3yrs

Brittany and I moved here on March 31st, 2012.

We were excited.

We were wondering.

We were hoping.

We were by ourselves.

It was probably the first time in my life that I had no clue of what my life would look like a year from that moment.

Last night we sat on our porch and talked about some of the biggest things we’ve learned in our 3 years in the Atlanta area.

Here are mine:

1. I have learned over 3 years that I have nothing to prove.  When we moved here I felt like I had to prove myself.  I had to prove to other people what I was capable of.  I had to prove to myself that I could function and make it without any reliance on family or friends or comfort to bail me out or help me get to where I wanted to be.

It was a little exhausting at times.  I think early on in our new city I was so consumed with trying to show people what I could do that I didn’t enjoy what I was doing as much as I could have.  I was trying to prove my abilities and my talents, and in the pursuit of proof I had sacrificed some joy.

Thankfully, I know myself better now.  I know that I am really good at certain things relationally or professionally and it wasn’t just a fluke that I was good at those things in Orlando.  Because those things are a part of me, not dependent on my surroundings.

In the last year I have enjoyed life more than I ever have.  And I would attribute that largely to the fact that I’m not trying to prove anything to anybody.  Myself included.  I can enjoy work.  I can enjoy friends.  I can enjoy alone time.  I can enjoy Brittany.

And I have nothing left to prove.  There’s no point in trying that anymore.

 

2. I learned in the last few months that for the last 10 years or so I used my diabetes as an excuse to not pursue a healthier lifestyle. That sounds strange.

In my 20s ,my blood sugars were managed so well that my doctors are super impressed.  I’ve had diabetes for a while and I know how my body reacts to certain foods and how much insulin I need to give for certain things.

Anytime I would exercise, that would throw my sugar levels for a spin.  It would be difficult to keep them on track when I added a sudden change like working out.

So it was easier to just give more insulin and make less healthy lifestyle choices.

2015 has been a story of my pursuit of a more healthy me. Not just my diabetes, but my whole body and mind and spirit.

Yes, it has been a little difficult to figure out how to manage the sugar level while I have been changing so many daily things.

But I’ve learned it is worth some of the hard work and some of the frustrating moments.

And I learned that diabetes was just an excuse I used to justify not doing things to heal my body.

 

3. I am valuable.  From the time I was born I lived with the lie that I was a burden to people.  This stemmed from thinking that my mom getting pregnant with me was the final straw on my parent’s marriage and they got divorced because I was too much of a burden on their family.

I am introverted.  Growing up that wasn’t a term I was familiar with.  And neither was anyone in my family.  So people genuinely thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t function in the same manner they did at social gatherings.  That reinforced the lie that there was something off putting about me and nobody really liked Jason unless he put on the mask and acted like everyone thought he should.

Anyways, God has healed my heart and my soul specifically in this area in the last three years.  It has taken some time.  And I’m certain there are more dark places in my life related to this lie that will eventually be uncovered and I’ll need healing in those areas as well.

But I no longer feel towards myself the things that I did most of my life. I have learned and am continuing to learn to love myself in a profound way.

I sincerely believe that I bring great value into the workplace that is unique to me.  I am extremely valuable as a friend and there is no friend like me.  I am incredibly valuable as a husband and nobody loves in the exact same way that I do.

People that have gotten the opportunity to know me are fortunate.  Not because I am better than them.  But because I have great value.  And if they see it or not, that isn’t my concern.

That sounds arrogant, I’m sure.  But I’m also sure that it isn’t.

Loving yourself is vital.

Thankfully I’ve experienced this in a way I used to think wasn’t possible.

 

Home

I grew up with an odd sense of “home”.

That word is so warm and delicate.

I lived with my mom and stepdad and every other weekend I would live with my dad and stepmom.

Both places were home.

Neither place was home.

I was so lonely.  I just didn’t realize it.

Home is where I am completely at peace and completely myself.

I listened to an old album I recorded the other day and I cried thinking about a friend named Kyle.  Kyle knew me better than most people.  And in a time in my life where a lot of people judged me constantly, Kyle never did.  He accepted my inappropriate jokes and didn’t look down on my questions about God or about what we were recording.  Kyle is 7 years older than me and way more talented musically, but he always treated me as an equal and deferred to me.  Occasionally me and Kyle talk or text.  And no matter how insignificant the conversation…

i am home.

Brittany is my home.  We are so close that I think only a small percentage of people in the world are fortunate enough to understand what we share.  She is more influential in my life than anything I listen to or read.  I can sit in silence for hours with Brittany and feel more peace than 30 seconds of quiet around anyone else.  Brittany and I are woven together with fabrics of depth that are so smooth and comfortable.  I wrote her a song once that I guess would be titled “You Are My Home”. There is nothing hidden.  And anytime we are alone…

i am home.

Asheville, NC.  Colorado.  New Smyrna Beach, FL.  Gainesville, FL.  Kauai.  Alpharetta, GA.  Those places are all home.  I lived 28 years in Orlando, FL but it does not feel like home.  That used to be rooted in resentments.  But not anymore.  I am going to Gainesville, FL in a couple of weekends and I am excited because it literally feels like I am going home.  I’m not sure how to explain that.  But when I drive through the city of Gville…

i am home.

Brittany and I went hiking with Adam and Kylie over the weekend.  You might not know who those people are, but I do.  The 4 of us climbed 600ish stairs together to see a waterfall that brought tears to my eyes and spent about 2 hours in a car each taking turns picking a song to play from the ipod.  I spent the morning with my 3 favorite people in the state of Georgia.  I see so much beauty in those people.  I am blessed to say that when I am around them…

i am home.

I text Aaron and Casey pretty much every day.  They have known me for almost all 30 years of my life.  Occasionally I stop and think about how much they love me.  And I cry real hard.  I don’t see them very often.  But every time I text one of them or they text me, no matter how silly our conversations…

i am home.

When I watch The Wonder Years.  When I listen to soulful singing.  When I stand on a stage and talk about Jesus.  When I watch shows at Fox Theater.  When I play sports video games.  When I am in my 10yr old Dodge Neon…

i am home.

One of my biggest insecurities is that people only love me for what I can do for them.  But in the places and the people and the moments that I feel at home, I am resigned to the calmness that covers me like a warm blanket.  I only bring myself to the table when I am home.  And people aren’t waiting for something from me.  They are thankful for me.  And in the moments that I am completely at ease with everything and everyone and myself…

i am home.

Costa Rica

Hello all you lovely people! Hope this letter finds you well.

Thank you all so much for supporting my trip to Costa Rica! Whether that meant supporting me financially, emotionally, prayerfully, or mentally. I am so grateful to have gone on this trip! As always, God taught me a thing or two.

We had a great time as our team bonded instantly and created so many memories to last a lifetime!

Our mission was to work with Roblealto, a childcare center for children who are at-risk due to poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, abuse, behavioral problems, and substance abuse in the home. Currently there are approximately 700 children receiving services through Roblealto.

Our team was divided into two groups where we worked directly and indirectly with the children. One group went to 15 de Setiembre and the other went to El Manantiel.  My group (15 de Setiembre) scraped old paint off a large outside concrete wall, cleaned trashcans and the kitchen, and worked with children in their classrooms helping them learn, eat, and dress/groom themselves.

We prepared workshops for classrooms of various ages. When I say “we,” I really mean one of the adult leaders of our trip, Britni. God used her in an amazing way on this trip. Kind of similar to how I was used so specifically last year. God is so cool, huh? Britni already had over 50 Spanish/English lesson plans prepared as she volunteers at North Point Community Church by teaching Spanish to preschool aged children. This was SUCH a blessing. She orchestrated and strategically planned every lesson and taught us what to say and do! She provided crafts, songs, and games for 120 children in Spanish and English!

My partner and I were assigned to the 2 and 3 year old classroom. I thought, “easy, I got this. I work with 2 and 3 year old children all day, everyday.” Working with 2 and 3 year olds that speak English is vastly different than working with 2 and 3 year olds who speak Spanish. And for some reason, my Spanish was NOT coming back to me. AT ALL. Imagine me timidly singing a lengthy body part song, in Spanish, afraid of what those toddlers thought of my Spanglish. It was pretty comico. They were adorable, but not convinced. How was I going to make a life-lasting impression on these kids when I couldn’t even speak their language?

Lets get back to the wall. THE WALL. Oh man. At first, this goal seemed totally obtainable. We were so pumped to get the old paint off the wall and start a fresh new coat of paint on that bad boy. Well, to this day, that wall still remains half chipped away at. Kind of like my heart. Haha, just kidding. But seriously. We all started getting stir crazy as we chipped away and chipped away. And chipped away. My performance driven nature was being chipped away at. We did this for 7 hours for 2 days. On the bright side of things, our group really got to know each other! Also, 15 de Setiembre was very appreciative of our diligent work! We made small gains for a bigger purpose.

In the wee hours of the morning on the 3rd workday, I was called to duty as the team nurse. One of the students woke up in the middle of the night with some pretty gut wrenching stomach pains. I came in with my backpack full of goodies and anti-this and anti-thats to ease the pain. Well, it kind of worked. I stayed back with this student all day at the hotel and nursed her back to life. Okay, I made her drink water and laid there watching Friends all day. Nothing life-changing, right? Another moment of making small gains for a bigger purpose, maybe?

So that was kind of the theme of my trip this year. This might be cheesy, but a quote by Vincent Van Gogh sums up the trip for me- “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” A verse in 2 Corinthians also comes to mind: “For we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen since what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal.”

This year I went on a trip expecting some big things; some life-changing, obvious, apparent moments that needed to be seen by all. But God had other plans for me. He was using me in a small, unseen way that softened my heart a little bit more.  The tiny chips of paint, quietly staying with a sick student, singing broken Spanish to 2 and 3 year olds. Those things may seem small, insignificant, or may appear unseen to some. But I believe those series of small things may add up to great things. Great things that are eternal and aren’t temporary.

 

This also encouraged me through everyday life. Everyday life is not like a mission trip. We do mundane, small things most of our days. But that is okay. Better than okay. God can use us in great ways by doing smaller things day by day.

 

Love you all. Thank you again for supporting, loving, praying, and being there for me. Those texts, donations, emails, and prayers may have seemed small, but they helped me out in a huge way. I want to encourage you to seriously think about going on a mission trip. It is such an amazing and eye-opening experience!

-Brittany

Brittany and Adam

I cried a lot this week.

For me that is remarkable.  I used to hate it when people cried.

I even spoke up in front of a group of people and almost lost it again.

Currently, for me, my emotional response to life is a good gauge of the condition of my heart.  When I am feeling things in real time (happiness/anger/love/pain) it is a huge win.  Most of my life I have buried all feelings way deep down because I thought emotions were ridiculous.

Although occasionally that might be true, I was wrong about that pretty much all of the time.

We went on a trip with high school students from our church to the beach.

I cried every day Sat-Wed.

It wasn’t because I was exhausted.  It wasn’t because the music was amazing.  It wasn’t because the messages preached spoke to my heart.

Those things are all true, but didn’t elicit emotional responses.

During the main sessions where music was played and preaching was heard I would look around and find where Brittany and Adam were sitting in the huge room.

Brittany is my wife and Adam is my brother (cousin technically).

On Saturday night I saw Adam standing there as a small group leader for 9th grade guys.  And I thought about Adam’s life and our relationship.  I thought about all of the pain that has occurred in Adam’s life.  I thought about how I would be totally understanding if at this moment he hated God and never wanted anything to do with Him.  I thought about the fact that I have been able to be so close with him as he has walked through the most unbearable task of digging into the old wounds of his life.  I know a lot of Adam’s story.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if he hated God.  But here he was standing in the same room as me…still reaching out towards Him.

And I cried.

On Sunday night I saw Brittany standing there as a small group leader for 11th grade girls.  And I thought about Brittany’s life and our relationship.  We’ve been “together” for over 9 years.  I thought about all of the pain that has occurred in Brittany’s life.  I thought about how I would be totally understanding if at this moment she hated God and never wanted anything to do with Him.  I thought about how close we are.  I thought about all of the tears that I have seen her cry as she has had the courage to walk through the unbearable task of digging into the old wounds of her life.  I know better than anyone Brittany’s story.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if she hated God.  But here she was standing in the same room as me…still reaching out towards Him.

And I cried.

On Monday night I saw myself from God’s perspective.  He thought about my life and our relationship.  He is the only person that knows my entire story.  He thought about all of the pain that has occurred in my life.  He whispered that He would be totally understanding if at this moment I hated Him and never wanted anything to do with Him.  He thought about how close He has been to me and knows there were times when I just couldn’t feel that.  He put his arm around my shoulder and with tears in His eyes He leaned close to me and told me how proud He was of me for walking through the unbearable task of digging into the old wounds of my life.  He knows my story better than anyone.  And He wouldn’t be surprised if I hated Him.  But there I was standing in the same room with Brittany and Adam…still reaching out towards Him.

And I cried.

Cross ≠ My Worthlessness

The Trinity is a strange thing.  But the basic idea is that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are 3 different forms of the same thing.

Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father”.

Reading through the Gospels, it appears that Jesus came to change people’s mind about who God was/is.  He basically told all of the religious people of the time that they had it all wrong when it came to their beliefs about the character of God.  Which was pretty insulting to people who had spent their entire lives devoted to meticulous study of the ancient Scriptures.  Keeping the Trinity in mind, I would say that Jesus (God) came to change people’s minds about Himself.

Growing up I hated Easter.  I enjoyed church services around Christmas because it was the good news of a baby coming into the world.  Christmas was already filled with good tidings and church services around this time always seemed to add to that.  But there was a drastic change of tone from pulpits just 4 months later when we got to Easter.

A lot of my Easter experiences focused more on the Cross that Jesus died on than the resurrection.  I mean, we understand death and pain and suffering, so it was easier to lean into that subject than the unusual and almost unbelievable idea that someone came back to life.

I would feel such overwhelming shame around Easter.  And so…I hated it.  I had enough shame in my life and when Easter came I felt a fountain flowing guilt and shame (guilt and shame).

God hated me.

“Would He devote that sacred head, for such a worm as I?”

Actually sang those lyrics.  And eventually I began to believe them.

I was like a worm in the sight of God.  And He hated the thought of me.  Much less having to look at me.  And I learned that God killed his son Jesus so that instead of having to even think about me, I could be covered entirely by the thought of His perfect son.

If you had a child and sent your child to die for someone you were absolutely disgusted with, don’t you think that person would feel even worse about how you viewed them?

Easter was rough, because it constantly reminded me of the cross.  And in all kinds of churches I attended growing up, the cross was used to make me feel really really bad.  After all that Jesus had done for me (dying on a cross) why wasn’t I more perfect? It was as if I was slapping Jesus in the face…while He was dying on the cross because God hated me so much.

Things have changed for me the last few years.  I stopped listening to what people had to say about the cross and started asking God what He had to say about it.  And I have read through the New Testament and people don’t seem to feel an overwhelming sense of shame when they speak of the death of Jesus.

Rather, the cross is talked about in the following:

– You can boast in it

– It is the power of God in us

– It brought peace

– It cancelled all my debt.  I don’t owe God anything.  Ever.

– It brings healing

 

That doesn’t exactly sound like the cross I heard about growing up.

It sounds way better.

It is still hard for me to think about the cross and not feel a tinge of “ugh”, entirely related to my past experience.  But I am starting to look at the cross in a new light.

A light that says that God is Agape.

A light that says that God has loved me from the very beginning.

A light that says that God did not send his separate Son to die for a worm, but rather He came Himself.  And He (in the form of Jesus) laid His life down.  Not because He is disgusted with me.  But because He loves me.

A light that says that God doesn’t just see Jesus (or Himself) when He looks at me or when He thinks about me.  But He sees me for who I really am.  And in the middle of who I really am He loved me so much that He stepped out of Heaven to show me.  He still sees me.  And now I see Him more clearly.  And we have a fondness when we look at each other.

A light that says that the cross ≠ my worthlessness.  Rather, it is the greatest expression of how much I mean to God.

A light that says the cross was never meant to make me feel shame.  That when I think of the cross, I could feel quite remarkable.  That God would be willing to do this and feel the utmost pain to be able to completely identify with me.

A light that says God is Agape.  And I am His precious son.

It seems that Jesus came to change what we thought about
God (Him), much more than change the way God (He) thought about us.

 

Family Is Every…

Last week on the radio I heard a DJ talking about his dad.

“In fact, when I get to Heaven, I more so hope that Daddy is proud of me then Jesus is proud of me.”

I know that he was going for a little bit of the shock value with his statement.  We live in the Atlanta area where the majority people have grown up with the pressure of measuring up to a God that will always be disappointed in them.

But sometimes the truth is a bit shocking when we say it out loud.  I would suspect that a lot of people feel exactly the same way as that man does, but they don’t have a mic in front of their face and an audience listening to them Mon-Fri.

One of the phrases I have come to understand isn’t true is one of the most common things that you hear in American culture.  It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, black or white or somewhere in between.  Seemingly every feel good movie emphasizes this as well, making it more prone to be believed by every person in Western society.

Family is everything.

And when this is said, it is literally meant that family is the best of and the beginning and end of everything.  It is used to often try and insinuate that any type of conflict within a family is not only bad, it is wrong.

And the truth is that I probably bought into this for half my life.  I loved my mom.  And she loved me.  But until I was about 16 years old I was held hostage and in bondage to being emotionally responsible for my mom.  She had a pretty rough life.  And as a small child whenever she was sad she would seek me out and pick me up and hold me close and somehow that would make everything better.  Because family is everything.

But as I grew older I carried an enormous responsibility to make sure that my mom was happy.  Because if she wasn’t, she looked at me to fix that.  She had an abusive father who devalued pretty much everything that she did.  Her first child died about 2 months after he was born.  Her first marriage ended before I was even born.

But I was born.  And as long as I was alive she had something to turn to when the pain of those things became too much to bear on her own.  She knew that I made her happy.  And overtime as her second marriage began to unravel she still had me there with her.  Unintentionally I was placed on a pedestal in her eyes and I was the medication for all of the things that had gone horribly wrong in her life.  She took the heap of brokenness and held it out in front of my 15 year old life and with tears in her eyes pleaded with me, “can you please fix all of this?”

And when the natural tension occurred in my teenage years between son and mom, it almost became too much for her to handle.  If I wasn’t there for her to comfort and console her, what else did she have?

That was an incredible weight upon my back that I was never intended to carry.  And it was incredibly painful for both of us when I decided to lay that burden down and not allow it to crush me any longer.

I’d get talks from other close family members about how “you need to be there for your mom.”

Because family is everything.  And I was every. last. thing. to my mom.

The fallacy of this statement is that sometimes children die.  Married couples surrender to divorce.  Fathers and Mothers abuse/manipulate their children in ways other than physically.  Teenagers move away.  Rebellion tears families apart.

And if family is everything, then in these instances the people left in these families either feel inclined to embrace the toxic relationships they are in, or when they can no longer do that, they feel like they have nothing in their life whatsoever.

Because their family was everything.  And in one way or another, their family is either completely gone or is drastically different than what they used to know.

And loneliness sets in.

I do believe that how you love (verb tense) your family is very important.  And if you do a poor job of that, eventually your family will suffer the natural consequences and you will no longer be able to even fool yourself into believing that you still have a deep emotional feeling for one another.

But I do not believe that family is everything.

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is greater than whatever dysfunctional family I grew up in.  I also believe that he is greater than the incredible relationship that my wife and I have worked at maintaining.

In the earliest story of a relationship in the Bible, it was God who placed major conflict in the lives of Adam and Eve as a result of sin.

As a result of sin,

God…

created major conflict…

in the lives of Adam and Eve.

After sin, the outlook of Adam and Eve changed.  They no longer were looking to God for their value and acceptance.

They were looking to each other.

Because family became everything.

When that didn’t work Adam looked to find his worth from his job.

Eve looked to find her worth from being a mom.

In Genesis 3 you can read that God created some major conflict.  He knew Eve would be looking to Adam for more than Adam could give her so God told her that she would “desire her husband, but that he would rule over her.”  Then he tells her that she would experience great pain as it relates to having children.  If you do a deeper study of the words you learn that it isn’t necessarily talking about childbirth.  But hints at a deep pain that a mother will experience as a result of having kids.

Then God, knowing Adam would eventually turn to his job to fulfill himself, when he realized that family wasn’t everything…he told Adam he was going to create conflict in his job.  It was no longer going to be easy.  Your job will cause you pain.  And God created the pain.

I believe this story tells a great deal about the heart of God.  That He is willing to go great lengths to show us that He still is the source for all of the love, acceptance, value, worth, security that we are hoping for.  And he will, and does, create conflict in every other arena of our lives so that it is incredibly clear that they cannot satisfy the deepest longings in our lives.

I’ve heard people say “God wouldn’t want us to be at odds with each other.”

Or way worse, “It breaks God’s heart that we are having trouble in our relationship.”  The shaming factor in that sentence is rather outlandish.

Maybe it does break God’s heart.  But the conflict was ultimately created by God for you.

Not because of your wayward children or abusive family.

So when your closest relationships break down, rethink where you are placing your anger.  I would suggest directing every single ounce of it towards God and begin to be honest with Him.

Because only He can handle the incredible amount of anger and frustration you have as a result of all of the painful conflict that has accumulated in your life.

No man can handle that.  And I would say that we cannot handle it ourselves either.

When you clearly see that family can be awesome/amazing/joyful/loving/close/generous/hateful/shaming/deceitful/selfish throughout the course of your life, you will more easily see that the old cliche “family is everything“, just isn’t true.

And God is willing to create conflict in those relationships to show us.

And that makes me angry.

And it also points me back to the Person who truly is capable of being everything.

Why I Left Facebook

FB

 

The keyword is “I”.  This isn’t a post on what I think you should do.

I’ve gotten this question a lot since deactivating my Facebook account:

“Why did you get off FB?  Just curious.”

So here is a more complete and a more honest answer then I can reply in a simple text.

When I first created my FB account, it was like I had struck nostalgic gold.  All of the sudden, I could have a more personal “relationship” with people from my past than I ever actually had with them.

We didn’t even have to interact really.  I could just see what was on their mind.  What their life was like through tons of pictures they probably weren’t specifically intending for Jason Avera to see.  I could see the types of music/movies/books/religions/activities that were on their profile page and really get a better understanding of these people.  Where they chose to vacation or ended up after high/middle/elementary school.

Even better, I could search the name of any girl I had ever known to be attractive and friend request them in hopes that they would accept and I could get to know all of these things about them as well.

“Wow, she aged so poorly.”

My original FB friend goal was 1,000 FB friends.  Meaning,that I would pretty much accept any FB friend request that came my way.  Unless it was spam.  I would joke about that goal to people.  But it actually was a goal.  I thought it was unattainable and so in my mind if I ever hit 1K, I was going to throw a massive party and my 1K FB friend was going to be the guest of honor and I would hoist them up on a chair and we’d carry the chair around the party room all night like at a Jewish party.

I’m not even sure Jewish people do that.  Sorry.

As an introvert who considers himself a “thinker” as opposed to a “feeler”, I was so comfortable in this new social media.  In some ways, I could make myself known in more depth than I ever could in casual conversation.  I could be witty, sarcastic, encouraging, and “like” things to show my approval of others with just a few quick strikes on the keyboard.  It was so much easier to express myself on FB than it was in face to face interaction with people.

And did it feel good when I’d post something and get 12+ likes on it.  That would make all of the other time I spent on FB not knowing what I was doing seem worthwhile.

I’m not saying any of this “tongue in cheek” as a passive backhand to anyone else.  I’m totally serious.  Like I said, this is about why I left Facebook.  I have no issues whatsoever with anyone being on it.

Back to me.

Some things I learned from my time on FB that led me to get away from it:

1.  There is a time for everything.  There was a time in my life where I was friends with certain people or certain groups of people.  Some of those relationships were healthy, others weren’t.  But they had their moments in my life and were very influential on me.  And FB was awesome to get to peek into those people’s lives and see what they were up to.  In the same way that maybe a 10yr high school reunion is a good way to catch up and spend some time dwelling on the past.  For me, FB seemed to take all walks of my life and combine them into this huge melting pot that I could check as often as I wanted to.  I could put my mind back on some amazing times in college with my roommates or be reminded of friends I had from vacation bible school (church summer camp) as a kid.  I could reconnect with some friends I had from old jobs.  I could see a picture and remember the good feelings of being innocently flirtatious with a girl when I was in middle school.  My specific fault was that, for me, FB blurred the lines between times that were meant to be a memory (good or bad) and my present life.  I was finding that it was easier for me to resurrect things (good or bad) that were meant to no longer live in my heart and mind.  Since these things were constantly in my FB feed every single day, they slowly made their way into my mind and into my heart and into my life…every single day.  There was a time…a great time…that I was involved with different sports when I was younger and I was really good at them.  I love those memories.  But it doesn’t mean that those memories should flood my life today on a regular basis.  That time is over.

Which leads to:

2.  FB was a catalyst for me to live in a fantasy world.  If I was bored, I could just check FB.  If I was lonely, I could just check FB.  If I was mad, I could just check FB.  If I was super excited, I could just get on FB and post about it.

If I was experiencing something amazing, my first inclination was to go to FB, even more so than to currently experience whatever I thought was amazing.  Rather than live my life, I was beginning to unintentionally chose to either focus on my past via FB or engulf myself in the lives of 1,000 other people (900 of them I wouldn’t talk to otherwise).

This is a “me” problem.  I tend to avoid real time feelings on a regular basis and FB was the easiest and most comforting way to do this.

I’m not saying that FB isn’t real life.  But for me, it was a way to hide from my real life and my real feelings and my real pain and my real happiness and my real love.

That doesn’t sound very manly.  But it was very true.

It had become a fantasy that I could go to every hour of every day and temporarily forget about…well…I don’t remember.

3.  I was placing my happiness  in the hands of people that I didn’t actually care about.  Toward the end of my time on FB I started to realize that I was mostly annoyed at most of the things people posted on FB.  Articles, status updates, requests to be involved in Farmville type games.  Just a constant flow of things that I’d see, that would make me unhappy.  I am aware that the point of life isn’t to be happy.  But seeing things on FB were genuinely making me less happy.  And this was ultimately my responsibility.  For a while I started “hiding” everyone that ever posted anything that soured my mood on FB.  To try and get it down to only the people that I would say that I really cared about.  Then I thought about the fact I was allowing FB to constantly annoy me.  And those annoyances outweighed the positive sides to FB.

4.  I used FB to judge the piss out of people.  That one is pretty simple.  I am a very discerning person.  That is a gift.  The downside of that is if I am not honest with my discernment and with myself I can turn that into a great ability to judge everyone around me.  It is super easy to judge someone you don’t know.  And if I was honest, I would say that I didn’t really “know” the majority of my FB friends.  Which made them prime candidates for me to use as a way to elevate myself in my own eyes as I tore them apart in my own mind.  Best thing was that they had no idea.  And I could feel so good about myself.  Unfortunately, I was asked to preach a message at the church I used to work at.  And in doing so, God used this specific tool of judgement of mine to show me how I was labeling people I barely knew and elevating myself in the process.  And Jesus came for the sick.  And my FB judgements produced self-righteousness.  And he didn’t come for that.  And I was humbled.

5.  It became sort of an addiction.   For me this can happen with anything digitally.  And my initial reaction is always: No, this is just the world I live in.  But for the first week or two I ever went off FB, I found myself pulling my phone out to check it.  Then I would realize what an odd time to be checking in FB.  At a stoplight.  Going to the bathroom.  At dinner with friends.  Watching a movie.  I didn’t realize the gravitational pull that FB was having on my everyday life until the first time I took a break from it.  It was addicting.  It was a constant change/update of information from people that I knew and so I constantly had to check to see what had changed.  And as with any addiction, it was allowing me to escape the reality of my life.  But the dangerous part was that was so hard to see that it was a problem.  In the same way an addict would say, “It’s just once in a while.  It doesn’t effect anyone else in my life”, I could make up similar gibberish to justify how often I was on FB.

 

Conclusion:

I have a Twitter account that I mainly use for checking up with sports stuff and comedy stuff and news stuff.  I really like Instagram because photos are so difficult to offend.  You usually admire a picture in some way and it is hard to make a hateful Instagram post.

Leaving FB is just one step for me to live in my own reality in real time.  I’m learning and loving the moments when I realize it is totally amazing to be bored for a few minutes.  Or to allow my mind to wander and think about things that are affecting me negatively.  And to not escape into FB or video games or beers or Netflix.  It is way harder to dig into the thoughts deep in my mind.  In the same way I am enjoying my life much more in real time since being off of FB.  For now, Twitter and Instagram don’t have a hold of me the way that FB did.  So I can just sit in the love of a moment and experience something beautiful and maybe a couple hours later post a pic about it or something.

I can’t really see getting back on FB.  Maybe if I want to promote something I can see that.  But for me, my life is better without FB.  And I’m in no rush to go back to it.

But most all of my friends and family have one.  And that is totally cool too.