Sunday, March 11, 2018
Sunday Afternoon Tea - Striving for Peace on the Internet
I have decided to do everything in my own ability to seek more calm and peace in my days. Of course, there is a lot outside of my ability to control. There will be no perfect days until I either go to Jesus or He comes here. I can, however, do something.
I was having a series of very stressful days recently. So much going on that my hands were shaking as I typed one morning. I had already enjoyed reading from a devotional and the Psalms but that day it was not enough. The stress was threatening to become overwhelming fear that the burdens of life were too much to handle.
Of course, I know better. He has never failed me. I recalled the times when I thought there were no solutions to my circumstances and God miraculously met every need. People have said through the years that they wished they had my faith for provision and I have told them they would not have wanted the numerous trials that built that faith.
There was the time we left Michigan to move back home after a year of unemployment. There was barely enough cash to put gas in the U-Haul and none for food. We had rented a storage unit for only one month and we had a place to stay while friends were on vacation... for two weeks. After that?
I felt as if I was on a high cliff and God was asking me to jump head first, only without a parachute... free falling into His arms of protection. We had to move since the house we were temporarily renting had been sold so He was much like a mother bird pushing her children out of the nest. They doubted they could fly but she (He) knew better.
What followed were a series of miracles so amazing that Christopher gave them as a testimony at his homeschool high school graduation. God was our landing Place. The hardships didn't end right then but neither did His continued work in our lives.
I have found that sometimes it is the big stuff I find easiest to handle. When one must jump off the cliff because there is no where else to go... you jump. Recently it has been the day-to-day stuff that grates on my peace and what I realized that morning was that I could control some of it.
I don't know about you but there are few things that are in my control that robs my peace like my online presence. Thankfully, after years of snarky and hurtful comments on the blog (if Mother Theresa had blogged, she would get them I am certain), comment moderation pretty much put an end to that.
However, my email Inbox and Facebook and Instagram and everything else brought to me through my browser... they are all fair game. They are also mostly within my ability to control.
The first thing I did was to unsubscribe to about seven or eight email subscriptions, all having the ability to bring unsettling news of the day. I even took the website where I often get my news off the Bookmark Toolbar of my browser. Honestly, I have plenty of ways to hear what is happening in the world.
I had already begun to eliminate email subscriptions for those websites I rarely visit. It is the Inbox equivalent of decluttering a room but this time getting rid of stuff you like that are in the way of enjoying what you love.
First I got rid of what I no longer needed, then I began to get rid of what was robbing my peace. I'm sure there will be more email tweaking but now what is left are emails and links to places I actually want to read.
I did a major "Unfollowing" on Facebook last week. Their changes in algorithms tended to bring up what I'm not all that interested in, anyway. (I do have "see first" on the most important people and websites marked.) I'm fairly certain that Facebook can be a very real robber of peace for a lot of people.
My Instagram feed is probably 70% nature photos and since the big post-election clean out... I don't have to do much to it. I do temporarily follow certain authors whose books I will be reviewing and sometimes I keep them on my feed... mostly they eventually are "Unfollowed". I both love and do not love their new algorithm. I like when they offer suggestions for nature photographers I may enjoy. I do not like how they do not always have the feed in chronological now.
As for the things out of my control, all having to do with relationships, one I made peace with just by forgiving. That is my husband and I always have to remember that he says things because he bipolar. He has been having some very bad days lately. His symptoms are usually brought on by environmental allergies.
Another reason for the lack of peace that day was an online friend that I haven't had much contact with in years and honestly... I use the term "friend" loosely. In that case, I just had to... let it go. I mean, really let it go. As in taking their website off my browser. They were going down a path that I knew would bring disagreement and it was time to part online ways. It's funny how that happens on the Internet.
I do appreciate the real online friendships I have developed through the years. Many are people I've met through blogging who have become friends, even if we only communicate at Christmas. A few I hear from often. I pray for them throughout the year as they pray for me and I cry with them over the death of a husband, the death of a beloved child, prodigals, illness, unemployment, etc. These are true online friendships that overlap with the real world.
Otherwise, we must stop and think of what is real and what is... not. If we are being upset by something said by somebody who doesn't even know us, if we need a certain amount of "Likes" on our posts or photos, if we are ingesting a constant source of negative material... we need to rethink what we are allowing to come back at us through the computer screen.
Have I noticed a difference? Definitely! I'm certain there will be further tweaking because I am reminded that for the most part, what is coming to my attention is only there because I opened the door in the first place.
As for you, I am very blessed that you opened this door and stopped to stay awhile. :)
Photo: My neighbor's barn at sunset a few years ago.