I hesitated a bit before I hit those delete buttons. Tiny X’s in the center- a first step to saying goodbye to phone apps. As I parted ways with my daily habits, I started to wonder what would fill that extra bit of time. What would replace those quick, mindless moments of scrolling down a news feed. Those little apps allow me to keep up with other humans- to encourage them, rejoice with them, weep with them. Like (love) or dislike the moments they share. Validate, invalidate and affirm their experiences.
Fast-forward to somewhere around day three of disconnecting- I woke up with a light heart and a focused mind. Something felt different in a way I could not quite put my finger on. After a few minutes in deep thought, the change became apparent- Gratitude.
I like to fool myself to think I’m accomplished at practicing gratitude. I practice all the things a good, “gracious” person would- sending up praise for my unanticipated blessings throughout the day, thanking folks who make my life a little brighter, recording in my “Daily Gratitude Journal”, regularly. An ugly truth graced me with perspective- these routines of gratitude are surface level.
Living a life of gratitude reaches depths far beyond these basic practices. Perhaps the greatest way to show gratitude is living in the now. I began to connect the dots and see how social media plays a role in all of this. How these little apps that help us to avoid missing other people’s moments, can lead us to miss our own.
We open an app and we are instantly bombarded with new information- some good news and some bad. A loss, an engagement, a baby, a natural disaster, a wedding, a national uproar. As we scroll “mindlessly”, we are actually internalizing these things. A hyper-focus on other people’s news. Our mind shift gears to the future. What will happen next? – in other people’s lives. Then we are prompted to consider our own futures- the potential for good and for bad. What will happen in the future with our jobs, our relationships, our families?
“Be anxious for nothing. But in all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
During the quiet moments, disconnected from social media, gratitude and intentionality became my mantras. I realized that God reveals life’s beauty in all of the little moments. The crisp air of a new morning, the exchange of a smile and nod with a stranger in passing, the sound of the rain, the scent of the seasons changing. Instead of consuming myself with keeping up with people (literally and figuratively), I asked the Lord to help me self-reflect.
I was able to keep up with the people I needed to- no details missed. In fact, time away actually prompted me to contact the people I love a little more. I replaced the time I spent following my plethora of social media friends, with calling and writing cards to my real friends. I neglected relying on hitting a thumbs up symbol to acknowledge that what was going on in their lives was seen, important to me. And I took the time to reconnect with my two best friends- myself and the Lord.
All of the little moments add up. All of the time, here and there, spent on social media adds up. And when we put time with God and ourselves in the place of it, those tiny moments end up creating a day full of recognizing God’s grace and the blessings we are surrounded with. That, my friends, is gratitude- overwhelming gratitude. Be careful not to miss the now, while focusing on the later. After all, the later is not guaranteed.
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.