Maybe the Daniel Fast will fix my problems

Last year I spent my life unbecoming who I was. Several realizations in 2017 led me to face my problems and issues instead of pretending they didn’t exist. I wanted to stop balancing between God and the world and find sure footing with my Savior. I couldn’t pretend to be the same person anymore.

The process of unbecoming broke me.

No longer could I hold to my safeguards. My soul was laid bare in counseling sessions and I was forced to face my biggest demons and anxieties. Through small groups I let go of the shame I’ve lived with and finally found freedom. For someone who claims to be an open book, I’d never felt more exposed.

Now, more than a year into this process, I realized I broke down a lot of the pieces of who I used to be without building up anything new. I’ve left things go and now in my life is silence. Sometimes I just feel like a shell who remembers the human experience but can’t quite feel it herself.

Now, don’t be alarmed. That isn’t a statement of depression, just realization. My life was filled with facades and stripping them away left me here. At first, I blamed the medicine I had to help with anxiety. Surely it was why I felt so bland. Until I intelligently quit essentially cold turkey and after two weeks of dizziness realized it went deeper than a substance altering my brain chemistry. I had changed, I knew this, but I didn’t know where to go.

I’m reading a leadership book with a group at my church and the one question asked us to write out our goals and plans for five years. I realized I didn’t have any. It was hard enough to formulate resolutions for this year, let alone decide where my life is going.

You could argue this is a good thing. I’m learning to follow God one day at a time and trusting He is my way. It’s a nice argument, but it’s wrong.

It’s harder now more than ever to cede what little control I feel over my life, even though I know it’s destroying me. My anxiety has been so high this month I’ve spent most of the time trying to release the tension in my shoulders and breathe so the chest pain stops.

It’s like this. Imagine it’s the apocalypse and literally everything is falling apart in society. Fires are blazing, people are becoming cannibals, and gangs run rampant through the streets. One person realizes he can’t do anything, so he sits inside spraying a plastic plant with water, acting like he’s in control of at least one destiny.

It’s pointless, right? That’s me.

I’ve realized how little I can control so I’ve let the small things blow up inside of me. Growing my relationship with God has been wonderful, but it’s opened me up to so much spiritual warfare and strife that I know is part of the territory. I just hate it and want to keep watering my plastic plant.

This morning my emotions finally reached their breaking point when the scale told me once again, despite being more active and careful about what I eat, I’m still 20 pounds heavier than I’d like. This weighing followed the first day of the Experiencing God study and realizing I want to follow God, but I just can’t do it one day at a time.

Literally every part of me is standing still.

I don’t want to be here. I want spending time with God to be full of excitement and expectancy. I want to be filled with joy and look forward to things and not be so blasé about everything. I want to be a person who managers her anxiety and doesn’t let it rule her. Really I just want to enjoy my life again. And that’s when it hit me.

The Daniel Fast.

Here are three important things to know about me: 1. I’ve never successfully completed any food fast in my life. 2. I buy so many processed foods I’m practically made out of preservatives and 3. My meal prepping involves making a sandwich with white bread, meat, and American cheese, or cooking something frozen. I am not equipped to do this fast.

When I look at all my problems, I know there’s a common solution, and it’s my faith. I need to turn to God every single day, beyond just my daily reading in the Bible, and learn to depend completely on Him. Not ask Him for the big picture, but just have Him lead me today. With the Daniel Fast, I’ll need Him more than ever to give me a strength and perseverance I don’t possess. I won’t be able to do it on my own.

More than just relying on Him to sustain me, I’ll have to have faith in my financial situation. One of my biggest excuses for the way I eat is that I can’t afford to eat better, but I honestly don’t know if that’s true. I’m too afraid to change my life and try. With this, I have to rely that God will make a way even when my bank account is like whattttt.

Plus, part of being a disciplined Jesus Follower involves taking care of our bodies and I know I’m not treating mine as well as I could. Beyond the weight I want to lose, I know there are systematic issues I need to address, like the way I fuel myself.

Now, I don’t plan to do this and then never eat sugar or meat or French bread pizza again. God gave us food to enjoy, right? Physically, it will be like a reset and a way to show myself I can do better because right now it would be hard to do worse.

My goal is for this to be one big kickstart to my life before it’s too late. I don’t want to accept that this is how I’ll always feel and let complacency convince me solitude is best. I want to find joy in my relationships and have dreams again. I want to wake up every morning (or at least most mornings) excited to see what God is going to do with me that day. I want to stop trying to do everything by myself.

I want to rejoin the human experience and I hope the Daniel Fast will get me there.

[Apologies if none of this makes sense and there are typos galore. Sometimes you need to get a thought out of your head without worrying about if everything is correct.]

I don’t have all the answers

I like knowing things. Fortunately, I’m alive in a time where I can just ask my phone a question and learn the answer. I don’t have to wonder how old an actor is or when a book was originally published. The Internet is an information super highway that takes the wonder out of situations. Curiosity is cured with a quick visit to Google, with more than 5 million results in .04 seconds.

It wasn’t until a year ago I really began to think about how frequently I let myself live in a world of knowledge vs wonder.

One of my goals this year was to do a fast each month, and surprisingly I’ve been mostly successful. Naturally, I turned to the internet last year for ideas, and came out with some like Netflix, complaining, and social media. One of the strangest suggestions I found was curiosity.

What does it mean to give up being curious? Why is having questions a bad thing? In theory, a healthy sense of curiosity is the foundation of learning. Much smarter people than me have asked the right questions for centuries and solved problems and cured diseases. That’s the good kind of curiosity. I’m talking about the dark side.

With social media, nearly everyone in the world is accessible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a name and immediately began an in-depth online investigation. I’ll go through tagged photos and end up traveling through five people’s accounts across three social networking sites and realize I’ve reached posts from 2004.

Did learning any of the information in my creep session actually benefit me? Of course not. It just means I’m a creep who probably knows more than she should about a stranger.

Consider these common situations. Maybe you’re watching a movie and want to know the ending or who an actor is. Without thinking, you’ll pull out your phone and do a search online. When you’re with friends and you’re debating something, you’ll make someone look up the answer to determine who was right.

Technology like this is a gift that I think our culture abuses. In moderation, it’s an incredible way to learn more about what you don’t know and become a more informed human. In excess, it’s a way that we remove all the mystery in our never-ending quest for knowledge and control.

Solomon didn’t live in a time where he could Google everything, but the guy had a lot of answers. God gave him the gift of wisdom, so people came to ask him questions and he always had the right response. Turns out, knowing everything isn’t necessarily the key to being fulfilled.

“Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.” Ecclesiastes 1:8

After a long life and 1,000 women, Solomon was tired and a little cynical. The summary of the book of Ecclesiastes is ‘everything is meaningless.’ He married foreign women and followed their gods and the more he learned, the more he lost focus.

Even though it’s unlikely any of us will have 700 spouses and 300 concubines, we have similar opportunities to be distracted by the things we can know. Instead of wondering about something and let it go, we close the gap and solve the problem that likely wasn’t even important.

In my own life, I know this search for knowledge is because I have such little control over everything and like Eve in the garden, I want to eat from the tree of knowledge so I know things, too. This problem is about more than internet searches for me.

I’ve watched the finale to a show I’ve never watched just so I knew how it ended. I’ll watch award shows I don’t care about just so I can be a part of the conversation. I’ve binged shows I didn’t love so I could have conversations with people who are fans.

Perhaps my worst curiosity flaw is needing to know the end of a story. Most people are appalled by my lack of concern over spoilers. Regrettably, I’ve ruined movies and shows for people because to me it isn’t a big deal. I want to know how it ends so I can enjoy the ride. The moment-to-moment anxiety is gone because I know what’s going to happen.

Even this morning I went to Wikipedia to read a plot of a movie to make sure the dog didn’t die. It only occurred to me after I began writing this that I clearly broke my ‘no idle curiosity fast.’

We all want answers for different reasons, but I believe endless searching can put us in the same place as Solomon. Even when I know more, am I any more content or satisfied? Definitely not.

“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one.” Deuteronomy 29:29

We are never going to have all the answers. Even if I can Google most questions and learn the correct responses, I’m never going to be fulfilled by my knowledge. There will always be more.

This is why, October and beyond, I want to be more intentional about what I learn. It doesn’t mean I’ll never Google something again, only I’ll think ‘how important is this to know?’ and ‘what will I gain by learning this information?’

I don’t have all the answers, and I never will. I’m going to stop trying to know everything and enjoy the ride as it comes. Even if it means I have to sit through an entire movie and not know how it ends. Yikes.

#noidlecuriosity

A week of being unsocial

One week ago I turned 28, but more importantly I stepped away from social media. Like I didn’t even check my birthday notifications stepped away from social media. Because I’ve been asked a surprising amount of times how my week without these online platforms has been, I decided to write about it. You’re welcome.

  1. It’s really helpful to tell people you’re taking a break

Pretty much as long as people have been taking breaks from social media, I’ve been judging their decision to let everyone know. I thought it was just for attention so people would ask why and say I’ll miss you. Maybe it was for some, but I’m off my judgy train.

Frequently, especially in this past year, I’ve fasted from social media for a time and I never posted about it. Honestly, it’s like being self-righteous in reverse. Maybe the long con of being self-righteous? Instead of looking all high and mighty in a post, I get the privilege of telling people when they asked if I saw something ‘oh, I’m fasting from social media right now.’ Barf.

I decided to tell people to avoid a year of people asking if I saw someone’s post. Because then it’s a million ‘I’m not on social media’ conversations I didn’t want to have. This is one decision I’m so grateful I made. It’s a rare feeling for me.

While people have asked how my week has been and we’ve talked about my time away, no one has assumed I saw something online. No one rolls their eyes when I talk about my break because they already know. It’s actually been kind of magical.

2. You have to work harder to distract yourself

I wish I had a nickel every time I picked up my phone and just stared at it, begging for it to entertain me. In reality, I’ve deleted most gaming and social apps that distract me for this reason. Just because you cut the bad boy from your life doesn’t mean you don’t wish he’d text you now and again.

Sometimes I put the phone down and realize it has nothing for me, or I browse my apps and open something random to entertain myself. I’m really into browsing Amazon and checking for weather pattern changes.

3. Social media sites are all like ‘I just can’t quit you’

Turns out leaving social media isn’t super easy. It took me four days to unravel all of its hooks in my life, like links to other accounts and notifications on my laptop. At one point I thought I had them all and then I still received more.

Instagram has been the worst. Every couple of days it sends me an email with posts I’ve missed since being in my account. How creepy is that? I’ve unsubscribed twice. Hopefully it will stick this time.

This is why we need some time apart, social media.

4. Taking pictures is a different experience

I’m not saying I solely took photos to share online. I just mostly took photos to share online. Going into this, I knew I’d have to find a balance between visually documenting my year and knowing I wouldn’t have a place to showcase my happenings.

I decided to create a Flickr account, which feels very 2003. This way I can track photos throughout the year by date to remember everything (without having 10,000 photos on my phone [I’m already halfway there])

If you’re ever like ‘I wonder what Chelsea’s year looks like, check out my page yo

So there you have it. I haven’t missed it yet, but then again going a week without is nothing new for me. We’ll check back in a month.

 

 

A year of being unsocial

For almost half of my life, I’ve been active on social media. I remember getting a MySpace at age 15 and carefully taking my profile picture to show off how deep and mature I was. In case you’re wondering, I set a digital camera self-timer and sat across the room with my bangs across my face and the classic look of being misunderstood. Naturally I was wearing a Harry Potter t-shirt.

Considering it was my first journey into social media, I’m not sure how I knew that was the norm. It was before MySpace the Movie exposed the concept of using angles to make yourself look better and I certainly wasn’t a scene kid committed to that lifestyle.

In a time where your parents frequently received CDs in the mail with trials of America Online, I was just beginning my web experience. My dad had Internet before most people, meaning I was on AOL Messenger before it became the sensation of AOL Instant Messenger. ChellyBelly911, hit me up.

What did we do in the early days before social media? It’s hard to remember, honestly. For awhile I played Bingo online and did the A/S/L game with strangers. Thankfully, things weren’t as dangerous back then. GorgeousGeekyGuys.com just *understood* my obsession with the cast of Lord of the Rings and I printed pictures of all my favorite hotties.

Yes, that’s what we did. Printed pictures of hot guys to hang on our walls. What a time.

The social side of the Internet continued to blossom with sites like Xanga and LiveJournal (I had both), but it hit its stride with MySpace. I spent so much dial-up time blocking phone calls so I could pick the perfect background and song for my page. Cultivating your Top 8 was crucial and being able to add more was revolutionary.

At age 17 I made my Facebook account. My sister was in college and guaranteed me it was the site all the cool college kids preferred. Twitter came at 19 with Instagram following shortly after. I guess YouTube happened somewhere too along with a million other sites that tried but couldn’t compete with the big guns (looking at you, Google+). And yeah I know there are more popular sites like Tumblr and Pinterest but I’ve got to get the point of this post soon.

Now as an almost-28-year-old, it’s interesting to look at the evolution of social media use. For some kids, Facebook has always been around. They can get tagged in baby pictures and have their own account. They missed the years where it was cool to poke people and the question wasn’t ‘what’s on your mind?’


It began as a simple way to stay connected and share funny images. Writing on Walls to say you missed someone’s face was the norm. Is it even still called a wall? I wrote that instinctively. No, now it’s a Timeline. I lived through the crises of our generation when the layouts would change and everyone would like pages that served as petitions to bring the old way back. Surprisingly, this never worked.

You posted a status to actually update someone. When I look back and see everything I shared, it’s frankly embarrassing. I would update like five times a day and most of the time no one even liked my statuses. This is when my life with social media starts to take a turn.

At some point, those likes began to mean something to me. Maybe it was learning more about the platforms through my public relations major that made me want to perform better online, but I think it was a cultural shift.

Here social media went from a simple way of staying connected to being unique and heard. Slowly, we began to cultivate our images online. Not everyone, mind you. Some people probably share things today and don’t care about likes. Even writing that I think, then what’s the point of sharing?

And that is my problem.

My family is very smart and funny and fortunately I have received a fraction of both these features. As a result, social media became a good outlet for me. It took time, but eventually I found a way to combine my talents with a way of entertaining people online.

Listen, I don’t write that because I think I’m so amazing and everyone loves me. Then again, Jimmy Fallon did say my name several times on television because I am so creative and funny so you be the judge.

It really started with Twitter. I barely passed 500 followers and didn’t get a lot of retweets, but got told just enough I was funny that I kept tweeting. I began to share less on Facebook and focus my updates on things I could make funny. When Instagram launched the Stories feature, it was over for me.

By this time I was deeply invested, committed and reliant upon social media. It felt like as long as people liked me there, I was good enough. I wanted to keep pleasing people. When a post didn’t perform well, it would make me second guess everything about myself.

If I’m being honest, it felt like my social media persona was a version of myself I could control. My entire life I’ve known that I’m kind of a divisive person. I’m overall likable (she said modestly), but I’m also a lot. I’m intense and not really great at keeping my opinions to myself. In real life, you never know what I’m going to say. I never know what I’m going to say. With social media, I could select the best parts of me and give them to the world. It made me feel liked and good.

Naturally, it also made me feel more insecure.

When you present a controlled version of yourself, you can’t help but worry about all the untamed areas someone might encounter. The way friendship works in this online world only made it worse.


Fasting social media isn’t a new concept for me, but this year it held more weight. As my relationship with Jesus continued to grow, I made decisions focused around following wholeheartedly and several times I knew this meant distance from online communities. It was then I realized so much of my online communities are my real communities.

People told me they missed seeing me online. Others said I seemed like I was disconnected. This online version of me had become a substitute for real relationships. Sure, I saw my friends IRL, but so much more of our communicating was done online. People didn’t miss hanging out with me, they missed seeing what I shared online. I was disconnected because I wasn’t engaging online.

To be clear, I’m not saying this as a slight to my friends. In fact, their words were an eye opener for my relationship with social media. What their words told me was without social media, I didn’t really know how to stay connected.

Even worse, my actions have led social media to be a part of my identity.

Around Easter of this year, I decided to take an extended hiatus. This is where I learned about my problems with community, but I also learned something incredibly valuable. Social media does not have to be a part of my life. Even of people expect it or say it’s sad that I’m going, it doesn’t mean I can’t leave it behind. It doesn’t define me.

Eventually, I came back to it slowly, but as the weeks rolled by, I found myself becoming more and more dependent again. I unfollowed a lot of accounts that brought nothing to my life, but spent more time watching Instagram Stories as a distraction. I’ll scroll Facebook for hours, even if most of my time is just spent unfollowing video and meme accounts that I don’t want to see.

When I was away from social media, I read a lot. Now, I can’t keep my attention long enough and always find myself picking up my phone to distract myself. All I want is to be distracted, to see if my photo received more likes, to see if I’ve received any messages. I’m so tired of it.

I just need to limit myself, you say, and I get the suggestion. For many people who can casually browse and don’t live for the applause, it’s great advice. In my case, it doesn’t matter. I start with a spade and say I’m only going to move the dirt a little and soon enough I’ve dug my own grave where my phone has again become my most important relationship.

Since I turned 25, I’ve themed every year of my life, and 28 will be no different (in a sense). Following the transformation I’ve experienced over the last year, this year is Dedicate 28. It’s about not living for myself, but always pursuing Someone Higher. I quickly realized I needed to use this year to leave social media altogether.*

*so altogether means personally because I’m in digital marketing so obviously I have to use it for my job

In the days leading up to it, it feels like more people have reached out to me saying I’m funny and they love my stories and I’m just like GET BEHIND THEE SATAN! Jk, but really. I keep going back and forth wondering if this is the right choice and then I realize how tightly I’m holding onto something that I only really use to glorify myself. Sure, I share about God, but I know those likes aren’t for Him. I only want them for me.

Then I think about this site and the platform I’d like to have. It seems foolish to abandon social media if you want to grow something in 2018. First, I have social accounts for my blog and never use them. Second, if God wants this to go somewhere, He doesn’t need a Facebook account.

So I’m doing it. September 10, 2018, will be my last day until September 11, 2019. Usually I just quietly take a break, but I wanted to give people a warning in case they try to reach me. If you want to be my friend and continue our relationship, we have to do it the old fashioned way, meaning we’ll text each other about hanging out but never actually have time to do it. If you tag me in things, I won’t see it. If you send me a message on social media, I won’t see it.

You can text me screenshots, though. I do love some of the funny things that can be found online.

With this, though, I’m also challenging myself to be a better friend. Instead of relying on seeing your updates, I want to actually engage with you.

This is going to be a challenging year and prayers are obviously appreciated. I know God is going to use this time to help me refocus and continuing pursuing Him more without the distractions of glorifying myself.

See you next year, friends.

Except not if you read my blog. I’m going to keep doing this.