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We are coming to the end of March. At the beginning of March, I set the goal for myself to “Make March Matter!” March has been difficult, full of many tears, but the difficulties I have faced have been growing pains, exercise pains, soul-searching pains. And I have definitely “made March matter.” I’ve exercised more, eaten better, and picked up a very old hobby of reading some amazingly life changing books.
The biggest lesson that God has taught me over the last month is this:
Learn who you are, who I made you to be. Evaluate what your strengths and your skills are, and cultivate them for MY glory. Stop seeking the attention, the favor, and the praise of men. Stop looking to others to shape your beliefs, your parenting style, your philosophy of womanhood, and how you act in your marriage. Stop seeking vain attention when what you need to seek is MY love and approval. Don’t listen to the lies that society and the devil tries to put in your head. Be confident in this—you are loved and I have chosen you to be my precious daughter. You are perfect just the way you are – the way I made you to be. Yes there is room for improvement, but don’t let your faults hold you back from enjoying your life, because right now just being who you are is enough to warrant my love.
Okay, so I recognize that that was an extremely multi-faceted, long, packed paragraph. And most of the time I can’t focus on all of these things at once, but God has taken me step by step every day to learn these things.
It really started for me with some of the amazing advice I received from my friends on my post about “Silencing the Inner Voices.” I began to meditate on those truths and started reading the book Loving God With All Your Mind, a book that focuses on thinking things that are TRUE. I also started reading a book called You’re Already Amazing, a book that focuses on how we can be confident of who we are as women, our strengths and our skills, and not believe the lies that the devil tries to teach us.
While reading these two books, I faced some serious struggles. I had recently taken on a temporary music leadership position with PWOC, filling in for the previous leader who was leaving Fort Knox because her husband was retiring. At first, I enjoyed the opportunity, but I quickly became over-burdened. The previous leader’s music style was far-different from mine, there was a lot of work involved, and my confidence quickly waned. These things were causing stress and even some disunity among the members of the music team. That Thursday, tears flowing down my face after what I felt was an awful morning, I was ready to call it quits completely because I didn’t feel like I could do it anymore. But as I was walking to our president to tell her my decision, I was interceptedby a woman who knew just what to say. She told me I had to stop trying to be someone I am not and stop trying to fill the shoes of the previous leader. She told me that I was the leader now and I needed to manage things in a way that minimized my own stress and fell within the lines of my own skills and strengths. I made someserious changes to the way things were done and my stress level decreased quickly.
That Saturday, I went to a 6-hour PWOC conference where my dear friend Jill was the speaker. She started off with an ice breaker… 1) Share something that you are good at, a strength that you have and 2) Share something that you try to hide from people.
It was optional, but I shared. I started off by saying “My name is Aprille, and I’m a not-so-recovering Facebook addict.” A chuckle went through the room and there was even a comment about how I didn’t really hide that so well considering how often I post. I then went on to share what I felt were my strengths.
The point of her exercise, aside from breaking the ice, was to get us all thinking about how God can useus, our strengths AND our weaknesses, to honor God. How God uses each individual differently in the lives of others; how the body of Christ works together, yet each member is different. And how we need to capitalize on our strengths.
Okay God, this is the third time I’ve heard this this week!!!!
Fast forward a few days. It was a normal Wednesday, but after being awake for a few hours, I felt hormonal tension rising within me. It felt like I had taken “angry pills” for lunch. I wanted to scream, cry, and throw things at people. Ezra was sick and crying all day long. I was touched out. I just wanted a break. I wanted solitude. I was trying to pack for a vacation and it seemed like there was more work involved than I should have to do! I was testy with Russ and every time I would snap at him I would feel horrible…apologize…and then two minutes later be jumping at his throat again. In my mind I knew the physiological reasons that I felt this way, but I seemed unable to control my emotions and consequent actions.
I wanted to stay home from church, but knew I should go. God, I know I should go, I can’t ask Russ to stay home again…I need to get out of the house anyway…It will make me feel better. Oh no, it’s Wednesday. I hope that doesn’t mean that they will break off to pray. Don’t you DARE make me pray out loud tonight! Thankfully God showed me mercy, and there was no public praying! But even during the song service I couldn’t seem to keep back the anger, the tears, the irritability. Russ would reach out to hold my hand and comfort me and I would jerk away, then two minutes later reach back for a hug. I left during the song service and hid in a bathroom stall to calm down…and even that seemed to bring no comfort. I felt like it wasn’t fair, that no one could understand, not even God.
By the next morning, all the tension I had felt had dissipated. I felt back to normal and was glad that the attacks of the devil had stopped. I still didn’t quite understand what had come over me, but I was just going to move forward. I went to PWOC and our Bible study was on the subject of humility…JUST what I needed right?!?!?! We talked about how easy it is to be self-focused, and how that keeps us from being kind to others (kindness was what we had discussed the previous week). And then our leader had the GALL to bring up Facebook as something that tempts us to be self-focused and less-than-humble. Ouch. I had never thought about it that way. (And she wasn’t even at the conference to hear my confession!)
Over the rest of the day all of these thoughts were swirling in my head, overwhelming me…strengths, skills, confidence, humility, stop listening to the lies, think the truth…
Most of the tension from the previous day had dissipated, but Ezra was still extremely fussy, and I felt exhausted from the rampage the hormones had taken on my psyche the day before. I was still busy packing for the trip as well as rearranging furniture while being overwhelmed and exhausted, and unfortunately, again, Russ took the brunt force of my frustration.
Never in my life have I been so unsure of myself. I second-guess myself constantly. I’m frustrated. Overwhelmed. I feel like I can’t keep up. I’m a horrible wife. Horrible mother. But I know these are just lies. Yet I can tell like Russ feels neglected sometimes. And why does Ezra cry so much? How can I take care of them both the way they need while still caring for myself so I don’t feel like I want to run away and check into a hotel for a week?
And yet these insecurities keep me so self-focused. I am constantly seeking attention and praise from others. I want people to like me…maybe if my “friends” tell me how awesome I am enough I’ll start to believe it. I want to feel validated and understood, so I turn to others and talk about myself constantly. I don’t take pictures and then post them on Facebook—I take pictures TO post on Facebook. I think in status updates and wonder what my friends will think about every minute detail of my life. I fill my head with “knowledge” that comes from reading blog post after blog post about how to have a successful marriage and be a good mother, and yet it seems like the more I strive, the more frustrated I become. So I keep posting, reading, and sharing, hoping for some sort of mental breakthrough. And all the while I fall further behind on housework, neglect my family, and get more and more frustrated with each passing day.
I fell in bed late that night, exhausted, frustrated…Russ held me in his arms… Something has to change. I know my hormones are all whacky right now, but these feelings are not just limited to these past few days. This has been building to a climax for a while. I can’t continue like this…
I don’t know how…but somehow the answer seemed so clearly obvious that I wondered how I hadn’t seen it before. I had to go off of Facebook. And not just “well, I won’t log in for a while…” no, I had to deactivate my account. I figured that taking 30 days off of Facebook would give me a good cleanse. Great! April has 30 days and it’s almost April. This will will work well.
It was astonishing to me–as soon as I made the decision I felt relief and a sense of purpose. I was actually excited to do it. And, since I won’t have internet access beyond my phone for the next week anyway, why don’t I just do it now?
I deactivated my account the next morning, and I felt the weight of the world lift off of my shoulders (well, other then the packing and cleaning I still had to do to leave town, and the allergy shots I had to get, and the sick baby I had to take to the doctor!) I knew I had made the right decision, and I looked forward to a week away from home, and a good 40 days away from the second “home” I had come to live in for the last five years.
I’ve never known what it’s like to be a wife or a mother who is not on Facebook! What will this be like? What will I do with the time I have “free” now? How can I cultivate my strengths and my skills during this time? How will this help me fight the lies of the devil that hold me back from being who I want to be and who God wants me to be?
It’s not even been a week yet…it’s not even April yet, and although it definitely hasn’t been easy, I feel already that I may never go back to having a personal Facebook account. I’m not yet ready to make that decision, but so far I’m enjoying my freedom. I’m still thinking in status updates from time to time so I know that I definitely still need a good amount of time to have a big break from it.
At the end of my “Make March Matter” post, I jokingly said that I needed to come up with a phrase to keep me motivated in April, and my friend Leah suggested Activate April! At first I thought it was rather corny, but now that I have “deactivated” my Facebook account, it actually seems rather fitting.
(I have figured out a way to keep the Facebook page for this blog open under a separate account which I have opened for the express purpose of only maintaining the page. I felt like it was only fair to my “followers” and would still give me a way to stay somewhat connected to some of my cyberfriends. I will be posting links to my blog posts as well as important life updates and occasional photos.)