Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Problem With Social Media

I'm sure you read that title and you thought this post would be about teenagers, our children who so abuse social media..... Well, it's not. This post is about me. This post is about you. This post is about us, as full grown adults, abusing social media. We have made it an outlet that, if we continue as we have been, could very well destroy us, our families, and our children. I don't care what form of social media you prefer; be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram; we have a problem. We have a heart issue. We have a society issue. And if we are believers, we have a church issue, because WE are the church. We are causing deep relationship issues within the body, that if not stopped will cause scars that our children will bear for years to come. Now you may say, "Sara, aren't you being a little dramatic here?" And I boldly say "NO! No I am not!"
It's time for us to be shaken awake. Wake up, moms! Wake up, parents! Wake up, single adults! Wake up, CHURCH!!! I have seen families destroyed, marriages wrecked, grown adults behaving like children, parent/child relationships pushed down to nothingness, true friendships becoming a rarity, and loneliness abounding, all because of an abuse of this thing that is social media.

We are replacing real life relationships for fake ones that never move farther than a screen. We are trampling on the dignity and trust of the real life relationship we do have. "That's really sad," you might say, "But that's not me". And I ask you, are you sure? Are you really sure? I had to ask myself that same question, and the reality of the answer was both surprising and difficult to grasp. Now before I post anything (and I do post things), I must ask myself "What is my motivation?" And if my answer is unsatisfactory, I must then ask myself, what need am I trying to fill? What is the why? I encourage I urge do the same.

Parents, especially you fellow Mommas out there, before you decide to post pictures of your kids, share your discipline tactics in the moment, lay all of their mistakes and faults out there (for "prayer" support), ask yourself if you would want your parents or your spouse to share the same kind of thing about you in a very public forum. I have seen parents, in all shapes and forms, destroying a trust bond with their children through this very thing. Why post and share with all of your "friends" and followers all of their moments; the good, the bad, the difficult, even the sweet? I have seen parents post publicly a private discipline issue that really should have stayed private. There seems to be a sense of pride in sharing their parenting prowess at the shame of their children.Oh, that's getting a little personal... I know... But think about this, how can you expect your child to trust you with the "big" things in their life, when all of their "little" things have been shamelessly shared; all of their faults, mistakes, and discipline problems aired out to the world? Would you trust a person who did that to you? Would you trust someone who stood you up in front of 500-800 people or more, and aired all of your problems? Embarrassing, right?! Respect their heart.

Anytime you use someone else's shame to empower yourself, it's degrading the relationship of trust. There is a breakdown of relationships, because of there is a breakdown of trust. In this world, where the enemy is working overtime to destroy us, we MUST circle the wagons. We must do all we can to protect the most important bonds and relationships that the Lord has given us on this earth, those within our homes. (Nehemiah 4:14) This includes our spouses, our children, our siblings, our parents. Stop tearing down the walls of trust that protect your home with your own hands on a keyboard. (Proverbs 14:1)
We must start fighting FOR one another. That means that some of those battles need to stay behind the walls of our home. Give others the same dignity you yourself would desire, especially to those that you claim to love most. Fight for them in the same way that you would want them to fight for you. We must stop selfishly and recklessly tearing down our homes, for the sake of our emotional emptiness and the voids we ourselves have created.

(Proverbs 15:4) (Proverbs 18:21) Why are we, as grown adult (cause this is about us, remember?) and followers of Jesus Christ, using, speaking, and posting words without a second thought? Because we have the "right" to our own opinion? Oh dear....
Our words have power. Written or spoken, our words have power to build up or tear down, bless or curse, hurt or heal, give life or give death, they can be poison or fruit; and guess what, we get to choose! That, my dear friends, is a huge responsibility. One that we will be held accountable for. 

I'm not just talking about wives and mothers, husbands and fathers. This applies to you single adults as well. You have families too, parents, siblings, close friends. You also are building a home. You are even now building your future, your story. Your family and its condition to come is being built by the habits you are creating, the choices you are making, and the words you are speaking right now. It's time for you to step up and begin taking responsibility for your story. 

It's time for us all; single people, married people, parents; to step up and stop behaving like full grown CHILDREN on social media. Take some responsibility! It's time, church! 

Let's discuss pictures...oh the pictures...
Deep breath, here we go...
Let me start by saying, please, PLEASE check your motives before participating in the mass hashtag game that is #ManCrushMonday, #TransformationTuesday, #WomanCrushWednesday, #ThrowbackThursday,  #FlashbackFriday, #SelfieSaturday, #SelfieSunday, Selfies EVERY STINKING DAY OF THE WEEK. For the love of all humanity.....stop the madness!!!!!!!!!
Before posting a picture, ask yourself why? Before posting another selfie, ask yourself why? Why the need to post a picture of yourself, that you took yourself, for others to choose to "like" or comment on? Is it because we all have a need to be complimented, to be accepted, to be "a part of something"? Is it because, somehow, the number of likes and "You're so pretty", "You're such a good mom", "You're such a cute couple", "Your kid is so cute/smart/talented" comments we get on said pictures, gives us that? Oh we would never say those words, we would say something like "It's just a picture" or "It's just for fun".

The reality of our true motivations can be such a harsh pill to swallow. I have had to swallow that pill, and it's not fun. It's really not fun. I have had to ask myself, "Why? Why am I posting this picture? What is my TRUE motivation and does it bring honor to the Lord?" And a lot of the time, the answer for myself is no. Not because of the picture itself. The picture itself isn't wrong, it's my heart that is. It's my desire to somehow fill a void in the moment; be that acceptance, a need for encouragement, to fill a sense of loneliness, or maybe just simply the need to be seen and heard. But when that happens, I have to ask myself why I am choosing  to go there, to that account or to that outlet. Why was I seeking to fill that void with perceived reality, instead of true reality?

Yes, the Lord can and does fill all of my needs, and He is MORE than enough! He wants to fill every emotional void I have...but He wants to use people too! He wants us to be in relationship with one another. He wants us to LOVE one another. That does not and can not come through a computer or phone screen. It just can't. That's why we are one of the loneliest societies in the world. We are a society that is so desperate for connection and love that it is almost an epidemic. We are disease ridden with the illness that is "Lack of Love."

The problem is we are making these reckless, loveless social media decisions because we are lonely. But instead of fixing it, our lonely decisions are breeding more loneliness, which is breeding discontentment and emotional immaturity. It's in this state of discontentment and immaturity, that we are inflicting wounds, on ourselves and on those we love most!

I tell students this all the time, but now it's time for us as adults to grasp this reality as well; you're Facebook/Twitter/Instagram "friends" are not your friends. That is a profile, that is an account, that is not a friend!!! A friend is flesh and blood, with an actual voice and an actual face, real arms that can hug you, a laugh that you can hear. You can look at them and see them and hear their tone when they encourage you or when they have to keep you accountable. They can see you, hear you, look you in the eyes. They will be able to see and hear your tone when you encourage them or when you hold them accountable. You can see their love, and you can love them in return. There is nothing more uplifting than to be able to look another human in the eye and connect. Really connect, not just through an account and a keyboard. We have closed off and pulled back from any true intimate friendships and relationships, and pulled in every single person on our friend list into our most personal thoughts and feelings. All of these people...excuse me, accounts...they aren't "hearing" us, they aren't "loving" us, and it's leaving us empty and lonely, which causes us to post more and reach out more....but we are reaching in the wrong direction, people! Stop reaching for an account, through an account. Reach out to an actual person! Another real life, flesh and blood human! One where you can hear their actual voice, their actual tone, their real life laughter, bare minimum; and if you can get where you can look them in the eye and see them, even better!

Here's the good news; we can change this!!!! This post is not a rant against social media itself. This post is meant to be a wake up call for us! Social media isn't bad in and of itself! Social media can be a good thing. All I'm saying is, we have got to check our motivations, watch our words, protect the dignity and privacy of others, stop trying to fill a void with it, and stop trying to replace flesh and blood relationships with an account. But most importantly, we must love one another. Praise the Lord that mercy is new every morning and we can start fresh right now, we must simply choose it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jesus in a Five Year Old Boy

Today, I was fed up. I was angry. I felt so overwhelmed and so very alone. There in my car, tears rolling down my face, I was brutally and completely honest. I told the Lord, out loud, that I was so angry, that I was hurt, that I was overwhelmed, that I felt alone, that I was feeling far from loving.
I pulled into my sister's house for a girls lunch, took a deep breath, and tried to pull myself together. I went inside, said my hellos, a smile plastered on my face. My mom was reading books to the older kids. The little ones were running around. Becca was cooking. Others were arriving. It was busy and it was loud. That was working well for me. Maybe I would go unnoticed until I could fully get it together.
As I was sitting on the couch lost in my own thoughts, I caught the eye of my five year old nephew, Mason. He was looking at me intently. I smiled the best I could at his sweet face, because honestly how could you not. Then, with a gentle smile, he quietly walked over, climbed up on the couch beside me. He wrapped his precious arms around my neck and kissed my cheek. As he squeezed tighter, he softly whispered "I love you, Aunt Sara."
As that precious five year old continued to hug me, I whispered back "I love you too."
"How did you know I needed a hug, Mason?", I asked.
"I just knew", he said. .
Tears filled my eyes, and holding back sobs, I heard the Lord say "I love you too, Sara. I love you so much, that I spoke to a shy, quiet 5 year old and sent him over there to let you know."

What a loving and gracious God we have. He is so full of compassion and mercy. And it has overwhelmed me!

Listen for His voice. Be obedient to the Spirit's leading. And like Mason, be Jesus to someone else who might just simply need to feel loved today.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Standing on the Promises

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,
Through eternal ages let His praises ring,
Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I'm standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I now can see
Perfect, present cleansing in the blood for me;
Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
Bound to Him eternally by love's strong cord,
Overcoming daily with the Spirit's sword,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
Listening every moment to the Spirit's call
Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
Standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I'm standing on the promises of God.