It's been two and a half weeks since I last visited Facebook. I felt led to take a six week leave of absence, and now I'm almost half way through this self-imposed exile. I've done this a couple of times since I joined the renowned and revered community - once during Lent, and once for some (good?) reason I don't quite recall. It's been several years since my last Facebook fast.
When I first thought of taking a break this time around, it was with the intention of creating space in my life - for more reflection, to read more good books, to write something worth reading, to compose some good songs... Have I ever mentioned that I tend to be a bit of an idealist?
Here's what reality has looked like these last eighteen days: first, a nasty and violent bout of stomach flu made the rounds in our household, which resulted in much coddling of little boys, much cleaning up of that which humans were not meant to deal with, and many days of personal illness and weakness and slow recovery. Right in the midst of all this, I was offered, completely out of the blue, a temporary job that bore all the marks of an answer to many prayers and tears prayed and shed over the past few months. A roller coaster ride, indeed!
I've recovered from the flu; I've accepted the job. Now I'm scrambling to restore my home back to some semblance of order (it looks like a hurricane struck at this point), get my balanced-eating-and-exercise plan back on track and prepare for my brief but hopefully helpful stint as an interim music director over Christmas. Life is quickly filling up the spaces I had hoped to create. So mission accomplished, I guess - but it sure looks a lot different than I had envisioned! (I know - what else is new...)
But I'm really missing my Facebook community. I started jotting down the times when I felt an urge to post to FB, and a most interesting trend quickly emerged. It wasn't a particular emotion or type of event that I wanted to share - they were as varied as the joy of a soul-stirring Steve Bell concert, the delight of an unexpected employment opportunity, the lingering beauty of late Fall, the wonder of the first snowfall, the agonizing hardship of disciplining a defiant eleven year old, the happy birthday celebrations of a certain now-seven year old, and the horrible reality of dealing with copious amounts of vomit... I realized that what I was missing most was the satisfying camaraderie that comes from shared feelings and experiences; the comfort of knowing I'm not alone.
But a couple of really good things have come out of this as well, so far. This may sound cheesy, but it's actually deepened my relationship with God. After a few days of feeling mildly depressed and intensely lonely, I started training myself to go to God with all the status updates I was constantly composing in my head (does anyone else out there do that, too?). The status updates began to turn into praises and petitions, with the unexpected but lovely result of tremendously enriching my prayer life.
It's also shown me how much I need other people. As friendly and outgoing as I (hope I) appear, I'm an introvert at heart. I renew my strength and find my peace in extended time alone. But we're all wired for community - we need each other. I used to see this as a weakness, a mark of immaturity, something to overcome. I know better now.
So I'm grateful. Looking forward with hopeful anticipation to what other blessings may come as a result of this experiment. Also looking forward with warm fuzzies to taking my place in my beloved community again, to sharing the highs and mids and lows of life with many beautiful souls.