Sugar and Social Media

On January 2nd I joined with my church in a corporate fast. I chose to fast sugar and social media. Sugar was an easy yes but social media that one was hard to swallow and say yes too. You can read about that here.

Fasting is about returning our heart’s affections to God. To be wholly satisfied in Him. The last time I fasted something, it was several years ago over the summer. I fasted TV. I unplugged it and found other things to do. It had nothing to do with God. It had everything to do with my family sitting in front of the stupid box all day. Unplugging from it was my solution to having 2 kids at home all day stuck on TV. It was hard but we stayed busy. It felt good to stick to a goal and hit it.

This time around, I was thirsty and hungry. Our team at church had been running for a long while. Last year was a beast of a year. So many things to do. So many ways to spend time. So many expectations. So many… the list could go on. So, when this fast started I gave up sugar and social media. so that, that I might find God and delight in Him. Since the desire for other things enters in and chokes the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mark 4:19) It was a sad truth that my heart was full of denial. It did love other things. I went seeking God and I found that in order to delight in God one must first find what is lurking, what shadows of darkness hide away the light from our eyes. So, I agreed to humble my soul with fasting. (Psalm 35:13)

As I began to fix my eyes on Jesus, He began to shine a light in those dark corners of my soul. I felt uncomfortable. I felt denial and desire for sugar. I longed for the distraction of posting some good quote or scripture. I felt delight for something else than God. For the first week, I simply observed what was arising out of the dark and I listened. When I felt those desires, I stood still and looked to see what was there. I sensed transgression. That word means sin, rebellion, but also defection. Spiritual defection is leaving your first love. It is living superficial Christianity. It is saying “I believe” but living out life as a doubter & a grumbler in the face of God. He is sovereign over all but I had settled for self-sufficiency. I was trying to do it all and get it done as quick as possible even if it killed me. I found that I also somewhat enjoyed looking so accomplished.

The Lord gave me this verse that first week.

The word delight leap out at me. Delight it is seeing and savoring God. I was lacking. This dive into the dark revealed how sugar treats give me a burst of “feeling good” when I am not feeling good emotionally. It became a mood switcher. It allowed me to focus on something “happy” so that I could bypass the process of processing emotions. As I reflected on last year and the things I went through, I can see the enemies subtle plan called The Great Sweet Treat Exchange. I wonder how many of us are under that bondage? I also saw how social media was creating in me a snackable Christianity. If you know me or go to my church, you know I mentioned that very thing in a message I gave last year. Apparently, that was for me! God said it and I missed it and walked right into the trap. Substituting deep spiritual soul care for sugar and social media led to living a remote control life. I have felt like an RC Car with a drained battery for 6 months or more. Last year was exhausting! God revealed that I use candy and sweets to keep my mouth busy while social media keeps my brain busy and off of what is bothering me. Otherwise, I will just say it and deal with it. When did that change from being my norm?

My guess is that if you have read this far you either know me, love me, and care or you can relate. Most people are looking for the 3 point posts that will give them quick fixes and a to-do list to get their lives under control. I know because that is how I have been living. But now, I want God! How about you?

That first week was rough. I wrote in my journal a little note that said, “I am doing what I know I should do because I am trying to pop start my heart.” In the second week, my flesh pulled out of the dark in full force grabbing for the reigns of my desires to go back to its loves – sugar and social media. Nothing satisfied me or even touched that “want of sugar” that I had. I tried fruit, sugar-free creamer, and others. I picked up my phone hundreds of times and tried just scrolling through Pinterest to take the edge off. The payoff just wasn’t the same. No substitute curbed the crave. I fought with thoughts about whether or not anyone missed my posts. If anyone cared that I was absent. I didn’t announce it on facebook. The only place I said I was doing a fast and would be gone was on a blog post. I was in the thick of the battle for my affections and desires, so I began starting my day on my knees. Over and over I said to my own soul, “Jesus is better! This much, Oh God, I want you!” I came to understand that fasting is about God being a freedom fighter for His people. This wasn’t just about me eating too much sugar or spending too much time on social media. This was about integrating my soul for wholeness and reorienting my heart to God.

Alongside my fast, I was reading John Piper’s book called Hunger for God. The first thing I wrote down from this book was, “I will allow my heart to be probed with fasting to see where my allegiance is and who is my God.” I had found my eyes had drifted and my heart is prone to wander. The passions of the flesh had waged war against my soul and spirit. (1 John 2:16) Sugar became a beast that craved whole bags of gummy bears in one sitting. Social media had become the outlet to share what I read, write and do. Fasting is a holy act where all my affection, attention, and attractions bow to God. It is the act of not being seen of men and is done unto and to be seen only by God.

The last week had started out with temptations to get on Facebook. I needed information for work and I needed to check up on something. I refused and asked someone else to do it. I realized how much of a burden being the social media person of my church really is. It has become like a chain of bondage that I want to be released from. These last few days I have asked God to refine me and cleanse my heart. Renew a right spirit in me. (Psalm 51:10) I had an uncomfortable conversation with a friend. In this season, I would have diverted to Facebook for solace but instead, I felt the awkwardness. I reflected and pondered deeply for a couple days about why that was so uncomfortable. I found lurking beneath, what I believe, is the root of sugar and social media binges. I am an over-functioning workaholic. Which means I max my brain capacities out on a daily basis and do work that others can and should do for themselves. I hinder them and fry my own brain. I become emotionally unavailable to my family and I am exhausted.

So where am I now? In prayer on Sunday morning January 20th I heard the Lord say, “will you go away?” I wrote it down but I didn’t process or really think about that until right now. I feel undeniable grief that my Lord feels such sadness. OH, HOW WE ARE PRONE TO WANDER AND LEAVE THE GOD WE LOVE! That is a line from the song Come thou fount. It is a song that captures the sad truth that we wander away often. As I listen to the song, I fear that sugar will overtake me the moment I indulge. Before the fast, I was eating packs of gummy anything, daily indulging in anything sweet, and filling myself to stuffed with sugary junk food. Facebook was consuming a ton of time. I was posting snackable bits every day, several times a day sharing moments from daily life, and scrolling mindlessly for hours. Plus all the hours I put into it for the church. Right now the power of both has been broken. I am able now to endure them. (1 Cor. 10:13) So what Now?

Join me in my next post called Fix Your Eyes which will launch tomorrow at that link. I will unpack some lessons from fasting.

Thanks for Listening,

Starla Smith

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