Sunday, March 20, 2011

The addiction of the internet.

Since 2006 I have been battling an addiction that has pretty well become acceptable and not even considered an addiction more so a way of life to many people all over the world.  Addiction to the internet is something very real for me. 
Let me start off by saying, the internet is a great thing I think. Its a terrific tool, I am a fan of social networking, blogging, youtube, swagbucks, forums, the like. I dont know what I would do if I just couldnt "google" a question or share a photo with family, its the norm...when it is within limits. 

In 2006 I joined a forum for Moms with babies due in March 2007.   This would be a terrific way to journey with different Mothers from all over the world during our pregnancy and birth of our children.  I think it was a terrific idea in some ways. I have met some AMAZING Mothers and there isnt a time that goes by that I dont thank God for every single one of them, including the ones I may have never seen eye to eye with.  Even though the board had drama, and split numerous times, other communities to keep in touch were built and with facebook coming into the picture, I have been able to keep in contact with a lot of them, have met some of them, and talk on the phone weekly with others.  BUT, when online communities start to consume you, and even though all this splitting, evil talk and gossip happens and you STILL think its THAT important, I think its time to sit back and consider if this is a good thing or not.  
Thinking back four years ago and even more recent in other online communities I have had to face the fact that I allowed these online communities to be more important to me than my family and God.  I go on these places to post a baby belly here and there, post pictures, countless pictures of my children (I filled up two photobucket accounts to the max just with pictures I would be sharing), and bragging or complaining about life. I have completly doubted myself as a Mother, my instincts have fallen completly out of whack because I believe I need 16 different opinions first before I decide what to do with my sons runny nose. These women have been there with me in my massive ups and my massive downs.  That I give thanks to God for. There were some women that went above and beyond to help me though some massive depression issues, even if they lived in another country.  Thats awesome.   Thinking back, that was way cool.  But my reasons for being on these forums, while I really do care about these other Mothers, and feel I know a lot of them personally, and love them to peices, another side of my reasons for being on these forums were out of selfishness. Look at me, and lets see how many replies and views I can get with this.  Thats not awesome. Thinking back, that was not cool.

Then comes myspace... then came my mortal enemy.... Facebook. Oh sometimes I wish I had never signed up on that blue and white screen.  Satan for me, really tempts me on the other side of this computer screen... and has won this battle more times than I have. 

Refresh, refresh, refresh, if the buttons on my internet browser could wear out, that one would have worn out a long time ago.  "Did anyone see what I just posted here? Who is going to "like" that today?"   Heaven forbid I miss something.  "Did you see that honey, your son just gave me a high five for the first time".  "No dear I didnt.. I am busy right now, important stuff happening here online..."

My memory card took thousands of pictures of my children.  These photos HAD to go up on these places to share.  These are memories... but for who?  For us, or all these people online I communicate with more than my husband?  When I deleted my Facebook account a few months ago, you know what I had to do? Save all my photos on my hard drive because I dont even have any of these pictures in albums yet.  If my children wanted to see a memory in photograph...I would have to log in..and they could see them after I replied to a few of my friends statuses or I replied to the recent drama on a thread.  And heaven forbid they not co-operate for another cute photo because then that would just mess up my whole life if I couldnt get the photo I wanted up online. 

And this went on from 2006 till just this past Christmas.  4 years of spending more time in front of my computer screen instead of watching my kids do things.  For crying out loud I even had the videos of my boys learning to walk uploading before I would call their Grandparents. 

I have cried over my discust of what I became for days, I have wanted to just kick my own butt because I felt just so ashamed.  So repulsed with me telling my daughter "just wait a minute" for about an hour because she wanted to play with me but I was to busy waiting too see what was going to happen next on the networks I have so enthralled myself with.  Telling my husband I would be "up stairs in a minute" only to head up there a few hours later when he is dead tired of waiting and falls asleep.  Using my Bible to prop up my keyboard a little more....

Scrolling up to see what I wrote, man I wrote a lot.  This is all stuff that I have come to realize FULLY only just recently.  There has been many times before where I have "left" the internet, taken breaks from groups I belonged too, taken the computer into another room where it wasnt as easily accessable...but this past fall it wasnt me on my own who decided I needed an adjustment in my way of life, it was God...and let me tell you, it wasnt a gentle nudge. He probably gently nudged me 100 times about this.  I can still remember fighting with my husband over something that was going to inconveinence my time online... and he went into the bathroom and I had followed him up there.  I got mad because he took the kids stool for the lightswitches and placed it in the middle of the hall... and how I couldnt wait to get online and bitch to someone about this in my status. How dare my husband move a stool out of his way so he could go to the bathroom. The nerve right?

I was on our landing in our stairway and God spoke to me so clearly to wake up and smell the roses.  He has blessed me with children, and with a husband who has sacrificed over and over for me and instead of talking to my husband about whatever was goin on that day I want to get online and bitch about a step stool?!?!?!?!?! 
Tears flowed and flowed and flowed and I bawled leaning over my kitchen counter.  I ripped the computer modem out of the wall..I took it all to the laundry room where it sat for a while.  I made the decision that day that I would slowly start to remove the things I needed from the sites I had so much in, and get off them before I had another day of hitting that refresh button. 

I did do it slowly, some people got it, some people thought I was being totally insane, stupid... at that time I decided that we would have no computer at all. After talking to my husband about it, we decided to keep the computer and the internet but I would have a time limit set on the computer and passwords galore so I couldnt access the world wide web when I wasnt supposed too. But passwords get figured out easily, addicts find ways.  Thats what I am, Im addicted to the internet.  

I left facebook completly, thats no easy task, its not the easiest place to leave, your account can be reactivated almost instantly if you "change your mind".  Kind of frustrating.  I had to set up another email account and link it to my Facebook because I had to delete my email address as well associated with it.  And that would still take 180 days... Its sure not easy trying to rid yourself of these things. 

I decided after this that I would do a fast... I decided to do a fast related to food.  I felt God wanted me to fast so this seems logical right. Lots of people do food fasting.  The third day in, God really spoke to me again, saying even though I left Facebook, He wanted me to do a internet fast. "wake up and smell the java Candace, even though food is a struggle for you, the interent is WAY HUGE for you"  For 21 days I didnt go on the internet.  Praise God what an amazing time that was.  The scriptures I am finally reading, the routine I now have for private Bible Study and prayer and worship in the evenings is far beyond anything I ever had.  Putting God FIRST instead of squeezing Him in after.  The games I have got to play with my children.  The smiles and fun we have..REALLY have, and not just for ten minutes, take a picture of the fun and then post it online to show everyone I am a "fun Mom". 

Now I have allowed myself back on. There are days the temptaion is there MASSIVELY to be on the internet all day.  There have been days I have been on it for much longer than I know I should be.  The fact of the matter is, if my children are awake, they need ME. Not my backside.  And I know this..I KNOW this.. and yet its still a struggle.

Like I said in my post earlier about food addictions (I have an addictive personality) I am MADE for MORE than this.  I am made for more than social networking. Its great in moderation.  I love the fact that I can blog here in moderation, it doesnt take long (well this one sure has but generally) and go on about my day. But there is a world around me, in my own home that NEEDS me.  God did not create me for neglecting my children, my husband, friends, family, my God definatly did not create me to neglect HIM. 

God needs to be first.  He died for me.  I know that.  I get it, but I havent always shown that outwardly.  What kind of faith based parenting am I teaching.
Am I teaching my children that God comes first or that checking email comes first?
Am I teaching my husband who hasnt given himself to the Lord that a Christian wife is allowed to be constantly selfish or that she is to honor and love her Husband?

Ephesians 5 speaks so clearly to me these days: (verses 15-20)
 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,  singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.  And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. "

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I need to be addicted to serving Jesus and being like Christ in this life.  Not to anything else.  Jesus is Love.  If I am addicted to loving others like Christ loves us... would that not be a much better picture? 
This journey is just the begining for me. Its only been a few months of breaking free.  I even typed in Facebook into my browser this morning, something I hadnt done since I deactivated my account.  By total accident, then the thought arose "perhaps God wants me to re activate my account?". NO, stop right there Candace. Thats now God speaking to you. Does that sound like God? No it doesnt. This is why its so important that we all be reading our Bibles and having quiet time and prayer with God, so we can understand His voice from the worlds. 
The enemy uses what we are tempted by the most that take us away from God to make us fall.  He's not some dumb red guy with a pitch fork.  He is very very smart.  But God is smarter. And if we focus on Christ inside us, we can beat Satan.  Amen to that. Thank You Jesus!

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