Let all that you do be done in love.
~1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV)
I don't know about you, but I recognized recently that since the boom of social media, I've personally had to develop a thicker skin, while trying to maintain and cultivate an ever softening heart.
This is no easy task for a still-in-recovery-people-pleasing-performer. (Anyone else fit this description?)
Picture this scenario which I've heard from women all over the place:
"I went to wish a friend "Happy Birthday" or "Happy Anniversary" or "Thinking of You" (on Facebook, of course, since it only seems to matter these days if we say it there, right?). I didn't need the reminders to tell me it was her special day. But as I went to her timeline to post a greeting, I noticed...*gasp*...that we are no longer Facebook friends.
Now, I've spoken with enough of you out there to know that if you've experienced this kind of thing, you are certainly not alone.
In fact, there's an interesting article on Women and Social Media that you can find here.
Maybe you've been through this and you begin to wonder:
"What did I do to her? Sure, time passes, but how long ago did she decide she didn't want to be connected to me anymore?"
"Good grief, if I offended her enough for this, why didn't she just tell me something's wrong?"
And then, maybe we console ourselves with this, "Get a grip. It's just Facebook!"
I've been through this kind of thing myself - in the online world and in real life. (In fact, it's why I wrote "Why Can't We Just Get Along?")
A year or so ago, I posted a link to an article that I thought was a helpful, encouraging article about finding our value in worth in Christ and who God has made us to be rather than finding it in our careers, social status, financial portfolio, or anywhere else. My motive was to encourage people that they are valuable because of who GOD says they are; not for any other reason. So many folks are trapped in the shame game of trying to prove themselves to no avail. Even still...
Longish story, short: I got 'un-friended' over it.
Here's another example:
A while back I posted a 'tongue-in-cheek' post while going through a challenging season and trying to find at least a little bit of humor in life when everything in me was pulling me to only see the negative. I try to filter my status updates, pictures, etc through the lens of "how might this speak to someone out there to brighten his or her day" or "would this be something my family and close friends might appreciate seeing"? Granted, none of us hits the target every time, but like most of you reading this post, I do try. Every person who interacted with that post got what I was trying to say. All but one...
I got blasted via private message over this, "Shelley, you're in ministry, you should know better than to post something like this." She even claimed that someone in my "financial position" should do better. If she only knew my financial position...
(Like a ministry friend said to me years ago, 'I'm in ministry; I make HUNDREDS of dollars a year!')
When I responded with as much graciousness as I could as I tried to read the post again through her filter, I didn't even get the chance to make it right (whether or not I actually needed to is not the point). I was 'unfriended' by a woman I spent years pouring my own life into through teaching and ministry.
Why do we as women operate in this kind of passive/aggressive kind of behavior when it is so unnecessary?
Why won't we just give one another the benefit of the doubt when we see something that doesn't seem just right to us?
Why are we, especially as Christians, so quick to just write someone off and disengage with them completely rather than talk through our differences?
If you think you're alone in this, you're not. As I've experienced this kind of hurtful passive/aggressive behavior, I saw this post from Author and Speaker, Sheila Walsh, that sums up so much what I'm expressing here:
Yesterday I made a silly comment about sitting on a small plane beside a man who looked to be the size of a wooly mammoth. There was nothing in me that meant to be unkind, I was actually trying to be funny. I asked him how he coped with flights like this and he said he felt like a large dog squeezed into a small purse. If I offended some of you I am truly sorry but some of your comments blew me away. I had to stop reading all the negative comments as I was getting ready to speak at a prayer breakfast and I felt so grieved. Why do we do this? Why do we assume the worst of someone? Why does one unwise post outweigh 100 others? A friend who follows me and is not a believer was horrified by some of the things that my own brothers and sisters in Christ said.
Will I try to be wiser-sure. Can we try to be kinder-please (posted January 6, 2015)
Ladies, as we go about our daily lives, and as we post, comment, like, follow, friend or any of the other ways we interact on social media, let's remember that those on the other side of the screen ARE people. Whether they're people in the public eye or not is really irrelevant:
every life is one for whom Christ died;
every one bears the image of the Most High God;
and every one of these are precious in the sight of the God we claim to know and love.
You and I can't control what others do in their social media lives, but we can decide to use our own for good and never for harm. Need to have a tough discussion over something controversial? Please consider going to that person in love and in real life rather than hashing it out online or cutting the friendship off completely.
I got this in a very kind comment recently on one of my posts and it's definitely worth passing along:
"I know what God thinks of you and I'm going to treat you that way."
The quote she included in her kind comments was made by Brant Hanson Page.
We are better than this and we can do better than this.
Let ALL that you do be done in love. (The Greek for all here means "all" and that includes our online lives.)