September 8, 2020
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4–6, NIV).
Friend to Friend
Grandma passed away on my twenty-fifth birthday. Of all the women in my life, she best modeled for me steadfast devotion to one’s husband. Grandpa wasn’t perfect, and neither was she, but she remained a devoted wife through wartime, followed by a lifelong marriage. Grandma did, however, have one passion that lured her away from her family. She loved to read. When she needed a break from Grandpa’s big personality (or her rambunctious grandkids), she’d disappear into the bathroom with a library book.
Over the years, Grandma checked out so many books from her local library that she came up with a system to prevent herself from accidentally checking out the same books multiple times. On page thirty-six of every book she read, she’d underline the page number in pencil.
While she always had books throughout her house, I don’t remember ever seeing my grandmother reading one. She never had a paperback covering her face when I was in the room. Not when we painted with watercolors at the kitchen table, not while I swam in the pool, and not as we watched a show together. It was always her face that I saw.
Just as Grandma made sure there was never a book in her face when she was with me, I try to keep my face out of Facebook when I’m with my family. Over the years it’s gotten harder and harder. I am very much like my grandma, with quiet sensibilities, and my husband is like my grandpa, with endless energy and charisma. What’s more, we have three equally strong children in our home, with constant questions and loud voices. As an introverted, highly sensitive person, I get overwhelmed regularly, and social media is a tempting way for me to escape the stress. Unfortunately, when I pull away for a few quiet moments online, I rarely come back rested and ready to re-engage.
When I turn to my phone to cope with stress, I don’t return to my family more able to handle the stress. When I sneak away to social media, I don’t return to my husband and children more socially available. When I put my face in Facebook, rather than the Good Book, I don’t find the help I need when it’s time to face my family again.
Back when my oldest was four years old and my youngest was a newborn, I started turning to Facebook on my desktop computer during their afternoon naps. When the children woke up, I’d shut it down and leave it in the office. Because I’d not used the time to prep dinner or put away laundry, I always felt a bit guilty, but even so I was able to leave my distractions behind in the other room and dive into family life again.
Things changed when my phone outsmarted me. Once Facebook had a permanent place in my pocket, it became a permanent portal—able to transport me away from my family. Even if we were physically in the same room, I wasn’t necessarily there with them. Facebook was no longer simply a naptime vacation but an all-day form of escapism.
The effects on our marriage are doubly compounded because our spouses have their own virtual rabbit holes offering them an easy escape route as well: text threads with friends keep them laughing, and the news can get more of their facetime than we do.
When Jesus spoke of marriage, however, He told His followers not to let anything separate them from their spouse. Matthew 19:5 tells us that a husband will leave his family and be united or hold fast to his wife. I’ve always loved the King James Version word choice: cleave. God created us to leave and then cleave. Unfortunately, in this present culture, we leave one another and cleave to the wrong things.
The Hebrew word for cleaving is kollaó, which comes from the root word kolla, meaning glue. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill white school glue. This is spiritual superglue that binds us together, making us one. To separate from each other requires a ripping so intense that shards of the one remain embedded in the other. That’s why divorce and estranged relationships with kids are so painful. Today, however, many of us leave without leaving—we leave our families and cleave to our phones. Escaping our loved ones was never God’s plan for us.
Now It’s Your Turn
Leaving our phones and computers in another room is a good first step, but most of us don’t set such a precautionary boundary. When we don’t make the choice to leave our temptation behind, we’re making the choice to allow the temptation to remain.
It’s hard to hold fast to someone when you’re holding your phone. Perhaps you could use a short social media sabbatical. Is it possible that a 40 Day Social Media Fast would help you to hold fast your loved ones again?
Dear Lord, I don’t want to escape from stress or people anymore. Teach me to hold fast to You and to the people You’ve given me. It’s hard to stay committed; please help me recommit. I want to put down the phone and touch my loved ones, to close my screen and open my arms. Bless my friendships and bless my family as I learn to bless them with my undivided attention.
In Jesus’ Name,
More from the Girlfriends
Wendy Speake’s new book, The 40-Day Social Media Fast is available for pre-order now. For forty days you’ll fast from social media in order to get social with the Lord and the flesh-and-blood blessings He’s put in your life.