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.


Sandi said...

This is a good reminder. A lot of wisdom here. I have to be very careful too. On an old browser I used to have, I switched my news preferences to Spanish (which I don't speak), so if I saw a picture that looked important I would know to go look for that news in English. Everything else remained a blissful mystery! I figured if the moon twirled of its access or aliens invaded, someone would mention it.

Seek peace and pursue it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brenda, I have never met you in person and probably never will in this life, but I consider you a friend, I have loved your blog for several years now. When I first "discovered" you, I went back and read earlier posts that I had missed. Hope you will be around for more years or till He comes, and will not let any snarky or otherwise not nice comments get you down. There are those of us who love you and your words of wisdom. Blessings to you, dear friend, Sharon D.

Jane P said...

o! I like your ideas about decluttering the inbox. Need to do some of that myself.

Jane P said...

Beautiful cut off in my comment.

Little Penpen said...

This is a great post and I have done the same. I have unfollowed a LOT of people on facebook and I can now get on and get back off facebook in a very short time. I do love instagram, but I follow a lot of crafty people and just love to see their photos.I don't go there every day, but when I do, it's like attending a quilt and crafting show! I like Sandi's idea above, putting the news in great idea!

Rita said...

So much anxiety I have had lately. God has answered a huge prayer request for me and yet the doldrums continue. What is that about? Like you have said we must search out peace and be as calm as we can. Thank you for this blog post.

Wendi said...

I've been lurking for a while, although this will be my first comment. I did a little FB decluttering after the election. Last week was tough and some things online added to my saddness and discontent. I do believe your post was a timely reminder that I need to do some more online decluttering.

Bess said...

Well said, Brenda. It's amazing how few blogs I still read that I "started out" with. But yours is one I do still read. I also keep cutting back on time spent on the computer, which helps me prioritize where I visit online. Keep the wisdom coming! Have a great week.

Glenda said...

Thank you for this reminder, Brenda. God bless you.

Vee said...

It is always a pleasure to read your Sunday posts and to see how you are working on or around a difficulty. Life sure is messy.

Anonymous said...

My problem is that my husband keeps sending me many things to read online. I was led to ask Jesus today what I should pray for, for my husband and the answer was "wisdom". I've been praying a long time for wisdom for myself, now I'm going to have to wait for him to catch up!

Anonymous said...

Your blog, Brenda, is one of the scant few I read regularly (for years) You have spiritual warmth and courage and practicality. My kind of friend. Look after Brenda! Mairin. said...

Yes, we must be careful who we read and connect with on-line. We won't change someone's opinion by just one or two lines on social media. Better to talk with them in person over a cup of tea or coffee!

Sallie Borrink said...

I've been "off" Facebook for two weeks. I say "off" because I can't completely leave it due to work, but I've stopped using the feed and my personal wall. I've had to give up on news. I went to Rod Dreher's blog yesterday and it was just SO depressing.

I'm focusing more and more on my own little corner of the world that I can control (my website). And reading good books and playing my piano. What else can you do?

Anonymous said...

Brenda, you are always an inspiration in letting go and letting God.

Even though I have never been connected with any social media sites, I found my concentration waning since I do read articles and some news online. For Lent I have been practicing 1-2 hours of reading in a quiet room to increase my focus and attention - and it's working. Sounds like a lot of time just doing "nothing", doesn't it? Well, I have never asked my friends how much time they spend on FB but I'll bet it adds up to more than that each day. And I rarely hear about something wonderful that they encountered while they were "keeping in touch with family and friends". Just yesterday I spoke with an old friend (on the phone) who posted a photo on her page and immediately got a snarky comment from a daughter-in-law with whom she has a difficult relationship. It caused hurt and resentment and did not help their relationship at all. Don't even get me started about how FB and Twitter have become the chief source of news for many folks -and we wonder why we are a nation divided.

Thank you for your faith-filled insights, Brenda. You are helping more people than you know, at least on this side of the veil!


Nancy said...

This post is why I keep reading your blog. As for FB, I only have four friends and most of the sites I follow (39) are connected to my church denomination and other Christian ministries.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I’ve been saying, for the last year, that we can control what we see and read! You’re post is a perfect example of how to do it!

We don’t need added stress, we need time with the Lord, to help others, to encourage one another.

I’m grateful that we met online, and always give thanks for you!

Mairin said...

Janet (anonymous) is so right there about FB: "I rarely hear about something wonderful that they encountered while they are 'keeping in touch with family and friends' I can walk down to the shops and in random encounters with strangers come home with very good things I can share! I try for intentional presence!

Anonymous said...

You're right. I recently rid myself of FB and Instagram. FB had to go after the election. Too much negativity and hostility. I have so much more time now!

Angela said...

I've been doing the same thing lately. I'm getting so many emails that I unsubscribe to 5 a day and they still keep coming.

Cynthia Berenger said...

Your words gave me much to consider as I rethink my online presence and interactions. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! I have been reading your blog for years but have never commented. This post hit so close to home for me today. My faith has increased immensely over the last 4 years, especially learning that everything happens in "God's time" not "my time". He WILL provide. As a recent widow with NO family, I have moved from a 2 bedroom home to a 1 bedroom apartment! Downsizing will certainly make you see what is important and what is actually needed. Along with getting rid of stuff, I got rid of Facebook altogether (I always just read things but never posted). I still read your blog and only the ones you have links to. I also got rid of my old church and am looking for a new one. During my times of trouble, I kept being asked to minister to others because "you need to stay busy", but sometimes I needed ministering to but no one had the time. I also limit my internet time to just checking email (and junking most of it) and checking things like online banking. I did not mean to carry on so with my troubles. But just remember there are folks like me that DO NOT make snarky comments on blogs. We all need to be more kind and encouraging. If I don't like a blog, I don't read it. Bless you Brenda!

Jean said...

Well stated, Brenda - Thank you! Longtime reader of your blog. "Peace of mind" has been a frequent topic in my thoughts lately. One of the intangibles whose assurance money cannot purchase. After the Presidential Election, everything shifted my perspective of online connections I used to enjoy. I began to dislike (and not respect) many of the views belonging to folks I had never met "in real life." Once this was realized, I knew it was time to pull the plug.

I'm so thankful that you keep writing and giving glory to God. <3