Saturday, March 23, 2013

Life before Facebook

What was life like before Facebook?

This thought came to mind when trying to remember exactly WHEN I joined Facebook.  According to my time line, I joined April 27, 2008.  I joined to stay in touch with my kids who lived hundreds of miles away. Over the next few months, I discovered Facebook to be an essential communication tool. Within the year, I was using Facebook to stay in touch with my Children's Ministry friends across the country, my church family and Children's Ministry team, extended family,  local friends and friends I hadn't contacted in decades.

It is easy to know what I've done since Facebook. There is more than enough information recorded in my Facebook "timeline" to answer that question. By clicking on the Activity tab, I can retrace the events of my life back to April 27, 2008.  It is a virtual longterm memory vault build with hundreds of photos and short term memories bites.

I rarely go a day without logging into Facebook on my laptop, iPhone or iPad. I've logged into Facebook from the comfort and familiarity of my own bedroom as well as from the tip of South Africa. I've posted photos at sea level from my lounge chair on the beach and from the edge of a frozen lake high up in the mountains of Colorado.

I have friends from all over the world who are just a click away.  I may only see them once a year, but we share our lives through quips, prayer requests, shared photos and virtual chit-chat.

It's more of a challenge to recall what life was like before Facebook.

Before Facebook.....

  • I was tethered to a land phone or cellphone.  I talked on the phone, a lot!  I purchased my first cellphone in 1986 to keep up with my real estate customers, clients and colleagues. It was the best tool for my business and it quickly became my go to mode of communication for personal communication as well.  When smart phones became available, I used the new features mainly for email and web browsers.  It would be a long time before I sent my first SMS text. 
  • I wrote more letters and notecards. This is not a positive change.  I still think letters and notecards are the most intimate and elegant forms of distance communication. I save the ones I am lucky enough to receive so I can reread them.  I have a drawer full of notecards and stationary, but do not write as often as I should. I'm ashamed to admit I am quick to say thank you via Facebook when a Thank you note would make a better statement of my appreciation. 
  • I exchanged and collected real photographs.  Good of bad, I had prints of every photo I'd ever taken as well as copies of photos taken by others. We exchanged photos by mail or in person.  I had boxes and photo albums full of pictures. When friends or family visited, they would flip through those photo albums and let me bore them with a narrative of each one.  I still have framed photos all over my house, but they are becoming somewhat dated.
  • My friendships were limited by proximity. Friendships are built on day to day connections while doing life. It is difficult to develop friendships with limited contact, so my friendships were limited to people in my community.  Basically,  I had close local friends and acquaintances I saw once a year, I would have liked to call friends. 
  • I had more hobbies.  I took piano and voice lessons, created projects around the house and rearranged closets and furniture more often.  I knew I would never play piano or sing well enough to entertain others. I surely didn't need another knitted scarf.  It was how I avoided  boredom and entertained myself. 
  • I regularly journaled on paper with pen.  I learned early on I process things better by putting my thoughts on paper. I could write for hours until I began to experience sourness in my hands and fingers. I filled volumes for an audience of one. I began a prayer journal and my audience grew to three - God, Jesus and me.  I still journal sporatically, but only to express my more private thoughts and prayers. 

Good or not so good changes and not good or bad just different, that's my short list.   

How has your life changed since you joined Facebook?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Kinda Scary

I've been mulling this over for a few months and just didn't know how to express my angst.   When I make this post live, I will probably offend many, but it's my own guilt and shame that drives me to post.    

First and foremost, I confess and seek to convict then correct my own actions.  I am NOT calling YOU out.  I am calling US out!  If any of this rings true in you, I invite you to join me in confessing to the world.... We, as Christians, have a real image problem.

Sometimes, we Christians can be kinda scary.

I don't think anyone who follows Jesus ever intends to scare the very people we attempt to reach. We mean well, but by our words and lame attempts to speak for God, we can actually scare people away.... far away... from the most amazing love relationship of all times with Jesus.

Christians are scary when we convict others as sinful or make it our business to take political stands to make sure others are set straight or penalized.  Christians are even scarier when tempted to share their opinions on others' actions, life choices and decisions on Facebook or Twitter.  It's blatantly self-righteous,  downright offensive and invites God to come after us.

Jesus was VERY specific about the punishment for judging others.

Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged."

I need to be reminded. Jesus tells us to judge ourselves, only.

Matthew 7:3-4  “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?

Nothing is scarier than when Christians find out unsolicited judgments and bold statements of religious convictions are received as off-putting and offensive instead of enlightening.  When called out, you'd think we'd respond with grace and repent of our judgmental behavior, but most of us just don't want feedback.  We simply shut down and throw up barriers by going into self-righteous mode.

Instead of remaining open to listen, fully understand and love those we've offended, we throw up self-protective barriers. We may think we are "standing up for God's word" or "sharing the love", but in reality we end up using God's word as a shield of defense or a weighty cub to hit others over the head with.  We rarely apologize and reach out to the offended.  Instead we dismiss, disrespect and, as a result, alienate just about everyone - at least everyone who otherwise might love to hear about our loving Lord Jesus.

I am most ashamed of my own bouts with self-righteous and judgmental behavior and grieve the damage my scary self caused.  I don't want to be perceived as a scary Christian, but I've been guilty....more than once. Of that I am sure.

So, I'm challenging myself to focus on extracting the big old plank in my own eye. I may need to unfriend or hide friends who continue to use Facebook and Twitter as a bully club of judgement instead of a vehicle for love and understanding. I'm not doing it as a protest but as a commitment to remove myself from the temptation to comment. (I still find it difficult to keep my big judgmental mouth shut.)

I'm praying I can learn to throw all that wasted energy into deepening honest and open face-to-face relationships with those around me.  I want to learn to listen and understand praying God will open the door for me to share my heart.

Go Ahead - Google it!