Becoming a Greenhouse

Becoming a Greenhouse: How Deactivating Facebook over the Summer Changed My Life

At the beginning of summer, I always start with a to-do list. Usually the list consists of getting in shape, eating well, catching up on some great novels, and learning a new skill. This summer, I added a task that I’ve never really put on a to-do list before: getting closer to God. Though the necessity of adding this task to my list initially eluded me, over the summer God revealed to me how in need of it I really was.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been a follower of Christ all my life. I grew up in a Christian household, and I was baptized on my 12th birthday–I was a John 3:16 Christian. I recognized that Christ is our savior and that He died on the cross for all our sins and for me, recognizing who he was and what he had done was enough. Going to church once a week was enough. Occasionally cracking open the Bible when it was convenient was enough. Praying before I ate and before I went to sleep was enough.

At the beginning of this summer, something clicked, and suddenly I was incredibly aware of how nothing I did was nearly enough. So, I added the item to my list: to get closer to God. I started by taking C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity out of my dad’s office library. I read about 20 pages before I put the book down and turned to TV and the Internet. Weeks later, just when my goal for the summer was all but forgotten, God swooped in and took over.

On fourth of July weekend, I went to New York to visit my cousins and we went to church that Saturday[1]. The worship service was touching, and the sermon was electrifying.  After church I just couldn’t wait to get back to my mission of actually getting closer to God.  When I got back home, I tried to start reading Mere Christianity again and got through a couple pages.  The chapter that I read wasn’t particularly inspiring, and I could barely get through it. I found myself at a roadblock. I have heard all my life about the importance of a relationship with God. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God” is hand-stitched on a pillow on my couch, and yet I couldn’t even explain what it meant to truly do so. I knew I had to make a change, something drastic; so I came to the conclusion that it was time to take out the distractions in my life, ergo deactivating Facebook.

I honestly didn’t realize how much time I was spending on Facebook, until I didn’t have it anymore. I thought that I’d miss Facebook most when I was at home on my computer and that would be it, but it turns out that I missed it consistently throughout the day. Whenever I was waiting at the bus stop, sitting in lab while the centrifuge ran for ten minutes, or even waiting in line at Subway, all I wanted to do was aimlessly scroll through my newsfeed. In those empty moments, it was as if the world had suddenly gone quiet, and I was able to finally hear my own thoughts. Deactivating Facebook felt like I was coming up for air. Suddenly “getting closer to God” didn’t seem so abstract anymore.  My prayers were getting longer, and my Bible studies more in-depth. And it wasn’t so much that I was finally off Facebook, it was that I finally had the strength to stay off Facebook. For the longest time I’d always tell myself, I can’t imagine living without Facebook, and here I was, living without Facebook. My mental boundaries were suddenly shattered. If I could stay off Facebook, then I could certainly do the things that I’d always put off for tomorrow. I could finish Mere Christianity, I could wake up every morning with the Word, and I could be in constant communication with God. Every “empty” moment was an opportunity to talk to God, or to open the Bible, even if it was through my iPhone app.  The time that I spent reading scripture gave me so much clarity on what was preventing me from making that final step to walking hand-in-hand with Jesus.

1 John 5:11 states, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and this life is in His Son.” I glanced over this verse as I read the rest of 1 John, which is full of such great wisdom, but when reading a passage in Mere Christianity, the significance of this verse came back to me.

“A Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble—because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time..any good he does comes from the Christ-life…he [the Christian man]  does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because he loves us.”[2]

Being a Christian, for me, had always been a matter of following Christian traditions: going to church, praying before I ate and before I went to bed, and occasionally going to Bible study “if I had time for it”. What I never realized was that all I needed to get “closer to God” was to let Him in. To allow Christ to live through me, so that I could move from living my life for myself, to living it for God.  “The roof of a greenhouse does not attract the sun because it is bright, but becomes bright because the sun shines on it.”[3] Now I am a greenhouse, and the only way I can become bright is through Christ shining on me.

[1] Elizabeth is Seventh Day Adventist, and observes the traditional Sabbath by going to church on Saturday

[2] C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity, pg. 63

[3] C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity pg. 63

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