Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sacrificing Community, Settling for Connection

Sometimes we have to let go of the good - to embrace the great God has prepared for us. We have to obey when we don't understand.  I think that we often miss God's best for us because we refuse to let go of the "good" things that we see we can do right *now*.

We all sacrifice so many great things because we don't have faith to let go of the good. We don't trust how GREAT the GREAT is gonna be.  Sometimes, we sacrifice the great because we want things NOW and we think, "well I will just take THIS that I see right now because at least the good I see I can have right NOW is immediate, I don't have to wait - and it's a SURE thing". We just have little faith & settle mentalities. What does this have to do with anything??? Well I continually go through ups & downs with Facebook and recently I have felt God leading me away from it again.  It makes sense when God asks me to step away because I'm wasting time, but it's harder to accept when God asks me to step away and I'm actually doing lots of good activities on there.   I can't believe how difficult it is to let go of "good" sometimes.  But it made me think about how much we all do this...

We sacrifice unconditional love and we settle for attention & affirmation.  We refuse to give the most time & focus to the One who loves without condition.

We sacrifice acceptance and we settle for approval.   We keep our eyes' locked on others' eyes watching us, instead of keeping our eyes' locked on the One Who Sees Us.

We sacrifice significance and being who God designed us to be and we settle for popularity.  We let numbers & worldly measures determine our decisions & how we are doing.

And the conclusion God has brought me to this week is that....we sacrifice true community because we settle for "connection".   

Facebook is not the issue.  Please let me remove the excuses for all of us that are blamers.  Facebook is not inherently evil nor inherently bad - it's just like money.  It takes on the condition of whoever possess it - it can be used for good or evil.  Facebook is not the issue.  Self is the issue.  

Self gets addicted to Facebook because self is full of pride, laziness, coveting, selfishness, lustful conditions. Self is the issue.  And we all know that issues are multiplied and magnified 100 x on media (social or not).  
So it should be quite clear for all of us to see - Facebook addiction is an issue. 

I see this issue now for what it really is.  

Facebook addiction is to community what porn is to marriage.   

Porn is an easy substitute for true intimacy, that takes time, effort & work.  True intimacy takes a lot of *giving* -- not just taking!  Porn is selfish.  Porn is a counterfeit relationship. Facebook addiction is an easy substitute for true intimacy.  Facebook addiction is selfish.   Facebook addiction maintains an entire neighborhood of counterfeit relationships.  

On Facebook, all the images and updates, just like porn,  are addictive.  It's an easy fix to get quick conversation.  Quick feedback, quick affirmation.  Our facebook activity quickly can take a nasty turn from admiring people, being inspired by people ---- into outright sin.  Coveting & lusting over what other people have - even good things.  We covet others' success in ministry that they SEEM to have, quality friendships they SEEM to have, quality family life they SEEM to have.

Coveting, lusting, desiring immediate affirmation when we want it - all addictive, all sinful.  

Those are all negative aspects of Facebook over-use --- but even if we ONLY ever did GOOD things on Facebook - the truth is that when we become addicted, we are sacrificing community because we are settling for connection.   We are settling for connection because we either do not know HOW to do the hard work to form quality relationships - or we are not willing to do the hard work.  

How easy is it to connect on Facebook?  I don't care who you are, you can find a group that is for you on Facebook.  Moms? there's a group for you! Homeschoolers: Group!  Any school: group!  Looking for people who bird watch in your city?  I am sure you can find them on FBook!   Love to do yoga with your dog as you SUP?  There's probably a group for that too!

Connection is a good thing.  Facebook is a great way to get connected. 

But connection is not enough.  What we all truly desire is community, isn't it???

Unfortunately, when you sacrifice community - you are also sacrificing the practice of being in community.  Facebook addiction actually cripples us from being able to be an actual friend who knows how to love the unloveable.  A friend that is patient and gracious.  A friend that is willing to go through the messiness of real, true life.  A friend that is willing to hurt each other, annoy each other, forgive and still be friends.

How EASY is it to have a friend on Facebook!?!  OMGoodness I LOOOOVE everybody on Facebook. It's so easy to love on them - send them nice words that barely take any time or thought.   I mean I seriously feel total total love *feelings* for my Facebook friends.  I think they are gorgeous, I think their kids are gorgeous, I think they are funny, sweet, encouraging and they are seriously easy to love.

Enter real life.

Omgoodness they are not that funny when they can't go back & edit their joke.   They are actually kind of rude.   And it's actually really hard to figure out what they are TRYING to say in their words.   They aren't that sweet when we have been around each other too long and the kids are tired & we are tired & we are not in the comfort of our worn out stained computer chair & sunflower seed embedded keyboard.  They are not always encouraging and smiley and happy and sending me nice messages.  Instead, friends are often very selfish because the reality is.... it's hard to control our public image in REAL life..... and the truth is that REAL people are hard to love.   We are ALL very unloveable very often!!!    And it takes WORK to communicate and use words & think before we speak and be patient & gracious when people and OPK (other people's kids) are up in our stuff.

Here's my point.  I need a new rhythm in my relationships.   Forget "balance".  Ugh, I don't want to ever say the word balance ever again in my life.  Balance is a daunting word -  it's like "potential" - I've always disliked that word, too.   Balance is an illusion.  We won't ever have balance - different seasons throw us off, in different periods of time certain things DO need more attention and we will be off "balance" for an extended period.   Ew, forget balance - we just need rhythm.  We just gotta make sure we are dancing to the song of the season as best we can.... and are listening to the music the Creator is putting on for us.  When it's time to shift and slow down, we have to and when it's time to get going, we gotta move & shake it!   I'm aiming for a good rhythm in my days & in my years.

The rhythm that *I* need right now and the dance *I* am dancing is way different than yours.  Every heart is so different in fact that I can't tell you what you are addicted to and where you are off rhythm.  We have different music playing, my friends - so don't follow me.   Just follow my desire to want to dance in step with my King and to stop jumping on everybody's toes so much because I'm way off the beat.

Here's a dance step I'm adding in effective immediately.  Facebook is now going to be treated for what it is - a place to connect with friends & acquaintances.
Facebook is not my spouse that is my priority over all earthly relationships.
Facebook is not my child that I need to tend to and check in on every 5 minutes -Can I get an amen, seriously!?
Facebook is the coffee house, bar or park (if you're a Mommy like me) where you visit once a week maybe twice a week to catch up with friends & check in with people.  To see what's going on around town - and even meet a new friend or two.

Facebook is a good place to connect.   I really feel I do good things on Facebook.  I am inspired by ministry friends. I pass on love.  I monitor groups to make sure they are welcoming, kind places to connect.  I help connect people to each other & to resources they could use.  I encourage mommies.  I check in with friends.  I am encouraged by others.  I learn about every horrendous crime that happened last night & what color I would be if I was a color - oh wait - those are not that good.

But I AM willing to give up good things *when God asks me to* - because I know God has great plans in place for my life.    Sadly, I will go through a detox phase and things will get worse before they get better.  It is really hard to let go of good things - but I know the GREAT will be worth it!!

I hope I can encourage somebody else - get into real life relationship.  Do not sacrifice community for connection.   Be willing to do the HARD WORK of pouring into quality relationships.

Facebook addiction makes you feel more lonely - so lonely that it may seem impossible to give up this place of GOOD connection.    But to get to a place of quality relationships, you have to be willing to feel the pain of facing reality!   It's going to be really really hard to detox from Facebook again.  I've gone without it for 7 months before so I know I can do this new rhythm and put Facebook in its proper place - but it's hard!  It makes me face the reality of how messed up my time management has gotten and it makes me face the reality of how little time I've given to real in life connection, again.   My rhythm is out of whack, people!!  Sorry for all of you whose toes I've stepped on as I danced all crazy.  Sorry to those that I've left on the regular life dance floor as I ran to the Facebook dance floor. My concern now is -  is there ANYBODY left on the real life dance floor!? How long until somebody will join me!?

The world needs more people willing to go through the hard of life.  Facing the reality that life is not about feelings and we don't always get the attention, connection we want.   Facing the reality that less about me GETTING and more about me GIVING.   Facing the reality that *everything* in life worth having takes HARD WORK & intention & effort & focus.   The reality that love is HARD to do.

The world needs more people willing to do hard work, not indulge in easy fixes.  More people that are willing to get into close relationships and not always choose the comfort that loving from a distance provides.  Real life communication & investing in others is hard work.

Facebook addiction makes you more SELF-conscious because you are more others-focused. 
Focused on how others see you.  Focused on what others have.  Focused on what others are doing. Focused on other people's rhythm in their life.  Focused on what others' *pictures* look like. Focused on a projected image - NOT reality. 

The world needs more people who are loving-others-conscious because they are Jesus-focused.