First be a follower.


I.

There had been a retweet.

Somewhere around 3am there had been a retweet. A few stray followers. Two emails to prove there were still night owls in my inbox. A single, solitary friend request. Half a dozen hearts on Instagram for a cup of coffee and fresh nails I’d painted yesterday.

This is what I’d normally find in the morning– sleep still in my eyes as the glow of the screen takes me network to network, collecting the communications I’d missed over night. Stale. Two-dimensional. But sacred to me.

 II.

The fast had begun 13 days back.

Thirteen long & hard tweetless, likeless, instragramless days.

A social media fast. The first of its kind for me.

Before this, I’d pent up fasting with the Bible definition and reserved it for pockets of days spent without calories. But to fast is to seek God with an obedience. To insert prayers unceasing where there would have been food or that object that causes you to hunger for more. And so I learned to pray as constantly as I would have been checking my social networks. & though Peter & Paul never pulled off from the streams I think God would have found the same barrier in getting to them if they’d been tweeting while Jesus was preaching with swooping hands from atop the mount.

 III.

Conviction set in thirteen days before. The start of the fast. As if Conviction had met Overwhelmed at the middle school dance and they chatted for hours by the punch bowl and decided they never wanted to leave one another.

I’ve chipped away at God’s power in my life with my social streams. It is my way of rebelling, of saying,“What you ask of me is too hard–I’ll turn to photos of faces I don’t see any longer to envelope me… distract me from the things you really want of me.”

“I’ll turn to 1,500 followers (maybe the mass grew heavier over night), I’ll post a photo at 10pm and be witty with 140 characters right before bed so that I can wake up “Like”d in the morning and with even more “friends” who won’t ask me hard questions. Won’t challenge me. Won’t mold me but will admire for all the fragments of a lens I’ve given them into a life where my hair is always perfect. And always, I am laughing. And always, I look skinny in sepia-stained lighting.”

My body- unrest. My thoughts- ungodly. My spirit- unfed. Me- in a steady, steady habit of checking my email before bed. 3am. 6am. My day sculpted already by the responses I must give to people, the photo albums I’ve devoured, the outfits I’ve seen pinned and the people I must call. Found & digested, all before God could even lift up His mighty hands and say, “Child, when shall I gear you for the work ahead? When will you realize the world will never feed you?”

It’s idolatry and I’ve never known it. To make myself a demigod. A person worth following. And if my streams, my Instagrammed actions, my blog holds no trace of the God who rains in my soul then who am I? Who am I & what kind of example have I been for you?

IV.

Two weeks in and it was coffee dripping on the stove beside me as I stretched and waited to add a packet of sugar. The longer it took, the better before I found a spot, tucked my knees beneath me and eyed the Bible in my lap.

I’m here God. It’s painful but I’m here. And this isn’t my day, it’s yours. You made it so plant in me what you need me to do for you today.

It is the hardest prayer I’ve had to pray. It’s gritty & gravelly & uncomfortable. And it has taken days of saying it to make me feel like it’s semi-habit to let God in and take over all the drivers’ seats before I let my soul be touched by hundreds of fingerprints across half a dozen social streams.

I’m listening more. I’m heeding more. I’m not picking up the phone–straight in the middle of the messages He has strung for me– to snap pictures of verses & send them wafting into the ether for others to cheer me on & like me & call me “holy.”

I’m using. The Bible.  In a way I’ve never had to before. To scour out and find my identity. To see me– without makeup, power & likes– the way He saw me yesterday… today… tomorrow. Because suddenly–to find self worth in blog stats and comments is no longer an option. Whatever I am carving out for worth is raw… coming from one mouth. And I find it whispers to me constantly, when my ears are finally perked to listen: You are my daughter. My gem. My rose. Find worth in that, Little One. Find Worth.

And I’m learning all the curves & craters & sacred spots of this life that God was paved for me. The sky as she preps like a night maid for the thunder, fluffing pillows of hushed greys with sheets of violent yellow. A heat storm & a new notebook. Bare feet. Wine & Oreos. Christmas lights glowing in the center of September.

All the parts of life & living–my first thought no longer to smash them all into a status update for others to virtually digest. My first thought is to savor. Save the moment for me. Given. To me. By one who loves me & is too jealous to share my attention.

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17 thoughts on “First be a follower.

  1. This has “beauty” written all over it. You already inspire me every day, but this just took it to the max, girlfriend.

  2. Ouch. This really challenged me – and in a good way. I think I’m going to put off doing anything about it for a while, but I have a feeling it will come back to me – the Spirit of God was intertwined with your words.

    Coming to you via Preston – and glad I did. 🙂

  3. Fantastic introspection. You’re pioneering and cultivating a monastic perspective in the midst of the noise. I’m right there with you. Thanks for writing about your experiences and doing so beautifully!

  4. Hi Hannah, I am a new reader of your blog and think your writing is absolutely beautiful! This post literally changed my life. I’ve been feeling tied down by the Internet lately, and – taking a page from your book – I decided to try reading the Bible over breakfast instead of browsing the Web. I expected to not enjoy it very much, but it’s actually not that bad! 🙂 I feel like I’ve discovered a lot already, and it’s definitely a good way to start off my day. I don’t think I would’ve gone for it if I hadn’t read your post. Thank you for this, and I look forward to continuing to read your blog!

    Words that particularly inspired me:
    “Two weeks in and it was coffee dripping on the stove beside me as I stretched and waited to add a packet of sugar. The longer it took, the better before I found a spot, tucked my knees beneath me and eyed the Bible in my lap.

    I’m here God. It’s painful but I’m here. And this isn’t my day, it’s yours. You made it so plant in me what you need me to do for you today.

    It is the hardest prayer I’ve had to pray. It’s gritty & gravelly & uncomfortable. And it has taken days of saying it to make me feel like it’s semi-habit to let God in and take over all the drivers’ seats before I let my soul be touched by hundreds of fingerprints across half a dozen social streams.”

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