Monday, March 27, 2017
Connected: Halfway Through Lent
So I don't actually know if we're halfway through Lent, but I'm thinking we're several weeks in and
we're still several weeks away from Easter.
One of my fasts (who am I kidding? Pretty much my only fast ;) ) was from social media. It's been such an interesting time. On one hand, I find myself with more mental space and energy and just time in general. I like feeling more in the present moment instead of feeling 'caught' with my phone in hand when my husband or daughter are around. I like feeling more available in the here and now. I just feel more free and relaxed and focused in the moment, which is beautiful and makes me contemplate and question how much of social media I want to allow back into my life when Easter comes.
But there's something unexpected that I realize I'm missing lately.
Not the connection of knowing who's doing what and when. Not the nosy scrolling on Facebook. Not the competitive scrolling on Pinterest to stay connected to what's in and what's out. Not even the connection to giveaways on Instagram (um...actually I take that back. I'm a sucker for giveaways.)
But I'm missing the relational connection, connection with other women friends. The community that's found through social media. With staying at home full-time, it's encouraging to see other friends, moms, and just women in general living life and the little moments they're cherishing. I often felt refreshed and rejuvenated by those connections.
So what's a girl to do? Do I conclude that the benefits of social media outweigh the negatives?
Maybe. But Lent is not over so I'm not ready for conclusions. There are a few lessons I feel the Lord is teaching me...and it's not quite about the benefits of social media.
I'm learning we all need connection. Especially women. We live so isolated today compared to how families and villages used to live in community. This can feel especially lonely in the child-raising years when it's a little harder to get out of the house (though the single years can feel really isolated too!). So we turn toward social media-- facebook groups, instagram friends, etc. And while this can be good, it can't replace the "IRL" relationships...the real, face-to-face, in-the-flesh friendships that we're meant to cultivate. So I'm allowing this time of missing my online connections to nudge me to seek out real-life ones. I'm taking walks with my neighbor, texting friends when I need encouragement, inviting friends to visit even when my house is messy.
Honestly, it takes some motivation to reach out and connect in real life. It's so much easier to click on an app when I need connection and sign out when I'm 'filled'. But that's not the tidy, selfish way relationships are meant to be. They're meant to be a little inconvenient. They're meant to draw us out of ourselves and make us a little uncomfortable. That's what it takes to learn to be real and to grow...and we can't do that online no matter how much we preach authenticity in our profiles and bios. We're still editing and concealing and subconsciously choosing what we present. We're missing out on the raw beauty of an up-close-and-personal, messy-hair-day, don't-have-it-all-together-but-I'm-here kind of friendship.
I'm also learning that when we crave connection...it might just go a little deeper than even real-life relationships. At our very core, we desire friendship with God. And even more, He desires that with us. Have you ever heard the saying, "Loneliness is God's cry for intimacy and friendship time with you."? The beauty and vulnerability in that gets me every time. We're so quick to fill our loneliness with social media or friends or spouses or even kids. I know my greater instinct when I'm lonely is to call my mom or sister, or spend time with my husband or girlfriends. But this Lent I'm trying to make my first instinct to be to seek out the Lord, my greatest Friend. He is the only one who can ever truly fill my aches and desires and needs, so why not go to Him first? I want intimacy and friendship and connection with Him...and knowing He wants that with me is all the more inviting.
Join me these next few weeks to pause when we're feeling lonely or craving connection? Let's seek God first and spend time with Him, and then ask Him what relationships around us in real life we can cultivate to grow the abundant grace of rich and lasting friendships. He's the perfect Friend, and growing in friendship with Him will teach and guide us to be better friends to those around us.