I can remember a time when I said, “I don’t know how people can handle social media. Keeping up with Facebook, Twitter AND email!?! This was even before Instagram and Pinterest were even a thing. It stressed me out thinking I had to check work email, my personal email, and text messages, along with these social media sites.
Then I joined Twitter. A year or so later, I joined Facebook. Then Pinterest, Instagram, and oh my word . . . it was like one after the other, I had a smart phone with apps and too much distraction in the palm of my hands. Now, I’m all in and overwhelmed with information.
This week for Lent, we’re talking about the spiritual discipline of simplicity. As I thought about how I would practice this discipline, I wasn’t too sure? I already decluttered my whole house. I have less than 50 items in my closet, I’ve kept only what I use regularly in my kitchen, and we don’t buy a ton of things. And to be honest the process of simplifying isn’t exactly simple.
So this week simplicity is less about getting rid of stuff, and more about living in a slow, simple, intentional way. The way to a simple life isn’t just decluttering your stuff; it’s also decluttering your heart and mind from constant distraction, information, and busyness.
So how will I practice simplicity? By eliminating social media, hurry, and noise as much as possible.
For a couple of weekends in February, I fasted from social media. No constant checking or updating, posting and sharing. I left my phone at home when we went out on a date or left it in the other room when I was spending time with people.
I realized when I’m not constantly checking my phone or social media sites my heart and mind are slower. I don’t feel as busy and overwhelmed. I’m not getting upset over a negative post or people posting pictures about sad, dying dogs that need to be adopted, or bloggers writing mean blogs about other bloggers. There’s enough real life hard stuff right in front of me, I didn’t need to drag in other people’s stuff too.
Not to mention, it affects our real life relationships too: 6 Ways Social Media is Ruining Our Friendships . There’s that whole jealousy and FOMO thing that can do a lot of harm to your heart and mind. If you find yourself jealous, angry or annoyed with people, time for a break. If you find yourself thinking negative things about others or yourself, or assuming motives about what/why they post, take a break.
And for some, unfollow. I unfollowed nearly all of the sites that post beautiful expensive fashionable things for my closet or my home. Mostly because it cultivated discontentment and the desire to shop and buy new things. I went through and did some digital decluttering in January and unfollowed, unclicked, and deleted much of what I was taking in.
Today, I’m deleting all of my apps and taking my work email off of my phone. I went through and unsubscribed from things and will be fasting from social media for the next few days and unplugging as much as possible. I not only needed to declutter my closet, but my brain too. *If a complete social media fast is too much, try limiting to just 10 minutes a day. Keep a journal to see if your anxiety, jealousy, insecurity, FOMO, and distraction decrease.
Another way to live simply is to eliminate hurry. I hate being rushed. It stresses me out to go from one meeting to the next to the next. I never want to feel hurried out of a conversation or too busy to enter in. I realized hurry is a disease for simplicity. If we are always late, rushing out or squeezing things in, it’s hard to practice simplicity.
So this means saying no to a lot. This means scheduling meetings or time with people with margin before or after. It means not having something every waking moment of the day so you can slow your heart, your life, and be still. In fact, for me it means scheduling actual times when I will go on a walk, read, or spend time with the Lord. Yes, those things make it to my calendar so my day is not a whirlwind and there is time for slowing down.
Noise comes in many different forms. Social media could fall under this category too. But I am actually referring to real, constant noise in the background of your life. When driving in your car, we have the radio on. At home, the television (or children, but those you can’t really mute). In nearly every spare moment we have something clouding our mind and filling our ears. So what about redeeming some of that time for simple silence? The part of noise we can control (music, TV, podcasts, phone calls) is just unnecessary noise that keeps us from silence. Not to mention, most recent statistics state the average American watches 37-40 hours of television a week. So add those hours plus the hours with social media, no wonder we feel drained, busy and overwhelmed!
Joshua Becker, the founder of Becoming Minimalist, says, “Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. Media rearranges your values. It begins to dominate your life. And it has a profound impact on your attitude and outlook.” Read full article here: 10 Most Important Things to Simplify
There is much we can do to pursue a more simple life. When I pursue the 3 things above, I notice I have more margin for people. I will have more time and space to pray, to visit people (unhurried), to go on a walk, to write a note, to invite people over for a meal, to read more books (not just status updates), and more. In all of this, the hope is as we simplify we look to God in those free moments and free spaces in our soul. I hope you find ways to pursue simplicity this week and turn to Christ to be filled.
How will you practice simplicity this week?
Which of the 3 practices above do you most resonate with and why?
I’ll also be enjoying these books this month, seeking more ways to live a more simple and intentional life.
Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington
The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller
An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling
The Listening Life by Adam S. McHugh
Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living by Rhonda Heizel