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April 29, 2017

Oh dear heart,

It didn’t feel the way I thought it would. After two years away from Instagram / social media, I’m not sure what I expected. I guess I thought it would feel the way it used to – the only way I’ve ever known. I thought I’d sit and watch the progress of my “announcement” in real time, as dozens of names poured in making me feel loved. I thought I’d get the dopamine high, the chance to practice the “aw, shucks, guys” false humility.

I thought the space itself would look different, better – like sitting down in a living room with friends I haven’t seen in a couple years. Instead it turned out to be exactly what it was – a digital app with a lot of white and ugly font and strange pictures, including some new confusing ones that float at the top.. I got three images deep on a thumb scroll and had to stop. “Nope. I can’t go back to it this way. This isn’t where the life is.”

Maybe that’s what I expected underneath it all .. for life to be waiting there, some missing link to extra joy, contentment, success, connection. I expected it because that’s how it used to feel. Instagram was where the life was (sad but true). It used to be a knee-jerk place to run, to hustle, to belong and become, to be seen and noticed and known. I worked my ass off and sold my moments to the highest liker in hopes of being understood and feeling like my strange life mattered.

I spent yesterday, from the moment I woke up to the moment I fell asleep, feeling loved. I felt loved in a whole way, a complete way, loved and lacking nothing. My boys did their usual morning pile-into our room, each of them squeezing me and wishing me “happy birthday!”. Zion told me not to worry, that I would grow up someday but right now, “you’re just a little bit small still, mommy.” Husband made me feel like the center of his universe. Friends and family sent cards and gifts and phone calls and songs.

I opened presents yesterday afternoon and read cards with the boys and husband, Zion pulling at the paper as if it were his birthday, too. I read what my family said about me, what my friends thought of me, how they expressed their love when given a chance to be vulnerable without looking sappy (thank God for birthdays). I felt seen for who I really was, and accepted through and through. I don’t know if I’ll ever experience a greater gift in this life than the love of those who have seen me at my worst and still believe the best about me.

Looking back at the visceral reaction I had to the “BIG RETURN” I realize it didn’t feel the same because I’m not the same. Two years has changed and rewired the fibers of who I am, how I think, love, and interact with myself, and others. I care about different things now. I’ve practiced more meaningful ways to connect and contribute. I’ve cleared out real estate in my mind for things that matter most to me. In these two years I’ve done the hard work of cultivating a presence here on this mud ball that’s more naked and rooted. In other words, I don’t need Instagram to tell me who I am anymore.

Maybe that’s exactly what it should feel like to log onto Instagram – like a human who knows who she is using a digital tool, then logging out and going to live her messy, connected, sacred, imperfect life.

I went back because of grace. I’d spent two years vilifying this app that used to leach time and energy and joy out of my life. The “dance, monkey, dance” and “am I lovable enough?”  had become too much. Grace released me to return, but not as the person I used to be, and not in the way I used to engage.

Grace brings me back, cautious and responsible, as the person I’m supposed to be. She reminds me I don’t need to work for any kind of love because I’ve already got more than enough. She reminds me there’s nothing to prove and no one to impress. Then she introduces me to this thing I’ve never known:

“Here’s a digital app made by people who don’t love you but want your time and money. Use if you feel like it, but tread lightly and responsibly. It won’t change your life or make you happier or more important. It will require boundaries in order to minimize regret, lethal comparison, and brain fog. It’s a digital tool, just a tool, to get the word out about whatever you have to share that might serve a small contingent of humans. Use it wisely, seasoned with grace, remembering you are loved.” wouldn’t you agree?


ash parsons


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