|Photo by Shelley Hendrix|
Is Facebook Testing You?
By Shelley Hendrix12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the fiery troubles that are coming in order to test you. Don’t feel as though something strange is happening to you, 13 but be happy as you share Christ’s sufferings. Then you will also be full of joy when he appears again in his glory...19 Those who suffer because that is God’s will for them must entrust themselves to a faithful creator and continue to do what is good. 1 Peter 4:12 (GOD's Word Translation)
In this day and age where social network users tend to highlight only the best of the best of edited photos and posts, and where the media outlets tend to highlight only the most negative stories happening around us, it's easy to drift along towards the pull of whichever source gets most of our attention. In other words, living in either extreme has become quite normal for our generation.
So where do you find yourself most days on the spectrum? What do you tell yourself when you're inundated with pictures and posts reflecting new cars, new homes, vacations, Honor Roll students, wedding photos, Pinterest perfection, and such?
Where does your mind go when you watch the news or read the headlines about another shooting, another attack, another crime, another major storm?
Scripture teaches us that "fiery tests" come into the lives of each and every follower of Jesus. It also reveals to us that these testing times should not come as any surprise. (I wrote in more detail about God's tests which you can find here.) I think that one of the ways our flesh patterns of wrongful thinking become made known is by our own emotional and mental response to what we see others post through their social networks and by our knee-jerk response to the headlines.
There's a lot of talk these days about the wonders and the woes of social media. Some love it. Some hate it. Some love to hate it. Some hate to love it. I've found the balance (for me) in simply remembering that social media, like facebook here, is merely a glimpse into people's lives--it helps us connect to a certain degree; but if we allow it to replace real life connection, we're heading down a slippery slope. Facebook isn't my diary, so I don't share everything here. I have honest-to-goodness, in-real-life relationships who get to know the mess behind the pictures posted and the nitty-gritty details of relationship struggles, financial hardships, personal pain and such. When I see posts, I remember the same is true for all of us: life is messy, unpredictable, and we all deal with personal pain. It doesn't mean we want to share this level of transparency online--and wisely so. Someone once taught me the value in living authentically in front of all, but choosing to be transparent only with a few. I certainly believe this applies in this setting. #My2Cents #FWIW (For what it's worth)
As you read what is posted online via social networks (and blogs!) and/or as you see the headlines, pay attention to what you begin to think about and what you begin to feel. Do your thoughts and emotional responses lean towards negative self-talk? Does your mind or heart begin fretting and worrying over the headlines? Do you begin to feel a little depressed? Do you ever feel hopeless?
It is helpful in these times to remember that although our Father does not always initiate these posts or headlines to hurt us, nor the other triggers that hit our buttons, He may just be allowing these experiences to test ~ purify ~ our hearts and minds from the debris that remains inside of our thought patterns and emotional reactions.
Consider re-scripting your internal monologue with these thoughts when the negative ones erupt:
- God, I have everything I need TODAY to do what you have for ME to do TODAY. Thank you for providing for my needs moment-by-moment, day-by-day.
- Father, your grace in me means that even in the worst of experiences, you're weaving your own redemptive thread that is in the process of creating something beautiful ~ something I'm one day going to be so glad you did. May the Jesus in me empower me to be grateful NOW through faith in your good character.
- Lord Jesus, I recognize that just because it isn't my turn to have a party today, it doesn't mean you don't have one in the works. Through Christ's power in me, I choose to celebrate the good things happening for others today in the same way that I would like for them to do for me when it IS my turn.
- God, the world can get so dark sometimes. I become so overwhelmed by the evilness. Point my focus on your sovereignty, let your light shine brightly through me. Help me to remember that, when all is said and done, the darkness doesn't win over the Light of the world.
You don't have to use these verbatim, of course, but I hope you'll find them to be helpful in your own journey. I pray that this helps you Live WITH Purpose (intentionality, focus, priorities, determination) WiThOUT the Pressure (false guilt, performance-driven for acceptance, hiddenness, etc.)
Enjoy social media, pray as you become aware of the headlines, engage where the Spirit tells you to engage; but remember, above all, to spend time with the Voice of Truth!
Because He First Loved me,