I can get so distracted by the incredible technology at my fingertips all the time. My gloriously small iPhone SE. My beloved iPad Air. And my much-less-cool-but-highly-effective Lenovo laptop.
They make it so easy to read articles, thumb through Instagram, browse Twitter, look at old pictures, and on and on it goes. Mostly, technology makes it easier to do what I want to do — the tools exist to serve me.
But just because they were made for that doesn’t mean that’s the only way we should use them.
A few years ago I started looking for simple ways to subvert the me-centeredness of our social media-crazed world. Over that time I made websites for my wife, sent her private Instagram messages (not that kind), turned those photos into a hard-copy book, set reminders to think about her, and more.
This article focuses on what I did with Instagram, but I’ll cover the other things in the near future.
How to use Instagram to serve your spouse
Ah, Instagram. Everyone’s favorite window into everyone else’s life. It’s personal, timely, and simple.
And it’s all about us. (And our perfect looking families, of course).
A few years ago my wife and I were having a discouraging conversation about my son’s behavior right before I left for work. I could tell that she was tired, burned out, and just needed a break. But I had to go to work.
Later that morning I found myself looking through my photos from the week before, and I came across a picture of my son with a backwards wearing a backwards hat. In the background was my nephew’s T-ball game.
For some reason, it put the situation with my son into perspective. I realized that even though the current moment was hard, it was really nothing in the grand scheme of his life. We still had to figure it out, but it would pass. And more importantly, my son’s behavior when he was barely two didn’t define who he was and would be as a person.
I had the idea to communicate that to my wife as if my son could say it in his own words. So I decided to open up Instagram and write what he would say in the comment for the photo. But just before sharing, I realized it felt too private for everyone who follows me to see, so I decided to send it as a private message instead.
Here’s how it turned out:
My wife really liked it, and I could tell that it was timely. God used it to giver her the encouragement she needed at just the right moment.
So I decided to do more of them. I ended up sending her a bunch over a period of several months.
Then I decided to take it a step further. I thought they were special enough that I wanted to bring them into the real world.
So for our anniversary, I made them into a Shutterfly book. Shutterfly is a photo storage site that allows you to make all kinds of things out of your pictures, like coffee mugs, books, phone cases, etc. It’s not the most efficient software I’ve ever used, but their stuff comes out looking nice, particularly the books.
After I gave it to my wife, I watched her reread each of the little moments and saw tears well up in her eyes. I still look through the book every now and then and feel the same way.
So not only can you use Instagram to send your spouse some encouragement or something silly throughout the day, but you can turn those little moments into something that will last much longer.
Here’s how to do that.
How to send a direct message
I’ll assume you have some basic knowledge of how to use Instagram for what follows. I’ll also be giving instructions specific to iPhone, but I’m guessing the Android version is similar.
Start by selecting the inbox icon in the top right of your Instagram home screen.
From there, select the “+” icon in the top right to send a new message.
You’ll be given the option to send a photo/video or a message. Select Send a Photo/Video.
Then, you’ll edit the photo and choose a filter, just like when posting normally.
Now you can write out some encouragement or sentimental note to your spouse by adding a comment to the right of the picture.
The next thing to do is select the person you want to send it to. Select the person’s name and then hit Send in the top right corner.
Finally, I suggest doing two extra things if you’re ever interested in using these photos anywhere else.
First, go into your Photos app and find the edited picture you just created in Instagram. Email it to yourself, save it to Drop Box, add it to Google Photos, or something like that. That way you have it archived for later.
No go back into the direct message you just created. Select the text you sent and save it, email it to yourself, or whatever works. Just like with the photos, you’ll want to archive the notes for future use. And be sure to save it with the correct picture so you know which text goes with which photo.
How to turn your direct messages into a book
If you keep at it over several months or even a year (sending one a month is a good goal) then you’ll have enough of them built up to make into a book. These books make great anniversary, birthday, Christmas, or Mother’s Day gifts.
This involves some more steps, but hey, you’re making memories for your spouse, you can do this.
You remember all those wonderful pictures and notes you saved? Time to pull those back out.
Open up the folder or emails where those things are stored and upload the photos into Shutterfly or some other service that lets you create books out of your images.
Because there’s so much preference and design work involved, I won’t walk you through each step of this. But I’ll show you some pictures of the book I made so you can see how it turned out.
Next time you open up Instagram, think about how you can use the tool to bless someone else, and see how God uses it.