, it’s easy to slip into believing you need to earn belonging. That you need to wow everyone with your merits and convince people you’re worthy of love. But this summer, I spent time remembering the one truth that’s far more important than all the others: I am the beloved. I am the one God created, chose, pursued, saved, and loved. I’m the one who, of no merit of her own, captured the attention of the Father. No one can take that away, no matter their criticism or their praise. By the way, the same is true for you.
2. Life is here, now. It’s not somewhere out there, up ahead if I get all the problems resolved and all the messes cleaned up, if I find the right relationships and secure the right job. Instead, real life is right here, in this complicated and undone moment right in front of me. This is the gift, in all its glorious complexity, full of challenges and heartaches, laughter and impossible joy. Rather than pine for what I don’t have or work my stomach and fingers raw toward some non-existent perfection ahead, I can sit with the life I’ve already been given. I can turn it in my hand, search for the glimmers of gold it hides, and learn to savor it, as it is, even if it’s not what I would’ve chosen.
3. Healing is hidden in togetherness. As much day-to-day life tempts me to isolate, to shut down all the noise and hole up in my tiny little world, the secret to wholeness resides in the willingness to connect. To reach out, to enter in, to choose relationship over going it alone. It’s risky, unpredictable, messy. But God has always been about togetherness. That means for those who push in rather than pull away, connection—with God and each other—will slowly heal the wounds that have been wrought, working like a balm to soothe what’s been broken. It sounds improbable, downright impossible. And yet that is the mystery of the gift of relationship.
Simple truths, yes. But big enough to help you when you need to find your footing again.
P.S. Also? I talk more about these thoughts in my next book, Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. It releases in three months, and I can hardly believe it. And yet, I’m ready, in no small part due to the solitude of this summer. To learn more, get a sneak peak, or pre-order, click here.
Your lead helped me take digital detox’s too, but I’m equally grateful for the connections it’s given me!!
So excited for your new book!! It comes out on Boxing Day in the UK and will be the perfect gift for one of my friends!!
Wow, this is so what I needed today! Thanks for always keeping it real!
Thank you so much for sharing. I needed this this morning..Love to hear from you. Love my book and what God is doing in my life .I need prayer for staying on Facebook a long time .where I need to study God word .so please pray .Thank you again for the book it’s awesome and you are are a great writer..Thank you.
Beautiful. I’m so glad to hear your voice again. I cannot wait to read your new book.
Michele, I love your practice of unplugging from social media for the summer. My summer has included grieving the loss of our 28-year-old son who took his life Mother’s Day weekend, as well as undergoing a double mastectomy in June. I was off work for two months, and it was glorious. Connecting with God, for sure. Much healing with togetherness with dear friends. Wish I could have unplugged from the rat race longer. Quiet is where our hearts hear the most!
Oh, Mary, my heart just broke as I read your note. What a powerful witness you are to have endured such a summer and yet use terms like “glorious” and “healing” and “connecting with God” in your response. I will pray for a continuation of that for you. Thank you for the strength of your faithful witness.
Thank you, Damon. Prayer is much appreciated.
I love your thoughts today this summer it became clear I needed to have boundaries and God has helped I disconnect on Sunday and each night I quiet my phone at 8. As I go back to classroom. As teacher I see the need for rest more now than ever and this has also given me time to grieve my loss of my sweet dad and realize what I need. God has been so gracious and kind to my heart. I can’t wait to read your boom
I’m a newcomer to your blogs, but I look forward to them. In May, I read your book, and it’s impossible for me to tell you how much it has helped me. In January, my husband was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. The year has been filled with tests, chemos, surgery, and more chemos. At a point when my heart was struggling, I read your book. Thank you for sharing your life! I look forward to your new book.
Lovely to hear from you again. Looking forward to your new book.
I am so glad you are back!
I just exited my “tent of meeting” and signed in to FB. I had just had a long talk with God about “my stories,” and what I should do with them. He spoke to me through my reading in Nehemiah. What I heard was “wait.”
I have shared a few stories with a few select people and received no feedback. I do not know if I was being prideful in doing so, but I confessed it anyway.
Then I read your comments and the very first sentence contains the words “feedback and attention.” So I believe my Father is telling me, again, “wait.” Actually, they are His stories anyway.
Thanks for your post. I look forward to following you!
Peace and blessings on your head!
Michele, I was particularly struck by point #2, that life is here, now. It reminded me of that same point made by Gred McKeown in Essentialism, how we cannot know or control the future, and we cannot change the past, but we have now, and that is ALL we have. Live now!! (I think you’re the one who recommended that book to me. and it was excellent!)
Welcome back to SocialMediadom, my friend.
Michele, I so appreciate what you wrote here. I felt myself take a deep breath as I read this. Maybe that’s what we don’t do when we’re too plugged in.
I have lung issues and, at times, struggle to breathe and cannot fully catch a deep breath because the bottom third of my left lung is useless. Physically, I’ve grown accustomed to shallow breathing on many days.
But pulling back and refocusing will help me concentrate on breathing God’s breath just as He breathed into Adam and then Eve when He brought life into their waiting bodies. I need to wait on Him (and not the internet) to breathe life-giving air into me.
Thank you for writing and sharing it with us. I’m glad to be your friend and continue to pray for you.
Oh, I needed that Michele…every truth you shared …so grateful our Shepherd connected us because He speaks to me through your voice! Thank you! ???
Preordered and I can’t wait for the new book release. This summer I learned more about myself and others in ways that brings me back to the agape love of God. I learned that I can live in that unknowable “in-between” and be present. Your absence on social media these summers is a reminder to me how important times of taking breaks and self-reflecting are. But you bring balance to the conversation by reminding us that connection is also valuable. Thank you for being you!
I love this because I’m going through a rough patch. I can’t decide if I’m depressed or my body is just symptomatic due to my current place. I stopped my career to care for a grandchild. Oh, that’s amazing some are saying. And it is, Yet, I’m grieving I believe the loss of feeling valuable, worthy, capable. (I worked in child welfare and mental health for about 25 years). I have a book idea and a proposal and I’ve queried. Now, nothing but crickets making annoying buffering to my hope in possibility. I paint and have sold a few pieces. This has also grown stagnant.
Your words about “being where you are” resonated this morning, along with being beloved…being beloved despite your not platform worthy number of followers and your art not being displayed in galleries that are touted on Instagram. In a strange way I feel you confirmed my conclusion, we do this to ourselves, seeking of attention that doesn’t come or only comes sporadically, causing my husband to look at me and say “You still bummed?”’
Woe is me. That’s a true statement. Thank you for prompting this processing for me. Now I need to be quiet, you’ve reminded me of its healing. Thank goodness.
Lisa, I too recently have gone through a time wondering if a big depression was settling in or what was going on. My circumstances have been in change the last year or so and I was having trouble accepting that. Praise God I received some godly advice to give transition more time and rest in the “life is here, now”moments Michele refers to. I’m now moving out of the sluggishness, blahs, and who am I into a time of celebrating each day and all that it brings.
Michele, love your words of encouragement! Looking forward to your book coming out! Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so glad to hear from you again!
I’ve learned this summer that stepping away from ministry for a while may be the most important thing you can do for ministry. I didn’t plan it but God knew what I needed and He’s always right. I am not defined by what I do but by my relationship to Jesus and that is a wonderful freedom. What I do is often just screwed up but He always stands by me with grace. My prayers continue for you.