06 February 2014

[talk: Wanting a Heart of Encouragement.]

I'm going to be 40 soon.  Yes.  I'm owning it - what are my other options *laughing*?  I could say, "how old do you THINK I am?" and hope for the best ... or just be thankful for the 40 years that have brought me some super tough life-lessons as well as moments of pure joy.  

Being "middle" aged is a gift.  If you've been here, you know what I mean.  If you haven't, you'll know what I mean one day.  It's a very odd phenomenon to be able to see how quickly the next twenty years are going to go, based on the last twenty.   To be able to connect with twenty-somethings and sixty-somethings.    I think that being middle aged is a fertile ground for learning - both from those older and younger ... realizing that you don't know everything is actually super freeing.

Along with realizing that you DON'T know everything, comes some definite things that you DO know.  And for each person, that's different.  I think most would agree that people who "think they know everything about everything" can be exhausting.  Especially if you have a different opinion than them.  

This post is just that - it's my humble, imperfect opinion.  Maybe it might allow you to see something differently, maybe it'll just confirm what you already knew to be true for you.  But in light of what I've been witnessing lately - specifically in young women (young women are anyone born before me LOL) - I wondered if I could maybe bring a perspective that some may see as worthwhile.

Here it goes.  Deep breath.  

Social media.  

There, I said it.  And yeah, I've written a little about it before but - holy COW, it's a loaded topic isn't it?  I mean - here YOU are - reading my words ... so obviously, you have a handle on what SM is to you.  You can sit there anonymously, judge my words, praise my words ... you can form whatever opinion you wish.  That is what SM creates ... a vulnerability from one - a peek into their thoughts or life - while others take it in.  And judge it.  Simple enough.

Recently, I've noticed that there has been a large backlash ... a "self righteousness" of sorts ... for those who feel others use social media differently than they do.  I'm not going to debate that, because there are ALWAYS amazing points to be said for both sides, for living publicly - for living privately.  There are lessons that should be continuously learned on how to do SM better.   And I think that most people would agree with most of the arguments for and against.  

But it is interesting to me --- as one who chooses to use SM for my promoting my business (my Facebook RHP page), to connect with those I don't see on a weekly basis and family from overseas, to glean from super smart people who are sharing their views, to share my faith --- that the accountability only seems to lie with those who put themselves out there, not from those who appear to be wasting their time reading it.  

There are those in my SM circle who post daily, some more than a few times.  They post selfies, or pics of their kids.  We've all done it, we all do it ... or maybe not.  I'm also not wanting to get into the debate of frequency or even the content ... because what I've really wondered was, is there ever a time where it's appropriate to celebrate?

I recently read a VERY well written blogpost that definitely hit some soft spots in me.  It spoke of motivation for posts, about boasting, about time wasted.  For certain.  These are things that we sometimes get better at, and sometimes we are not so good at.  I was challenged by this author's heart and the way they presented the conclusions they've recently come up with.   Very well done, a very worthwhile read to digest and glean from.

As I was reflecting on their words, one thing kept tugging at me - is it possible that the person on the receiving end needs to also use discretion?  Instead of assuming, "they're in Disneyland as a perfect family with their perfect clothes, bragging to the world about how amazing their lives are" ... maybe, the reader needs to check their own heart as to why their first thoughts are negative?  Perhaps that family saved up for three years ... perhaps they just found out their child is sick and haven't told you ... perhaps this is the only week off in the entire year they will have ... maybe this, maybe that.

I wonder why we take it personally when someone chooses to share GOOD news.  "It's bragging."  "It's boasting."  "They need to be sensitive."  "They're wrong."  Why do we feel it's a personal attack on our own shortcomings if someone completes the Tough Mudder in record time, or knits an afghan without a lesson, or their kid scored a hat trick in hockey?

Again ... posting and having your community celebrate because you saved $5.00 on your son's pair of high-tops may not quite cut the "celebratory" status for some.  But - again, seeing the other side too - maybe a mom saw that, went and saved herself $5.00 and then took her kid on a date to DQ to celebrate themselves.  You just never know.

When a young couple chooses to post an image of them with their first set of house keys - is it wrong?  Didn't the reader themselves CHOOSE to be connected with them - making the couple believe that they are in some sort of community with them (as warped as FB may be - it IS community for some, like it or hate it)?  To say, "they need to be sensitive to the fact that I am still living with my parents" or "I can't pay this month's rent" or "I lost my job" or "my husband left me" or or or or ... Those things are real, but separate.  Whatever happened to a genuine "SO HAPPY FOR YOU!!" without feeling like it's an insult to your own life?  Like, if you told someone they did a good job, it confirms you aren't?  It's almost like it hurts some to click "like" or say something nice.  

And the reality is that there isn't a quota to commenting or liking something.  We become a judge on whether we think someone's comment or update is worthy of our acknowledgement.  We try and take-them-down-a-notch ... make it less of a popularity contest.  Put them in their place.  Of course, I'm being silly here - but we all know we do it.  We purposely don't 'like' someone's happy news ... because "that'll show them that the whole world isn't rainbows and butterflies."  How silly.  Isn't that our heart that needs to be looked at, not the poor person who was excited that someone miraculously paid for their oil change this month?  

Here's the thing.  Maybe when someone works hard and graduates, we should CELEBRATE with them rather than think that they're slamming you because you chose not to go down that same path.  Or when someone is rejoicing because they lost 2lbs ... don't assume that they think they're better than you because you feel like you still have 60lb to go.  You're probably not even a part of their thought process, sorry to say.  

Here's another point:  In the same way that people "boast" for accolades, it is important to recognize that some people use rants, self-pity and put-downs for accolades as well.  For validation, an "oh - I'm SO sorry to hear that" or "poor you" or "I'll be praying".  

Is that really so wrong?  When someone needs a pick-me-up, will it really kill you to give an encouraging word?  I say that tongue-in-cheek of course ... because it's annoying, for sure.  It's absolutely an abused practice, just as much as boasting.  But I am being challenged, yet again, to see my heart in WHY I post what I do along with WHY I react how I do.  

Both grace and encouragement seem to go hand in hand.

I think that when you take out "competition" in SM, it just becomes much simpler.  Yes, I agree whole-hearted-ly-100-percent that there are those who abuse SM.  But then ask yourself what YOU can do about it ... perhaps stop following them?  I've never "unfriended" anyone - but people have unfriended me.  Whether they hate my Recovery Church posts or worship videos or they're going to vomit if they see one more image of Katia ... that's their right.  And I do NOT hold it against them.  Honestly.  But what I've chosen to do when I find someone particularly bothersome, is maybe I have their stuff no longer shown on my newsfeed ... so they're still my "friend" (oh, let's not get into the reality of that word), but I don't have to see their rants or their posts on flowers with quotes from Budda.  It's all good.  I'm not going to send them an email and tell them what they should or should not post ... I'm going to exercise my right to just not see it.  Easy peasy.

For me, SM is an every day thing.  It's a part of my "to-do" list.  For my RHP, I have scheduled status updates, images, blogposts.  Personally - I post on Recovery Church, right now a lot on my friend who is dying of cancer ... I used FB yesterday to ask for a yummy chilli recipe *smile*.  

I also think that there are those that should probably stay away from SM.  It haunts them, paranoias them, makes them feel less than they are.  Then here's my advice - GET OFF.  Truly.  If it doesn't serve a purpose, if it doesn't connect you positively - then be brave and get off.  And don't blame others for that, my friend ... own it.  Don't put down those who do, because there is NO shame in having a life without SM - just as there should be no shame of a life with it.  And if you're open and honest, you'll find there are many of those who feel the exact same way.

And if you are a silent SM user ... you know who you are *big smile*.  You're  the person who knows everything, comments on nothing ... there's no trace *grin*.  But be careful to not be hypocritical in your heart of what others are doing - because you are using SM the way that it feels comfortable to you.  And you are purposely not giving anyone an opportunity to judge you on it *wink* - possibly because you're just a whole lot smarter.  

So,  yes ... I'm turning 40 this year.  I hope to have it as a year of real growth.  To have a teachable spirit, because I know that there is much to learn, much I don't know, much that I've got wrong.  But when it comes to encouragement, I want to be known as someone who DOES - not someone who doesn't.

Have an GREAT one! xx

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