A week and a half ago, I decided to take a short sabbatical from Facebook. Multiple reasons led to my temporary unplugging from the social media world. One in particular was a growing awareness of how often I was logging on. I had gotten to the point where I was on Facebook 20+ times a day, just to check if I had any new notifications. My attentiveness to “virtual relationships” had well exceeded—and perhaps even taken away from—my communication and care for real life relationships with family and friends. One day, it suddenly hit me: Facebook had become that which I was trusting to give my life meaning and worth. Whenever I would post something and not receive any responses, I felt disappointed; likewise, whenever others would “like” and/or respond, I felt a sense of value. Unconsciously, I had taken a good and convenient source of communication and created an idol out of it. No longer was this social media serving as a helpful tool; but, now, I had begun to use it to determine my self-worth. With regards to the First Commandment, Luther calls us each to: “Search and examine your own heart thoroughly, and you will discover whether or not it clings to God alone.” Not until I was able to take a step back from it, did I realize how I had let it control and shape my life. In a way, Facebook had become an addiction—my emotions hinging on it, and others’ comments determining my self-worth. When I finally realized how it was shaping my daily life and emotions, I felt so ashamed. Needing to break the chains of idolatry and turn my attention back to God and the gifts of my family and friends, I decided to take a break from the social media. Those first few days were tough. With each day, however—as I refocused my attention to more meaningful things, such as my prayer life and relationships with my wife and son--I began to feel a change. That which I had been searching for on Facebook was physically present around me—and had been all the while.
Martin Luther reminds us--affirming God’s grace and goodness: “We are to trust in God alone, to look to him alone, and to expect him to give us only good things; for it is he who gives us body, life, food, drink, nourishment, health, protection, peace, and all necessary temporal and eternal blessings. In addition, God protects us from misfortune and rescues and delivers us when any evil befalls us. It is God alone (as I have repeated often enough) from whom we receive everything good and by whom we are delivered from all evil.” Is there something in your life that seems to be controlling and shaping all that you are—yet only leaving you feeling empty and worthless? What would it look like to take a sabbatical from this thing, examine your heart, and discern what or who is functioning as God in your life? Perhaps you are being called to log off your idols and return to the Lord your (only) God.