It was at my parents’ home in Ukraine while sitting in the living room and scrolling through Instagram that it hit me. I spent the past six months trying to gain more followers on Instagram so that I could tell people about God. But it was only at that moment in Ukraine that I realized that my motivation was not exactly what I thought it was.
For the past few months when I saw the number of my followers rising and the number of likes under each picture increase, I felt really good. It was like a dopamine rush every time I hit a new milestone of followers or likes under the picture.
But that evening in Ukraine in my parents’ living room something changed. I was looking at a picture of myself that I had recently posted on Instagram. It got more likes than any other picture of myself that I had posted before. But I felt nothing. It didn’t make me any more or any less happy whether people liked my picture or not.
Prior to being a Christian I would always care about how many likes my pictures got. I would research about the best times to update my profile picture on Facebook so that it got more likes. I would try taking a variety of pictures and see which ones did better online. I would take a new shot of myself very often, hoping that the next one I took would be the one that gets me more likes than the previous one.
Deep down, it wasn’t about the pictures. Deep down it was about me in those pictures. Deep down it was about placing my identity in my looks and then trying to find acceptance through people liking my looks on social media.
But that evening in Ukraine in my parents’ living room something had changed within me. I had been a Christian for about 6 months and have matured a lot in my faith since getting saved. I learned that my primary identity was found in Christ and that my primary acceptance comes from being a child of God.
I read Bible verses about being fearfully and wonderfully made and that the true beauty is the one that comes from a gentle and quiet spirit. I found true acceptance in God and I didn’t need the acceptance of other people online anymore to know that I am worth something. Now I knew I was precious in God’s sight.
When I realized that my motivation for doing the online ministry was wrong all those months, I felt God telling me to take a break from the online ministry to mature in my character. I needed to read the Bible from cover to cover and get more grounded in my faith before I could turn around and try to encourage others in their faith too.
So I deleted the Instagram account and Facebook page, even though I had worked so hard at it for all those months. I disconnected my website from the hosting without deleting it completely, since I knew that one day I would blog again.
So I got a journal and started journaling all of my findings and thoughts about God in my personal journal instead of sharing them online. That journal filled up really quickly! I read my Bible every morning and wrote my thoughts in the margins. I read Christian novels about godly women that demonstrated to me that even serving those within our home is an important ministry too, not just the “big” things we do. In God’s sight every act of service done with the right motivation is valuable.
At the time I was living at home with my parents and little brothers, waiting for my university to start in October. My brothers were very young at the time, one was a newborn and another was a toddler. So my mom could use some help with them and around the house.
Reading a novel about a Christian woman who served those around her with joy inspired me to serve my family too. So I helped with the dishes and cooking and laundry and just simply watching the kids. While doing chores I would almost always listen to a Christian podcast or a sermon, or an audio Bible. I listened to both topical and expositional messages, as well as Christian couples chatting about life and how they lived out what the Bible said in their own lives.
The online ministries of all those people really helped me a lot in maturing in my faith, and the Christian books I read, along with the Bible, were really life-changing for me.
Now I was clear on my motivation. I got saved and matured in my faith because of someone else’s online ministry. So now I wanted to give back and help others to get to know God better through my ministry just like someone else’s ministry had helped me.
I realized that lasting fulfillment does not come from the number of likes, but the number of changed lives.
At that point, after a period of about six months of not blogging, I felt a strong desire to start an online ministry again. I prayed about it for a few weeks, and as I was praying for it, I was also thinking of what I would call it and what type of content I would post.
After praying about starting the online ministry for a few weeks and being sure it was indeed God’s will for me to start it then, I knew I needed a way of staying committed to it once I started it. My university was about to start in a couple of weeks, and I wanted to ensure that the demands of my university would not squeeze my online ministry out of my schedule.
So I made a promise to God that for the next year I would consistently post every week, unless I was taking a scheduled break. And I’ve kept that promise.