By Leigh MacKenzie
Have you ever worked hard for years on something and had it stolen or senselessly destroyed overnight?
Ever felt the bile rise up in your throat from a personal injustice?
Or the tears stinging your eyes when you realize something you loved unexpectedly vanished?
Read on, Beloved. This is a story of rising up after the unexpected comes knocking…
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 family time, a biking coffee date with The Elder, singing for the worship team, and a FaceTime call from our freshman at college.
Monday began like usual. On our call Sunday, Man-Cub was singing praises of a new phone update and so, after my early morning routine (workout—>Word—>writing, with a splash of coffee thrown in), having been off my phone most of the weekend, I began the update.
My first order of business was to check in with my team of friends on Instagram. There was a security update asking if I wanted to share ALL or only SELECT photos with IG. Curious what “SELECT” would do, I chose it and realized that I couldn’t post anything because my photo library was hidden. When I went back to settings and changed it back. An in-app warning popped up saying there was unusual activity on my account and to check the two-factor authentication code being texted to my phone.
It 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 with this international community, I’ve culled and blocked any creepy accounts or bots, and I’m not that big of a deal.
Upon further examination, it appeared something was 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 some friends, they texted to just let it ride and give it 24 hours. So I did.
Honestly, I tried to not to talk about it too much, but my mind kept flip-flopping, uneasy. As an aspiring author with a book in front of potential publishers, platform is often the difference between a book deal and another great story never seeing the light of day.
The Elder and other 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 and I asked my husband to check if he could see my account before he left for work. It hadn’t been 24 hours yet since the last time I tried to get a code and I was curious what was happening.
To my surprise, all that was left of “The Church Girl Writes” was my profile photo and an all black screen below, saying, “No Posts Yet.” My Follower/Following numbers were gone.
Realization that something truly nefarious was going on brought tears to my eyes. Over three years of scriptural encouragement, teaching videos, memories, stories, IGTVs, and relationships had been systematically deleted overnight.
The Battle of Discouragement
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 was gone.
Others told me they assumed I was doing a creative project and weren’t worried; they thought I’d reconnect with them when I returned. Little did they know, I almost walked away from everything—social media, writing, and a communication ministry. They almost never heard from The Church Girl Writes again.
At this point, I’m not sure why I came back except that the message of salvation is too important to keep under a bowl and the Light must shine in the darkness. The love of Christ compels me onward… the enemy cannot take any more from me than he already has.
Before that fateful Monday, I had signed on to be part of an IG mastermind pro group with Ruthie Gray. Ruthie is a mentor and teacher on IG with a podcast and weekly email helping people to grow their platforms for community. She began to work her magic, calling and encouraging scores of IG believers to come to my aid, to promote and follow my new account, thechurchgirlwrites_.
After posting on FB about what happened, there were outcries of surprise and disappointment. Most knew I was trying to get published, most understood the gravity of losing my biggest platform. Many of my local friends on FB got the word out to others and followed me on my website (www.thechurchgirlwrites.com) and IG once again.
The Blessings of Fighting Back
Website security people, on learning I had the two-factor authentication in place, said it could have been a brute-force malicious attack. They had probably gotten through by guessing my password. Yeah. The one I created with symbols and caps and at least x-number of characters that I can’t remember and get confused each time I have to log in. But a hacker, working 24/7 on it, finally cracked it?
According to friends who have been weighing in and from what I have witnessed happening to others, religious accounts are more likely to be deleted from social media without warning. Is this the beginning of Christian persecution? Is it censorship? Either way, it’s heartbreaking.
Deciding to start my new account Thursday (three days in the grave, anyone?), there was something of indignant rising in my soul, a murmur of, I refuse to be silenced! I refuse to be deleted! You can knock me down but I’m getting back up.
This is where our beloved Heather enters the story. She sent me the following Scripture from Nehemiah 6:9 after everything blew up. It’s about when the Israelites were rebuilding the wall around the Temple after the Exile and others were trying to scare them. Nehemiah recalls:
They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination.
Can I get an AMEN? If Nehemiah and the Israelites did it with swords in one hand and tools in another to protect the land they’d taken, we can, too.
The Blessings of Knowing It’s All In God’s Hands
While this initially felt like a massive free fall that fateful Monday, what I have found is that—SHOCKER!— it’s not nearly as bad as it seems. God brought in others to support me from places and in ways I never dreamed possible or even considered before this happened. The blessing of considering it pure joy in the trial because God is growing my spiritual maturity, dependence, and trust. While this might feel like persecution or an attack, I know that I have suffered to the point of shedding blood, right?
Any ministry opportunity I’ve ever been offered or given is never my own. It belongs to someone else. Sometimes it belongs to a fellow blogger/writer, a magazine, publisher, or the Church, but ultimately, it is the Lord’s and a chance to point people to His Son. This is HIS ministry and my name is written on the palms of His hands.
The thought of losing my friends and ministry partners again because of a glitch in the system or some decision by someone to kill my account prompts me to invite everyone to go to my website (www.thechurchgirlwrites.com) and follow there because that list won’t ever be randomly deleted and that message cannot be silenced.
However, the greatest thing I have learned from losing my account is gaining the blessing of finding I have so many others in the battle with me. It is bringing me to my knees.
I have rarely never seen or been part of anything quite like this. This is the church being the Church. This is having life to the full.
I am humbled to tears by the love shown to me. Seeing the injustice and the enemy’s work, others came into the battle to help re-establish my account. I never thought at what could have been one of my darkest hours that the light would shine so brightly.
But that’s just what Jesus’ people do best when they follow Him. We know without a doubt
HE’S GOT THIS.
In His service, Leigh Mackenzie “The Church Girl Writes” www.thechurchgirlwrites.com
WHO IS THE CHURCH GIRL?
Everyone is dealing with something on the inside even if you don’t see it on the outside, especially Church Girls…
Visit www.thechurchgirlwrites.com to find out more.
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Stand Up, Shake Off the Dust, Straighten Your Crown, and Walk Forward Confidently Grounded in Truth.