I downloaded Instagram in the summer of 2015 and from that moment, I opened the app every single day. 

At first, my account was solely for personal use and was adorned with predictable photos of latte art and cats. Years later, I started exploring writing and sharing my pieces via Instagram—that’s when the enemy pushed me down a slippery slope of judgment and envy. 

Shortly after deciding to publicly share my writing, I found myself becoming easily defeated. I said my writing was simply an experiment in recovering my artistic voice. However, when I spent hours pouring out my heart into well-crafted sentences only to receive a few likes, I couldn’t conceal my disappointment. I became obsessed with copycatting popular Instagram influencers while growing in resentment as I lost track of my originality. To complicate matters, I had recently moved to Florida from Tennessee and was feeding into the Arrival Fallacy. I thought, “When I move, I will be happier.” 

Well, believe it or not, life was still not perfect even in the sunshine state. As I lackadaisically scrolled through Instagram, it dawned on me that perhaps my recurring dissatisfaction with my present circumstances were strongly linked to my addiction-level of commitment to updating my profile.

To combat this, I started taking “mental health breaks” from Instagram. Every time I went on a break, I took comfort in knowing that the enemy wouldn’t have a chance to fool me into a spiral of self-pity as I scrolled through another blogger’s highlight reel. I observed this feeling of tranquility, but I didn’t take action towards permanently capturing it until later… One morning, at the peak of a fresh Instagram break, I sat down for my quiet time with my Bible, journal and coffee. As I started to delve into scripture, I completely forgot about my pledge to stay off social media and had the insatiable urge to capture the moment in the infamous “flat-lay” format. Giving in to temptation, I started arranging all the items on the kitchen counter in perfect symmetry, but as I reached for my phone to snap the shot, I froze. What was I doing? My need for internet validation was now casting a filter of falsehood over time with my savior. 

Frankly, God called me out, and I knew I had to quit for good. That tiny multicolored square had become too much of a determinate for my art and too much of an idol in my life. 

I’ve now been Instagram-free for seven months, and here’s what I’ve learned: Paul states in 2 Corinthians, “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” 

The point is– stop holding yourself up to someone else’s life, someone else’s standards, someone else’s story. 

Furthermore, the actions we take need to manifest from a place of authenticity. When I deactivated my Instagram account, I stopped buying into the lie that “if it wasn’t on Instagram, it didn’t happen” and created more space in my head and heart to hear God’s voice either convicting or affirming my actions. With less noise from the world, it’s easier to hear the one voice that really matters.

To clarify, I don’t feel that God calls all of His followers to abstain from social media simply because I felt convicted to deactivate mine. However, I will say that exercising self-control in this area has strengthened my faith walk.  

While social media is not inherently evil, it developed into a pursuit of vanity and left me empty. No matter what bad habit you’re nurturing today, the good news is that God’s grace covers all shame. I thought it would be impossible to give up internet validation, but His call for me to delete my profile turned out to be an easier sacrifice than I could have anticipated. To me, creating boundaries with social media provided me with a practical application of being in the world but not of the world.