Back on Thanksgiving Day I read this…
I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s so hard to celebrate a holiday, and everyday, when you’ve lost someone – whether it be because of death, or maybe they’ve moved away, or a relationship has just…ended. You scroll through feeds, read 140 character tweets and even double-click you “heart” on Instagram, but you can’t scroll over the pain in your heart, the loneliness that pervades your every thought.
Most of my life, I’ve lived away from my family, and most of that time I didn’t have social media in my face reminding me of how very alone I felt missing them, wishing I was decking the halls with them. Later on in my life, I’ve led groups of women to gather together, fellowship with one another, hoping that it would spearhead community, and guess what? It did. And I would scroll through social media, see pictures of them having fun, gathering together, sharing life outside of church. But what should have been an encouragement of community being shared, only hurt, because, well…I wasn’t there. I wasn’t invited. I would hear, “Thank you for doing that event for us. I duplicated it in my home.” Only I couldn’t say “Thank you”. All I could think was, “Gosh, sure wish I could have enjoyed the fun.” Then, inside jokes, pictures of everyone having fun but me, group invites where I couldn’t find my name. Ouch! I hurt. Thoughts of what I saw on social media invaded my heart and took over. No one liked my status, no one tweeted me to say “Hello,” no one wrote on my wall. NO ONE! Really? Did “no one” really care? Had my life turned into being successful if I got 107 likes on a picture I posted, or 69 comments that “You ROCKED that status, girl,” or heaven forbid, no one did the double-click to heart my pic on Instagram. Was I seriously defining myself by a social media world, by the “suspicion” that someone was sub-tweeting (throwing out an underlying meaning) me because I wasn’t the kind of pastor’s wife they thought I should be, or they had perceived I thought something about them, that gosh…I hadn’t even thought about them at all! It goes round and round and round and comes back around that Friend, social media life is NOT real life. We post what we want people to believe is our reality, because, maybe, if they believe it, we will believe it’s our reality, too. Then there’s the negative ninny that everyone “hides” from their feed, but makes sure they hop back over from time to time to engage with a “like” so said “negative ninny” won’t suspect we really don’t EVER read their statuses in real life! When people leave our real life circles and move on to another circle, we un-friend them, or stop following them, only for the one who left to assume you don’t “like” them anymore, when heaven forbid, you just un-friend them because they are the negative ninny, or you only keep a friends list of people with whom you actually share everyday life, because after all, it is YOUR social media world to do with as you please…kind of like real life when seasons change and friendships move on. How do we stop the madness, especially during a time like the holidays? You simply show you care. In that place where you live your everyday, do you stop to SAY an encouraging word, or does posting it on Instagram suffice? The power of your voice will NEVER replace the quick update of a status if you live a life inconsistent with your social media life. I’m gonna be real and tell you that I’ve un-friended people that have left my church before, but before you go calling me a “hypocrite,” let me tell you why. I am a very visual/sensual person, the kind of person that hears a song and it takes me back to where I was when I first heard it and all of the feelings that came with it. When many have left our church, it is deeply difficult for me to process. I can’t remember a time that Jeff and I haven’t written or called when we’ve found out (usually after the fact) that someone has left. We do it because we care about every single person in the “flock” and we do it because if we failed, we want to know how to do it better next time, but I still usually block the sight of that person from my social media world because I hurt. I always have. Seeing them boast of where they left to go attend hurts me because I didn’t want the investment from my life into theirs to be over. I do it because I control my social media world. Do I hide from them when I see them in public? Not generally, no. I may sometimes not see them and they see me, but this is where my social media world and real world are different. I can choose in my social media world NOT to have them in my face and I can control what I let control my thoughts, so I do it! I can’t always control what hurts me in real life, but even then I’ll make the effort to protect myself, so I do it. I say all of this to encourage you…do whatever it takes to make your social media life and real life stay CONSISTENTLY YOU!! Friend, YOU are a gift to the world. Don’t hide who you are. You can be you without becoming the negative ninny. You can be you and say, “Gosh, Facebook world, I’ve had a bad day. Pray for me.” Your friend’s list, if they are true friends, will care…they will! You can be you even when you have to sever a social media relationship because it just hurts. You can be you and post pictures of every meal you make because it reflects you and your love of cooking. Be YOU!
This Christmas, the pictures of fun will be posted, the events will be posted and your name will be missing from the invite list, the status you put a lot of thought and love behind will go unnoticed, but do NOT let that fool you into believing you don’t matter. I love the words of Job after immense strife and loss, of being ridiculed and unloved…
The Spirit of God made me what I am,
the breath of God Almighty gave me life! Job 33:4
You are such a gift to the world – to the REAL world and the social media world. Never hide who you are. Embrace it. And you, my friend, who may be missing a love in your life, and these days are hard, He holds your hand and He never lets go. Do not let the misperceptions of the social media world ever force you to forget that. Hold onto Him tightly.