• Dana L. Butler

Hello Facebook. I’m Back. [6 Months Later…]

Hi Friends! I’d like to preface this post with a warning:  I usually try to keep my posts fairly short – readable within 4 minutes or so.  This one… well, it’s definitely an exception to my 800 word norm.  Forgive me.  I had some processing to do here… and just thought I’d share it with ya all. 🙂 Okay.  Read on. 🙂 ————————————————————————————————- In August, I said goodbye to Facebook, after 5 years.  I thought I was leaving Facebook forever.  I was shocked by how easy it was to let it go. For those first few days, I missed having FB to turn to if/when I had a minute or two free.  I had to really discipline my heart to turn toward the Lord in those moments.  And after that… I just… didn’t miss it any more.  It has been an incredibly freeing thing for me to learn to do life apart from Facebook. I’ve been “off” for 6 months now.  In this season, my relationship with Jesus has deepened and grown like I’ve never experienced before.  I’ve noticed a “sharpness” that’s developed inside me… an in-tune-ness with the voice and nearness of God that I’ve never experienced before to this degree.  I have learned (and am still learning!) to intentionally turn to Him, to press in to Him to meet specific needs in my heart that I never would have even been able to identify or articulate before.  It’s been literally the sweetest season of my entire life with Him. Today our church family is concluding a 21 day Daniel Fast.  One of the things I’ve been asking the Lord about a little bit on this fast is Facebook.  I’ve been considering making a grand re-entry.  Here are a couple of the thoughts that’ve been rolling around in my heart relative to Facebook over recent weeks….maybe the last month. 1. Do I even want to get back on Facebook??  Meh…  I could take it or leave it, and part of me would really rather leave it.  BUT… the reality is that there are people that I deeply care about whose lives I’m simply not able to keep up with as easily without being on Facebook.  Simple fact: Facebook is a tool that allows us to keep up with, and extend love to, a fairly large number of friends in a relatively short amount of time.  It’s efficient.  It’s useful. 2. It can also be dangerous.  It can suck time… heart-focus… intentionality… life.  I’ve learned something about myself in recent months… and have only been able to articulate it in the last several days: The primary thing that “dulls” my spirit, that slowly, subtly lulls my heart to sleep in terms of my awareness of the Lord’s activity in my life, is a lack of being intentional with my attention.  On any given day I have a small handful of moments – – 2 minutes here, 5 minutes there – – that I am not busy with anything in particular.  The key question for me in any given moment is this: What am I going to turn to when my mind is not otherwise occupied?  If anything was difficult about leaving Facebook this past August, it was figuring out how to discipline my mind in those moments where, usually for literally only 2 – 5 minutes at a time, I didn’t have anything pressing, demanding my focus.  I didn’t realize it till after I was off of Facebook, but Facebook had become my default distraction in those moments.  To clarify, it was never really an excessive time issue, as I never spent oodles and oodles of time on FB.  BUT… it was the 2 minutes here, 5 minutes there, at random times during the day, that continually drew my focus away from the Lord, from intentionally attending to His Presence. My lack of intentionality with my attention was the primary creator of the “heart clutter” that was the impetus for me pulling the plug on Facebook. Soooo… these thoughts are some of what I’ve been mulling over in these weeks as we’ve been fasting.  And then… then the pastor of the church that Stan and I were a part of when we lived in Colorado (His family is like family to Stan and I, so incredibly dear to us)… he had a horrible ski accident.  This was 9 days ago.  (He was very seriously injured but is now steadily improving, Praise the LORD.  It was pretty scary there at first.)  And as I’ve secretly “stalked” facebook, via my husband’s account, in this last week, keeping track of his wife Sue’s reports of how Ian’s been doing and joining in the chorus of the HUNDREDS of people who love the Prichard family and are praying fervently for Ian’s healing, I’ve been reminded again what an incredibly useful tool Facebook is.  And when Facebook “friends” are actually your real-life friends too, how the community that you’ve already fostered “in real life” can actually be enhanced by continuing it on Facebook.  (I say this knowing that Facebook can also be a great place to never really, deeply know, or be known by, others.  It’s a danger that we have to be aware of and steer away from.  But I wonder, could this be one of those cases where we might throw the baby out with the bath water?  Depends on the person, perhaps… but I’m thinking maybe so.) And so… with all of these things that’ve been rolling around in my heart… yesterday I called a dear friend of mine, Chavos, who is NOT on Facebook.  I shared with her my thoughts, my heart, mostly the things I’ve written here.  I asked her to ask me hard questions, to check my heart and my motives for considering re-engaging with Facebook.  We had a really great conversation.  One of the things I found myself saying, was something like this:

“If I have the grace and the discipline to use Facebook as a tool to keep up-to-date with, and love on, and encourage, people that I genuinely care about and have invested in, if I have the grace to use it in a manner that does not allow it to begin to “dull” my spirit again, then I think I’d like to use it… simply because the great majority of the people in my life are on FB, and in sharing that with them, I can extend my heart to a large number of those I care about, and do it efficiently.
If I DON’T have grace for it… then I don’t want to.”

I asked my friend Chavos if she would be willing, if I did decide to get back on Facebook, to hold me accountable.  I do NOT want it to become my default again in my little free moments throughout my day.  I do NOT want it to draw me away from being “intentional with my attention.”  I do not want it to become a source of “heart clutter” that dulls my spirit and makes me less sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Chavos said yes. In months past, whenever I’ve thought about getting back on Facebook, I’ve almost shuddered at the thought.  I do not want to REMOTELY risk diminishing this fire that the Lord’s been cultivating in my heart. And yet recently, as I’ve considered it, I’ve realized that, I don’t want to, out of fear, say no to using Facebook as a tool, using it responsibly before the Lord, if it will allow me to extend my heart to more of those that I care about. SO.  In case anyone’s still wondering… I think I’ve arrived at the decision to get back on Facebook.  AND… here are the practical things I’m putting in place for the sake of accountability in how I’m doing at being intentional with my attention, as I’ve discussed.

  1. I will generally only be on Facebook twice a day.  When I have free time to be on Facebook, I will decide when I sit down how long I should spend (not to exceed 20 minutes), and I will set a timer to keep me on track.  This will help me avoid the “free-moment-default” factor.

  2. I will NOT put the Facebook app on my iPhone.  Makes it way too easy to lose focus.  I would rather have to intentionally sit down at a computer in order to spend time on Facebook.

  3. I have already logged into my account and begun deleting friends who I have not had a conversation with in the last year or more.  I want to be intentional about how I use Facebook, to use it to help maintain friendships that are actually that: friendships.

  4. I will be checking in with my friend Chavos, as well as my beloved hubby (and any other of my “real-life” friends who want to ask me!!), who will be asking me the hard questions about how I’m doing at stewarding my heart before the Lord well, and being intentional with my attention and focus.

THIS IS AN EXPERIMENT.  I SO do not want to diminish what the Lord’s been doing inside of me… I want to fight, to do whatever it takes to sustain a heart posture of stillness before Him and continue to grow in these things with Him.  If I find that, with these new parameters and with all that the Lord’s done in my heart in this season, Facebook is still making it difficult for me to maintain the interior heart-atmosphere that I’m after, to continually be intentional with my attention, to keep my focus on attending to Him….. then I will “fall off the face of the earth” again. 🙂 But for now… and I think for a good while… Hello Facebook friends.  I’m back. (Takin’ it one day at a time….)


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