On Evangelical Guilt and Inadequacy

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I can’t stop thinking about David’s comment:

Guilt and inadequacy are, I think, a natural consequence of growing up evangelical. I’ve noticed that there are very few socially acceptable ways for evangelicals to say something *nice* about themselves, but dozens and dozens to talk about how bad they are. Your average evangelical could cure cancer *while* building an orphanage and still be convinced she was a terrible sinner unworthy of praise.

Isn’t that so true?

I wonder where the guilt and inadequacy started. The Protestant notion of sinfulness? Calvinism? An obsession with heaven and hell? The urgency of making a decision for Christ? The emphasis on our faith, our decision? The fear of works-based salvation? Fear in general?

Or is it not the doctrines, per se, but rather the people hearing those doctrines — i.e., Christian millennials growing up in Christian households, hearing that they’re going to hell for all their childhood disobedience and crushes and mistakes — that fall into a cycle of self-criticism? It always seems to be Christian kids with good hearts and high hopes who burn out and quit, suicidal and psychologically strained.

Is it legalism? I don’t think that is the answer. I ditched the legalistic rules a long time ago, and that doesn’t stop the guilt and inadequacy.

There’s something more self-sustaining than a legalistic community’s rules — something that keeps us coming back to communities or doctrines or lifestyles that burn us out. I don’t know where it started, but I do know it looks exactly as David described — an impossible search for virtue, where no good deed goes recognized or unquestioned to death.

I do to myself what others have done to me, a particular kind of shame tactic that always keeps you down and never allows yourself to have succeeded or accomplished anything good. When I was first coming out of the stay-at-home daughter lifestyle, I worked hard to get good PSAT scores, land a National Merit scholarship, and get accepted to Hillsdale College. It was the start of a new life for me.

But that wasn’t enough for the anti-fundies. “A National Merit scholarship doesn’t mean much, anyway.” “Hillsdale College isn’t that impressive.” “She’s still stuck in conservative world.”

Nothing, nothing was good enough for them.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

This sort of manipulation turns virtue into vice, and leaves you feeling inadequate and guilty all the stinkin’ time, even if you are building an orphanage. But with religious guilt, it’s a self-manipulation. It’s something you carry with you even if you block the manipulators from speaking into your life. It’s a mindset that poisons how you see yourself.

Poisons everything, really.

As I was driving home from holiday festivities, I realized that my problem wasn’t knowing who I was. I know very much who I am — my talents, my dreams, my beliefs, my faults. I’m a self-aware person, generally. But that self-awareness was no match for the guilt and inadequacy. I wasn’t confident being who I was, doing the things I loved to do, speaking the things I believed. Who I was wasn’t good enough, wasn’t right, wasn’t blameless, wasn’t like this or like that, wasn’t…well, there must be something horribly wrong with me.

Of course, there was no going back to the person I once was or the beliefs I once held, but there didn’t seem to be anything going forward, either.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

That’s what I’d like to work on this year — finding the source of the guilt and the inadequacy, putting it in a little box, and smashing it to pieces so it never finds me again. I took the big leap of paying for therapy, so we’ll see if that gets me anywhere. I’ll let you know.

Did you ever find the source of the guilt and the inadequacy? How did you smash it?

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On the Impossibility of Forgiveness

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Lately, and vaguely, I’ve been thinking about the impossibility of forgiveness. My own thoughts are not developed on that subject, except this: forgiveness and reconciliation seem impossible, sometimes dangerous, and psychologically unhealthy this side of heaven.

I want to tell that to Christian victims who feel guilt, shame, and confusion over their response to abusers, but I’ve never been able to frame it in a way that doesn’t sound like I’m asking them to deny a major part of their Christian faith.

Chris, on this post, left some powerful and more articulate thoughts on the seeming impossibility of forgiveness:

I think forgiveness and reconciliation of the kind seen in the New Testament are as rare as the physical healings also recorded. Not saying they don’t exist, nor am I saying they are unhelpful things to hope for (though they can be).

The point is, these are concentrated *foretastes* of our future redemption. And yes, the Kingdom of Heaven is now, but it’s also not yet. But for some reason (because it’s neater? because emotions are intangible?), Christians push for reconciliation and/or forgiveness like it’s a daily prayer discipline, when it’s something more extraordinary and rarer.

I wouldn’t want this to be used as an excuse for complacency, but we all have our own healing journeys and I think we need to be OK with God doing some works in slow time, or leaving them incomplete until he comes.

P.S. Check out Chris’s blog about hope, sexuality, and consent here.

No Perfect Victims

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Is it just me, or do some people seem to think true victims don’t exist?

In their mind, there are people theoretically more or less at fault, but the person less at fault is held to an even higher standard than the person more at fault: “Sure, you got raped, but hey, calm down. Respond with love and forgiveness. Right now.”

If you don’t respond with the patience of a saint, legitimate hurt and even abuse gets swept under the rug.

And if you do respond with uncommon grace, well, then, don’t forget you’re no better than anyone else. Share any complaints about the abuse or injustice, any fears, sorrows, or angry outbursts — any negative emotion, period — and the conversation gets turned around to the real issue at hand: “You’re too bitter. You’re too angry. You’re too emotional. You’re not a perfect person, either, so show some grace.”

I’m all for empowering victims to control their own behavior, thoughts, and emotions. You don’t get away with murdering white police officers in response to racism, for instance. It’s not emotionally healthy to stew in hate for the rest of your life. But it’s false, patently false, to think that just because somebody responds in a poor or even heinous way doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced real abuse, or that their abuse isn’t important to address.

I’ve been wondering why people don’t understand this, because to me, your favorite whiny millennial SJW, victimization seems so obviously a thing that happens far more often than I ever thought possible. Why isn’t it obvious to everyone?

I think there are two reasons why.

One, there’s an understanding that it takes two to tango — if you got sexually assaulted, you must have done something come hither; if someone picked a fight with you, you must have provoked them. There are two sides of the story. The victim is the cause, the abuse is the effect. There is some sort of fault on both sides. This is because…

…two, abusers don’t always look like abusers, and/or victims don’t always look like victims. Abusers can be charming, lovable, pitiable, even decent, while their victims can be moody, problematic, frustrating, and guilty of other offenses. Even victims have a hard time labeling themselves as such, because they feel to some degree that they deserved the abuse.

Many people are looking for a victim that doesn’t exist — a lovable victim with an unblemished personality and few moral flaws to speak of. They don’t see victimhood, because they’re looking for a black-and-white case between an evil person and a good person.

This seems to drive the conversation — or lack thereof — on every justice issue. Who wants to believe that racism’s a problem when some black people, in the name of their lives mattering, torch Milwaukee? Who wants to validate a petulant teenager’s feelings and dramas that seem too much like a ploy for attention? Who wants to listen to the mean kid’s sob story after she just punched her classmate in line? Who believes the prostitute when she files charges for rape?

It seems unthinkable to us that imperfect and even repulsive people could ever be victims.

But they are. And we need to see them.

A Real Life, Newlywed Christmas

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Okay, so matching Christmas pajamas aren’t quite as cute once you’ve passed the toddler years….

Well, Christmas was interesting.

I didn’t wrap presents until the day of Christmas Eve. There’s not much privacy in a one-bedroom apartment, but I managed to lumpily wrap the gifts on the bed, checking every now and then to make sure my scissors didn’t slice up the unmade comforter.

There was the usual embarrassment that my handwriting hadn’t improved in the past decade, and that (lately increasing) realization that if I still lived at home, I’d have free, unlimited bows and tags and wouldn’t have to trek back to Walmart every time I realized that, once again, I didn’t have a basic Christmas necessity (like tape).

There was also the typical what-if-they-don’t-like-it panic, multiplied by 10 since I was shopping for in-laws, and varied with new thoughts, like, “Should I give the more nicely wrapped one to so-and-so because I love them more, or should I give it to such-and-such, because I don’t know them, and want to make a good impression?” and “What cover story can I morally get away with for not buying so-and-so anything for Christmas, and does that make me a horrible person?”

(I think, during this whole time, I was also pouting after an argument with Erich. We argue chiefly during special times, like our first Christmas together. We’re setting a record for how many newlywed milestones we can ruin with bad memories.)

There were no good Christmas movies on Netflix, and my sister (who was visiting) refused to watch anything with Santa Claus, so we spent the day watching Notre Dame de Paris, a French musical adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. (It’s amazing, and it has lots of Christmas themes — marrying off teenage girls, homeless people, priests, Ave Maria….)

When that finished, I remembered I was supposed to make dinner…and have the dinner rolls thawed hours before. The speed method of sticking them in a warm oven took an hour, which meant I couldn’t put in the ham (which took an hour and twenty minutes) until an hour later, which meant we weren’t eating until much later than planned.

Everything went downhill from there.

Don’t ask me why, but the oven rack was on the highest rung, and the rolls were on that rack, touching the oven top, and burning straight, black lines onto every other roll.

The bourbon maple ham glaze called for real maple syrup, but I used Great Value’s original syrup (which made a difference), and required orange zest, but I used orange peel (because what’s the difference?)(and that made a big difference). It made so much of a horrible difference, that it cancelled out the other problem — placing the ham face down, rather than on its side, where the glaze could dribble between each slice. Since the glaze tasted so orange-ily bad, it didn’t matter in the end that it puddled only on the top and bottom.

Erich rescued the mashed potatoes with two sticks of butter. (The milk had gone bad a month ago.)

But the green beans…oh, the green beans. I painstakingly chopped off the ends of every individual green bean, until Erich noticed and gently pointed out what are you even doing and you can chop them all at once, like this, see? I got carried away with how many green beans I could chop at once, and chopped all of them, and put them all in the steamer. When the steamer dinged, the green beans, being a great many, were carrot-stick crunchy.

We spent our Christmas Eve dinner busting out laughing every time somebody took a bite of green beans.

So much for dinner. (Thankfully, Welch’s sparkling white grape juice rescued the night.)

Then came the delicate process of stuffing Erich’s stocking.

He stayed up until past midnight reading his book about animal whispering assassins. Fine, I’d go to sleep and wake up early. The next time I woke up was around 2 AM, and I didn’t feel like playing Santa at 2 AM, so I went to the bathroom instead. An hour later, I woke up, but Erich made a noise. Abort! Abort! The next time, an hour after that, I tried to leave, but he rolled over.

Apparently, seven months of marriage had synced up our Circadian cycles and left me unable to sneak out of the room and stuff his stocking without him knowing.

Then I remembered that he was twenty-two-years-old, for goodness’ sake, and who cares about being cute and secretive when sleep is on the line? So I tried to cram too many stocking stuffers in his stocking, knocked over his stocking holder and broke off the jingle bell, and couldn’t fit a big box of Hello Panda creme filled cookies into the stocking without ripping it. It occurred to me that if I really cared, I could dump everything out and try a different stuffing arrangement, but I, who just wanted to go back to bed, didn’t. I just left the Hello Panda creme filled cookie box bulging out the top of his stocking, and climbed in bed.

But it was worth it when Erich woke me up a few hours later, a quiet, giddy little boy happy on Christmas day.

“I feel bad,” he said, grinning at the Hello Panda creme filled cookies and the Pokemon dress socks and the touchable bubbles, “that I didn’t get you anything.”

Not quite true — he’d started a homemade gift at the last minute, but couldn’t finish it because he kept injuring his fingers and getting blood all over the gift. It’s still under our bed. I paid for the materials myself during our last Walmart trip.

“I’ll just go out tomorrow and get you a bunch of things.”

“No need, babe. You can just buy me random things throughout the year. ‘Merry Christmas!’ ‘Happy Anniversary!’ ‘Happy Birthday!'”

“Don’t I do that already?”

“No.”

And that, dear reader, is a real life, newlywed Christmas.

How was yours?

The Emotional Trauma of Getting a Pixie Cut

This is what it’s like to get a pixie cut.

Spend a whole year thinking about it.

Search “pixie cut for round faces” half a dozen times, decide your face is more long than round, search “pixie cut for long faces” twenty times, and then just look at generic pixie cuts because you can’t figure out your face shape.

Find the perfect pixie cut.

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Procrastinate on setting the appointment.

Panic and set the appointment as soon as possible.

Spend a restless day and a sleepless night psyching up for this moment.

Ask your husband a million times if he’ll still love you with short hair.

Feel like you’re going to puke, pass out, or burst into tears in the hours leading up to your appointment.

Think about texting your husband that you feel more nervous now than you did on your wedding day.

Delete that text because you don’t know what that says about you.

Drive past the salon a couple times.

Look completely clueless and lost at the salon, especially because everyone’s dressed up as reindeer.

See lots of pretty young hairstylists with gorgeous long hair.

Make awkward small talk with your stylist who (thank God!) is dressed as a normal, sensible human being. With gorgeous long hair.

Feel liberated when she chops off two feet of hair. Yes. This, like marrying your husband, was something you wanted and needed to do.

Wonder how this hair style looks remotely like the picture you showed, but she knows what she’s doing, right, and maybe there’s special pixie cut magic five minutes before you leave that makes it look just right.

It doesn’t look right.

Don’t say anything because the stylist loves it, and her supervisor loves it, and the random stylist who sees you sitting there forlornly loves it, and you’re a people pleaser, and you haven’t had time to overcome your besetting weaknesses, and you’ve been sitting there for two hours, and it’s five o’clock, and you can’t believe you spent half of your year freaking out over getting a pixie cut only to not get a pixie cut.

Feel upset.

Stylist gives you chocolate.

Still feel upset because you’re a complicated woman and chocolate doesn’t solve your problems.

Get home.

Sister tells you that you look cute.

Stare at yourself in every mirror in the house.

Decide she’s right.

Take bathroom selfies.

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Oh, and here’s the back:

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I mean, for not being a pixie cut, it’s still pretty fly.

Newlywed Christmas

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Erich and I are forgoing the family celebrations to spend our first Christmas morning together at our own apartment. I learned a long time ago that holidays aren’t half as fun without children under the age of twelve, so I wonder why we’re doing this to ourselves.

I want to resurrect an abandoned Bergmann tradition — looking at Christmas light displays. We used to load up our twelve-passenger van, drive to the local Sonic, order some chocolate shakes, and joy ride around the rich neighborhoods (all in our jammies, of course). Christmas music, the dark, warm van, the random caroling — those were good times.

P.S. I am beyond excited to play Santa this year. I’ve already got plastic bags filled with stocking stuffers, so I’m working out when to do the deed. Erich’s up late, so I’ll probably sneak out in the morning, fill ‘er up, and then go jump on him until he gets out of bed. He better leave me cookies. But not milk. I think our milk is a couple weeks old. (I’ll go check on that.)

Help a newlywed couple out: What are some fun holiday traditions for two?

Faith: Real or Not Real?

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Remember that idealistic thought in November about me participating in National Novel Writing Month? Well, I didn’t really. I got about a week into it, got ridiculously busy, life fell apart, baby niece and Thanksgiving happened, and then it was December. Seriously, NaNoWriMo — pick a month that doesn’t have a major holiday in it. Like June.

Despite typing only 10,000 words in the month of November itself, I haven’t stopped work on this novel. It’s helped me explain and work through my questions about faith and life.

Plot summaries always sound stupid, so to protect my pride, I’m going to give you a vague one: A girl is told she has a special, amazing gift and goes off to receive training for it –- but she finds that nobody there, including herself, possesses a “special, amazing gift” at all. Their gifts seems like ordinary human faculties that anybody could possess –- not something objectively impressive or miraculous. She must begin the hard, dangerous work of sorting fact from fiction. What’s fake? What’s real? And what’s potentially real?

A real life girl once wrote to Addie Zierman,

Sort of like Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games, I found myself thinking back to ultra-spiritual personal moments and wondering, “Real or not real?”

I wonder that every day: real, or not real? I think that I’ve encountered lots of “not real” in the Christian community and in my own faith — both flat out lies about science, others, God, and myself, and more subtle deceptions that I participated in.

As a young Christian blogger, I would share my thoughts and breakthrough moments about my relationship with God. I’d write a post about my conviction to read through the Bible, or my realization that it’s more counterproductive to bash yourself over the head for not praying at 5 AM that morning rather than just kneeling down right then and there to pray. Even then, I remember a little voice suggesting that, perhaps, it was a little dishonest to write about those things with any sort of authority, since, you know, I never actually developed a habit of reading Scripture and praying.

And I never did develop that habit. My breakthroughs and thoughts never helped me. But I’m sure it did accomplish one thing — convince other people that I had some semblance of a habit, perhaps guilt people into wondering why they weren’t as passionate about Jesus as Bailey Bergmann, maybe inspire them to have their own one week of fire for Jesus before disillusionment took over.

I would write and tell and teach about a relationship with God without really having that relationship.

I do the same thing with exercise. If I write a post about my new exercise regime, don’t be impressed. It’ll last a day or two (okay, really only one day), and then I’ll be back on the couch. Until I write a retrospective post on my months of training for a marathon, don’t attribute any sort of athletic self-control to me.

In the same vein, there’s a fad of genuineness going around the Christian world, where people are honest about their spiritual failures and shortcomings, and honest about their resolutions to change. But it’s all present tense — I am getting up at 7 AM to have morning devotions, for instance — and that could honestly be talking about one or two days, for all the reader knows. Not really impressive, not really helpful, but certainly discouraging to those of us who think they’re able to sustain a daily devotional habit.

We have a spiritual idealism. We talk about our ideals, what we should be doing, what Christ calls us to, etc., etc., but nobody — and this was my frustration with Christianity from the get-go — nobody knew what they were doing. Nobody knows what they’re doing, and everybody thinks everybody else does, so everybody feels guilty and inadequate for not doing what everybody else is doing, even though nobody is doing it.

And because idealism isn’t sustainable, the idealists get discouraged and burnt out and trash the whole project.

I get so disillusioned whenever I read a new work by a new author talking about his newfound discovery of some theological tenet or spiritual practice that’s got him all excited, because just like I don’t sustain my excitement about exercise or daily devotions, I question his ability to change just because of this one new thing.

That’s why I like reading mystics and saints and Ann Voskamp and Sarah Bessey. They write from a past tense of actual experience, not idealism. And even though I’m never going to be like them, it’s nice to think that a real relationship with God seems legitimately possible for some people.

With all of these thoughts rattling around in my head, I’m toying with the idea of starting an interview series with ordinary people about their ordinary faith. Their actual devotional life. Their actual doubts. Their actual beliefs. Their actual habits. Their actual gifts. The real, not the not real, not the idealism, not the right answers. The real.

I’m sure another major holiday and babies and life crises will  prevent me from getting on with this idea, but, as an idealist, I’m asking, would you be interested in this series? Who would you want to hear from?

The Gifts I Didn’t Buy

I like shopping as close to Christmas as possible. To me, shopping is a part of traditional Christmas festivities and must be done during the Christmas season. It’s the only time that makes shopping bearable. So if you’re like me, and still shopping for the elusive perfect gift, here’s the world’s shortest mall gift guide.

For her

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Sierra Tech Charger Clutch, $38, Francesca’s

A cute clutch that charges your phone on the go? Yes, please. Or am I the only one whose phone always dies when I’m out and about?

For him

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Plaited Wool-Blend Touchscreen Compatible Gloves, $14.95, Express

If you expect your man to text you back ASAP when it’s a bajillion degrees below outside, buy him these. (And buy me some too.)

For family

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Flannel Drawstring Sleep Pants, $6, Old Navy

Here’s how this works: get your sister the cutest pajama bottoms, throw in a thermal top, and then duplicate the look for yourself. Family jammies! (Matching pajamas would be a fun mommy/newborn or newlywed gift!)

For anyone

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Pentatonix, “That’s Christmas to Me,” $10.29, Walmart

Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever. My brother bought this for me last Christmas. I listened to it until the snow melted, and I started listening to it again well before Thanksgiving. It’s my go-to car jam. (You could also buy their new album, but this one’s better.)

And don’t forget to give the gift of yourself! Take your grandma out to eat, get your nails done with your best friend, go see the new Star Wars movie with your little brother, or learn how to snowboard with your hubby. (Been there, done that, got the medical bill to prove it.)

What’s your favorite gift you’ve given or received? I need to start gathering ideas for next year!

Bad Spirituality = Bad Storytelling

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Nothing’s better than pulling up a cheesy Christian movie on Netflix and laughing the night away with your sister. So my sister and I started Christian Mingle: The Movie with the highest hopes that it would be as entertaining as the movies from Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas.

Worst. Idea. Ever.

To catch you up on the plot, the desperate Gwyneth Hayden fakes her Christianity to sign up for ChristianMingle.com (because there are no other online dating websites in the world, obviously) and continue her budding relationship with the plaid-button-up good Christian guy she meets through the site. Of course, his mother and wannabe girlfriend sniff out Gwyneth’s fake relationship with Jesus, which leads to heartbreak, which leads to Gwyneth meeting Him instead — which the opening monologue already told you, so why did you waste a couple hours watching this movie?

It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what bothers me most about this movie. The pink, outlined, Times New Roman font? The mother’s Botox overkill? The Christian cliches you didn’t realize sounded so corny until you watched them on the silver screen? The fact that the mother and wannabe girlfriend discovered Gwyneth’s fakery after Gwyneth could not answer the world’s toughest question on the problem of evil with a Bible verse? The other disturbing fact that Gwyneth wears high heels as a missionary teacher in Mexico?

Kidding aside, I puzzled and puzzled over why this movie, like so many other well-intentioned, decently-made evangelical Christian movies, bothered me. I finally found the words over a chipotle chicken avocado melt at Sunday brunch:

What if it’s not a coincidence that evangelical movies are cringingly awful? We blame the evangelical moviemakers for their lack of vision and storytelling, but what if part of the problem is evangelicalism itself?

Because it’s not accurate to say that Christians are bad at storytelling. Christians are some of the best storytellers in the Western literary canon. J. R. R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Flannery O’Connor, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Dante Alighieri — almost every single classic author since Christ’s death and resurrection has been Christian or at least steeped in Christianity.

But none of them are evangelical.

They are mostly Catholic, or Orthodox, in Dostoevsky’s case, or Anglican, in Lewis’s — but rarely Protestant, and never, to my knowledge, evangelical. Of course, those three traditions have held longer sway in history and literature than a movement less than a century old, but still.

I don’t mean this to be a hate-fest against evangelicals, as if they’re bad at everything. They’re not. Evangelicals are good at things like nonfiction, marketing, multimedia, preaching, and motivational speaking. But I don’t think they’re good at storytelling.

It’s just not in the evangelical DNA, really.

I mean, evangelicals revere some of the best literature in the world — the Bible — but nobody sits down and just reads it, or examines the poetic structures of Genesis 1 and 2 (unless they’re liberal heretics), or notices the remarkable storytelling of 1 and 2 Samuel. They get in groups and dissect whole passages into tiny chunks that makes getting through an entire book a three-year long process. They study it to death.

And when it comes to great art and literature, many of us grew up without it, because that picture had a nude woman in it, or that movie had a couple F-words, or that book depicted someone’s tragic loss or atheism or sin, and Christians are to avoid any appearance of evil. That’s why we watched PG-rated movies, exclusively. Our “literary analysis” often looked far too much like moralism.

But I don’t blame fundamentalism for chasing the evangelical movement away from good art. I think there’s something inherent in evangelical spirituality — stripped as it is from the larger Christian history, from a sacramental emphasis, from the sensory elements of bells, incense, and spires — that makes evangelicals so bad at storytelling.

Maybe our stories sound cliched because evangelical spirituality only allows for a one-size-fits-all relationship with Jesus?

Maybe our stories are moralistic because our spirituality is moralistic?

Maybe our stories tie up in neat little bows because we’re always trying to tie up our suffering and doubt in neat little bows?

Maybe our characters are one-dimensional because there’s something suppressed in our spirituality?

Maybe our bad guy-versus-good guy is so black and white because our worldview is so black and white?

Maybe our portrayal of atheists, agnostics, Muslims, and nones is so off-base because our religion doesn’t allow us to listen to other people’s narratives?

Maybe our stories are preachy because that’s what’s most important to our faith — getting people to agree with us?

Maybe our stories, music, and art are ugly and trite because we think that truth can be divorced from beauty?

I’m not 100% sure whether this is the fatal flaw of evangelical storytelling — but I strongly suspect it is.

App for Unplugging

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Over the past several years, I developed what seems to be an honest-to-goodness, real, awful addiction to social media.

Did you know social media addiction is (probably) a real thing? Social media sites are set up to “induce changes in some brain reward pathways that are similar to that seen in drug addiction” (or so says an article asking, “Are Frequent Internet Users Addicted? Their Symptoms Could Resemble Those of Drug Addiction”).

I wrote about this before. I deleted all social media apps off my phone. It worked, for a while. But what with Google saving the URLs for me, it became just as easy to get lost down the rabbit hole with a simple click on my phone’s web browser.

I finally downloaded an app called Offtime. You choose what apps you want to remain open during your offtime, and which apps you want to block yourself from. Then you click a fun little start button, and the app kicks you off every time you try to open a blocked app. “Now, now, now!” it might say. “That’s not really necessary, is it?”

It’s like having your no-nonsense mother helping you learn self-control all over again…except that it never sleeps, so you can’t sneak it under your bed covers after hours.

Do you use any apps or programs to regulate your internet usage? I’m still on the lookout for a good computer program!