Church Girl Blog

How To Find Blessings After The Battle: Lessons Learned From Being Deleted On Instagram (Part One)

by | Oct 9, 2020 | A CHURCH Life, A WRITER'S Life | 13 comments

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.

OF NOTE: Both Facebook and Instagram have stated they have the right to delete any accounts and profiles they deem to have violated their terms of use. “We want to create the best possible experience for everyone on Instagram. That means spam, fake accounts and other people and posts that don’t follow our Community Guidelines may be removed from Instagram.” What are those community guidelines? You should go read them. They’re pretty broad and, depending on who is in charge, don’t guarantee freedom of religion or the right to freely speak about faith. I’m not sure what happened with my profile if I was hacked externally or merely deleted, but this is food for thought for Christian speakers, writers, and authors whose livelihoods depend on social media platform numbers.

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.

No-go.

The support phone number was an electronic dead-ended labyrinth, their former [email protected] 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?

 

13 Comments

  1. Cindy Schulte

    Keep sharing the Gospel Leigh 💕 Praying for you and your lovely family.

    Reply
  2. AMANDA J MEYER

    So thankful everything has worked out… As I heard at the Thrive conference a week ago… “It’s all part of His plan” … Even though I don’t believe God had your account deleted – that was the enemy – the LORD used it for GOOD! And GIRL! I am so grateful I got to pray, watch and see you overcome! Love you! xoxo

    Reply
  3. Becky Warning

    You have published a lot of inspirational messages on Instagram. Maybe that season has come to a close. Your true followers will still follow you on Facebook and subscribe to your CGW articles. I have noticed more and more hatefulness on social media. Almost makes me sorry I ever got a Facebook account.

    We haven’t been able to access our Apple Account for a couple years because I think someone hacked it. We have tried the recovery process multiple times and never received a code. Online chatted and called Apple. Never got it resolved. My only piece of mind is we never connected our credit card to it.

    Love you sister.

    Reply
  4. Jayme Stroot

    Rise From The Ashes!

    I couldn’t imagine if EvenGlow burned down, but that is definitely what I thought was going to happen during the shutdown. Take one minute at a time. If you can get through that minute you can get though the rest. Press that restart button and show those beloved followers that in any situation they can do the same.

    Reply
  5. Carla Gasser

    Oh, my stars! I was taking my social media break when all of this was happening, so I feel like I am just catching up with all of this. I am so very sorry this happened to you, but I cannot say I am completely surprised. I feel like we are entering a season where many of us who are taking a strong and public stand for the gospel will be targeted. I so appreciate the way you have handled this with grace and truth and will pray that God will restore and redeem what has been destroyed and taken for His glory and your good! Standing with you, sister friend!

    Reply
  6. Mary Geisen

    Your courage and perseverance has been a beautiful example to me and many others. Thanks for being such a social media blessing.

    Reply
    • Leigh Mackenzie

      Oh, Mary! You’ve been such a calming rock in the storm. You would have done the same, I believe. Never give up, never give in–the message of Christ is too important.

      Reply
  7. Brenda

    So glad you got your account back! It’s definitely a weird feeling, knowing what all is completely out of our sphere of control. But nothing is impossible with God, and it builds my faith to see how he worked on your behalf!

    Reply
    • Leigh Mackenzie

      Brenda, thank you for all the support you gave me during that hard time. Is anything impossible with God??

      Reply
  8. Cheryl Bostrom

    You’ve been held in a pocket of my heart ever since I heard about this, Leigh. Trusting, trusting, trusting God to redeem it, to guard you, and to keep anything that would attempt to stop His ministry through your to be rendered impotent. Loving you and standing with you, my sister in Christ.❤️

    Reply
    • TCGW

      You’ve been my delight since I met you, Cheryl. Thank you. Praising God for your prayers, encouragement, and support. LM xoxo

      Reply
  9. Janet McHenry

    Bill and Pam Farrel has their FB accounts hacked this summer and are still rebounding from completely stolen accounts that were never restored. I’ve been blocked from boosting posts or taking out FB ads. I’m figuring it’s inevitable because we’re in a battle. It’s hard, this life. We want all the pieces to be pretty and easy, but they’re not. My husband was wrongly convicted of six felony counts of animal abuse in 2005–when cattle got covered over in snow and died in a two-day blizzard. The next two years until the convictions were overturned were not pretty or easy then—and my writing career stalled and lost momentum while we recovered emotionally. Though we finally “won,” it still hurts, and you never get your reputation back. You just keep following God’s call on your life the best you can and thank God for the opportunity to identify with our persecuted Lord if even for only a small fraction of his suffering.

    Reply
    • Leigh Mackenzie

      It’s just the most demoralizing feeling, Janet. I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that. I believe we may be coming to a place of persecution where we are silenced and deleted… the world only wants what their itching ears want to hear and it’s not the message of Jesus.

      Reply

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