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I’m a little sore this morning!

You see, I try to walk a 5K every other day or so to burn off the desserts and bread I never intend to eat, but always do, and my normal workout jam is Phillip Phillips or Caedmon’s Call, music that is upbeat enough to keep me moving, but mellow enough to let me think as I walk.  That’s important because I usually head out to walk when I’ve reached a roadblock in whatever it is I’m writing.

Well, last night, I didn’t have any writing kinks to work out, so I went with Switchfoot instead.  Ten minutes into my walk, I felt great.  I was humming, sweating, smiling, and pumping my arms like a speed walker.  Feeling invincible thanks to my new soundtrack, I didn’t even bother to slow down at the steep hill that has caused me knee problems in the past.

Big mistake!  I ended up tweaking a muscle and half-hobbling the rest of my route to work it out, laughing at myself all the way.  Apparently, what I listen to has a greater impact on me than I thought.

Thankfully, other than feeling a little sore from my walk, I woke up feeling rested, encouraged, and optimistic this morning after having spent a really great Sunday with my church family.  Truth was spoken, prayers were offered, hugs were given, and love was shared all around.  As my family and I are heading into our seventh week of camp, the boost was exactly what I needed to keep pace to the end.  I smiled to myself at the memory.

Then I opened Facebook.

Within minutes, my mood was altered.  Disappointment, frustration, sadness, and panic set in, the lightness of heart that I had just thanked God for disappearing as my mind processed a dozen new thoughts at once.  I should have closed out the app, but I didn’t.  Instead, I kept scrolling, searching for an encouraging word, a funny anecdote, a cute video, anything to sweeten the bitterness I had just swallowed.  I found a few, but they were sugar cubes in a gallon bucket of bile.  Ten minutes later, I closed the app, knowing I had let the Thief in and been robbed (John 10:10).

It’s my own fault, you know.  I am the one who threw the doors of my heart and mind open wide.  I’m the one who asked anyone and everyone, “What should I think about today?”

Scripture says this:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

In light of this command, I plan to take the following action steps and establish boundaries for myself where social media is concerned.  If you process every word you read and internalize the emotions of others as deeply as I do, you may want to consider doing the same.

  1. Spend time in the Word and in prayer and communicate intentionally with someone (face to face or by phone, text, or email) before opening social media each day.
  2. Refrain from opening social media when I’m already feeling down, anxious, frustrated, or angry.
  3. Scroll past links with caustic, accusatory, or manipulative titles (i.e. clickbait).
  4. Unfollow people who consistently post inflammatory remarks or comments, inappropriate photos or updates, or links to articles I would not read for the reasons listed above.
  5. Stop reading comment threads at the point they turn into street fights and stop reading status updates and articles when emotion and agenda override logic and wisdom.
  6. Use social media intentionally rather than letting it use me.
  7. Set a timer for myself so that I don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole.

Yes, I realize that there is a big “discussion” going on about everything under the sun and that followers of Christ have a responsibility to interject Truth, but we also have a responsibility to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23).  To be effective in these last days, Christians need cool heads and clear minds (1 Peter 4:7), and soundtrack is everything.