Have you ever worked hard for years on something and had it stolen or senselessly destroyed overnight? Ever felt bile in your throat from a personal injustice or tears stinging your eyes when you realize something you loved unexpectedly vanished for good?
Read on, Beloved. This is a story of rising up from ashes after the unexpected comes knocking…
The Battle Begins
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
It was a relaxing weekend that included lots of social media-free family time, a biking coffee date with The Elder, and singing for the worship team. On a FaceTime call from our freshman at college, the Man-Cub was praising the new phone update.
“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “I’ll have to do that update tomorrow.”
Monday began like usual, but after my early morning routine (Workout—>Word—>Writing, with a splash of C O F F E E thrown in), I began the update. Checking in with my prayer warrior team on Instagram, a security update asked if I wanted to share ALL or only SELECT photos. Curious what “SELECT” would do, I chose it and, realizing I couldn’t post anything because my photo library was hidden, went back to settings and changed it. An in-app warning popped up saying there was unusual activity on my account and to enter the two-factor authentication code being texted to my phone.
The code never came.
The Battle of Disbelief
Have you ever had something stolen or destroyed? It’s really an awful feeling of violation and shock to start. Honestly, I couldn’t believe anything was really wrong, you know? The thought crossed my mind that somehow I’d been hacked or that IG had deleted my account for some impossible reason, but I just thought, I only have 2930 followers, I’m doing the right things interacting, I’ve culled and blocked creepy accounts or bots, and I’m not that big of a deal.
Examining further, it appeared something was seriously wrong with my account (though I never got an email or text alerting me to unusual activity, only the pop-up warning within the app). Using my computer, I attempted to get the code there. It said it could take up to a minute to get the code texted. Minutes passed–no code.
I may or may not have tried to get that code too many times. (What can I say? I’m proactive!) After consulting with friends, they responded to let it ride and give it 24 hours. So I did.
Honestly, I tried not to talk about it too much, but my mind kept uneasily flip-flopping. The Elder and others tried to reassure me it was probably a tech glitch. I figured it was out of my control anyway. As I drifted to sleep, I prayed,
God, You’ve got this.
The Battle of Panic
Tuesday morning dawned. Curious, I asked my husband to check my account before he left for work. Since it hadn’t been 24 hours yet before the last time I tried to get a code, I wondered what was happening.
To my utter surprise, all that was left of “The Church Girl Writes” was my profile photo and an all-black screen, saying, “No Posts Yet.” My Follower/Following numbers were gone.
Realizing something truly nefarious happened brought tears to my eyes. More than three years of scriptural encouragement, teaching videos, memories, stories, IGTVs, and relationships had been systematically deleted overnight.
The Battle of Discouragement
On social platforms, it’s not unusual for people to announce an extended social media fast for creative or personal reasons, so people usually don’t get too concerned when they don’t see people for a bit. My prayer team and extended friend network had no idea where I was. My regulars, however, the ones who follow on multiple platforms, started messaging me on FB,
Where ARE you? I can’t find you!
A squad of people was trying to help me recover my account, looking up ways to connect to the giant company. I even tried to log in through my Facebook-linked account.
The support phone number was an electronic dead-ended labyrinth, their former email@example.com informed me they no longer support this email and to go to instagram.com/help. I reported twice (and another beautiful friend, Justine L., reported from her account) the account was hacked. (To date: I never received a response from IG to those emails, never received a two-factor code text, nor an email saying there was ever anything wrong.) By Wednesday, there was no sign of anything I had ever created on Insta. The 500+ hashtags of #thechurchgirlwrites only had five or six where people had tagged me. Anything I had tagged or created was gone.
Discouraged at the thought of having to rebuild my largest platform from scratch, I almost walked away from everything all together. The world almost never heard from The Church Girl Writes again on social media, writing, or any communication.
At this point, I’m not sure if I come back except that the message of salvation is too important to keep under a bowl. The Light must shine in the darkness and the love of Christ compels me onward…
What would YOU do if you were me?