Recently, I chose to do a thirty-day media fast as part of my church’s emphasis on prayer and fasting. When I took inventory of my media habits, I was alarmed to discover the amount of time I spent watching TV and browsing social media platforms.
Out of Control Media Habits
Honestly, I am a little embarrassed to admit the amount of media consumption I was accustomed to. I always “needed” to be listening to the latest podcast episode, keeping up with my YouTube subscriptions, and knowing who posted on Facebook. I planned most evenings around which show or movie I would indulge in to escape the piles of chores and to-do’s around me.
So, when my pastor challenged the staff to consider giving up something for thirty days, I knew my media consumption habits needed to change. So, I got specific and began to plan. In total, I decided to remove five outlets from my regular media diet. I also decided to use my newfound availability to read, pray, and memorize Scripture.
The Start of My Media Fast, Changing My Nightly Routine
During the first few days of my fast, I had no major obstacles due to the novelty of my decision to deprave myself from normal comforts of life. I found myself interested in my book and excited to start something new.
Things started to change by day five. I came home each night and saw the piles of dishes, loads of laundry, the unchecked to-dos and my inner comfort-seeker wanted to check out for the evening. I was shocked to discover how much I was drawn towards the screen every night. There were days when all I wanted to do was hit the power button and zone out.
Over the next few days and into week two, it became less of a struggle and more of my new routine each night; eat dinner, clean the house, read a book.
When My Media Fast Tested Me
The real test came at the end of week three when my husband was out of town for work and I was left alone for three days. Knowing myself, I proactively made a list—”what I will do in his absence.” This was very effective on the first night. The third night was a different story.
The day started with a migraine—one that had me in bed until after noon and left me in a foggy haze the rest of the day. Once out of bed though, I busied myself with housework. By dinnertime, I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was mentally check out.
I began plotting how I was going to only watch a movie while eating dinner. I reasoned since I had a migraine, I couldn’t read as that would only hurt my eyes (as if watching a screen wouldn’t!). I was anticipating the pleasure of escaping for a few hours and had every intention of turning on the TV. I rationalized it in every possible way. After all, movies themselves are not bad. I am not sinning by watching a movie, right?
That is when the Lord spoke to my heart and said to me, “You told me you were not going to watch TV for thirty days. You are not honoring me if you do this.” With a wave of holy conviction and slight embarrassment, I confessed my sinful heart to God and reminded myself why I was completing the media fast in the first place. I was fasting from media in order to remind myself that in all things, I ought to turn toward my Savior, not a screen. I thanked God for keeping me on this path and rejoiced that he was still doing a work in my heart.
What Is Real, Life After My Media Fast
While my media fast has ended, my media consumption habits are forever changed. For starters, my regular intake of entertainment and social media has dramatically decreased. The lure of the blue hue is no longer appealing and the FOMO on social media is extinguished. All those experiences were cheap imitations of the real-life that God is calling me to live.
I am more mindful and aware of others need. I’ve found that I’m better able to show up to life instead of waiting for the next escape. Since my fast ended, I have finished three books, memorized a chapter of the Bible, and enjoyed more time with my husband, friends and family.
That is real life. It’s not the fake reality I used to escape to in a desire for comfort. Now, when I sense that desire, I’m able to address it rather than try and numb it. I’m able to bring my true presence to my everyday life so I can serve others well and experience true community. Removing the noise and distractions is the best thing I could have done for my soul.
Knowing God Is Better
I’m not writing this to boast about my revamped media consumption habits. I am writing to encourage you. It only takes thirty days to radically shift your perspective on your media habits. While the process of change—with media consumption and other idols—is ongoing, a thirty-day period really will open your eyes.
So, take a hard look at your own life. What is consuming your time and attention? Ask yourself: what is better, investing in the latest _____ (Ex. show, trend, expense, etc.) or investing in your relationship with your Creator? Whatever that “it” is, I guarantee you can survive thirty-days without it. Having been there myself, I can tell you that by God’s grace, he can and will speak through that experience if you humbly listen.
As a result of fasting from media for thirty days, my prayer life is the most intimate I have ever experienced. Those precious moments in the morning with the Lord could not compare to the pleasure of seeking comfort in entertainment. I found comfort in his presence and I would not trade that with living vicariously through social media. I hope you will join me in the pursuit of Jesus above all else. Whether your heart turns to media or a number of other things, that thing will never satisfy. God is better.
A version of this article was originally published at cpcsmallgroups.net.