Fasting, Stillness and Celebrations

For the most part I love social media. I think it’s a great avenue to connect, learn and grow….along with sharing pictures with friends. I have made friends just from online communities that I spend time with IRL, and I have found ways to decorate and cook as well. Recently though, I was having a bit of a chaotic mind and heart that I was frankly compartmentalizing and distracting with social media.

For the first few days of November I took a fast from it all. My head and my heart craved the quietness, the space, the stillness. It was nine days of finding a heart that needed to breathe, a mind needing to settle. Honestly I needed to learn to pare down and shut down, to listen more to my self and the call to my heart from God.

heads and heartsIf I am honest with you all, it was difficult the first couple of days when it got quiet. I’d want to go to the phone for distraction, but as the days grew on I realized my dependency on noise to fill the quiet was not healthy. For me, it’s become a noise-filled culture that my head and my heart really can’t quite come to terms with living in 24/7. Even more so, as I have spent time in prayer and reading and just being still I have come to find it’s allowed me time to reflect on the seasons I have been in over the last few years and hear more from God on the one I am finding myself in.

As I was reading the last bit of my study of Esther this morning, I couldn’t help but realize that we’ve subbed out reflection and stillness, in remembering God in our midst and at our defense for quick snippets of Scripture and posted prayer requests for the masses. (I am just as guilty y’all) We quickly jump to the very next thing without sitting in the moment of God’s provision, His timing, His beauty. We can celebrate God’s great strength and faithfulness in our circumstances, but how good are we at marking them for remembrance in our own hearts and lives? How well are we doing at tuning our minds and hearts to see His providing, His rescue and His defense in our lives every single day? I’m really good at knowing what’s going on in my HOA group online, but not so much about God’s working in my heart if I’m not careful.

As I read deeper about Purim, first marked in those pages of Esther, I found that often we forget the faithfulness of the God we love and serve. We move on to the next project, next task, next circumstance without celebrating the goodness of a God Who intervenes, who wants all things to turn out for good in us, who asks for our attention and who absolutely deserves all our devotion.

For me, it’s about tuning out more of the noise and tuning my head and my heart to stillness and quiet, to reflection and celebration of God’s unwavering faithfulness in my  lives of others. That means fasts from social media, choosing time alone, and recognizing the ways in which He provides daily.

The Facebook Comment

This post has been stewing in my head and my heart for over six weeks now. I just couldn’t quite figure out what I wanted to harness and learn from it before I put it out there.

Several weeks ago someone commented on a picture that was posted on Facebook asking if the photo had been taken at my wedding. There was no title to the photo…in fact it’s the one over to the left there. I am not sure as to why it bothered me so much initially, but I posted a correction to the commenter stating it was in fact not my wedding.

The more I lingered on it, the deeper the conversation seemed to dive. I kept finding pockets of contention and hurt, shame and bitterness. Not just within me, but with other singles I broached the topic of this post with. I am not quite sure when, but somewhere along this lovely path of life it became acceptable for others to comment on or speculate on a single person’s life.

“We need to get you married off…”

“How come you’re still single?”

“When are you going to settle down?”

For many these words have come from the mouths of their own family. Thankfully I haven’t experienced that, as my family knows me to be the smartmouth should this get broached with me. It also happened once a couple of Christmases ago with some not-so-immediate family and I put that on lockdown.

These are questions we’ve asked ourselves. In the stillness. In the quiet. In the loneliness of the days, weeks, months of a single life. We don’t need reminding. Nor do we need assumptions being made that we just aren’t quite enough for a mate or a partner. We’ll probably ask them again and again. We’ll shout them at God in frustration, in tension, and in weeping.

Why…When…What’s wrong with me…

Countless times I have asked this myself to God, and to myself. Trust me, I worry enough about my own lack of a mate, that I don’t need someone-even a random friend of a friend on Facebook-wondering about it too. Often it’s cloaked in care for us, or out of love. Let’s stop that right now. I think there’s a bit of uneasiness to singles that many don’t know quite what to do with.

We’re that rag-tag bunch in the church pews disrupting the orderly seating of twos and fours. We are able to eat cereal for dinner sometimes, or not make our beds. We can sleep in on a Saturday if we want and often grab a movie on a whim.

We don’t fit in a box. And for many, that’s just not something they can conceive or understand. But I am okay that you don’t understand my singleness. I often don’t understand your married life or your kid life. Because I am not there, yet. I don’t know the worries that keep you up at night, nor the stress you manage. But I also don’t attempt to fit myself into your shoes in order to give you advice. Nor would I dare to.

So on behalf of singles everywhere…let’s stop commenting on our dating life (or lack thereof). Let’s stop assuming you have the perfect person for them or can tell them why they are single. Please, for the sake of friendships and relationships, let’s stop commenting on our dating life and start supporting our blessed life.

Singles, let’s stop harping on our lack of a mate and start loving the freedom to build community, to serve, to share, to grow. This time is a blessing, not a curse. It’s time we stopped adding a stigma to singleness that makes so many want to flee, and start lovingly cherishing the time we have.

Airing of Grievances

Monday was a Monday for all intents and purposes. I had a bit of a rough day and then committed my big cardinal sin. I shared a vague Facebook status update about it. Normally I don’t do that. I don’t like when others throw these vague updates that are either passive aggressive or looking for empty platitudes.

But I had a moment. I caved and shared that I had cried in the office.

That’s when I gave myself a hard time…for not dealing with the situation better, not holding my emotions together over a frustration better, and ultimately not keeping it off of social media like I usually do. While I often delve into personal areas here on the blog, I try to keep it just above my nerve endings or talk about it once I am well past the moment.

However sometimes we do need to process immediately. We do need to share that life isn’t all roses and splendor. We need to remove the sheen we have so adeptly placed on our lives for others and go, “Yeah, I had a hard day today and could use some comfort.” While I don’t condone those who only complain or throw their “woe is me” attitude all over Facebook-you know who you are-I would say it helps to share in the safety of community at times.

For me, my community at that moment was friends on Facebook. In wasn’t in a group of strangers or my professionals group…and it also wasn’t too over the top to warrant a deep discussion in the comments. It happens, and we move on. We realize we are human, as are others that we interact with daily, and we find that sometimes our emotions need to spill over because our heart just cannot hold them in any longer.

For a very long time I felt sharing emotions was a sign of weakness, of instability, of a need for attention. Slowly I am realizing that when emotion flows over it is because I am human, and there are things I struggle with, and how best to rectify that tension within myself and within a situation.

I understand too that God is with us in those moments. He is with me, right there in that moment. He provides that safe shelter-a safe haven-while the storm rages, while the emotions overflow, while my heart gets frustrated with the tension that has no logic or reason to it at that moment. I take for granted He knows my heart, He knows the situation and that He knows my thoughts. Instead of me coming to Him, I just throw it off as “Well He’s the Creator of the universe, He knows the number of hairs on my head…I don’t have to tell Him this.” So instead I run and tell others, or I let it stay pent up until it explodes from my tear ducts.

Yesterday made me realize that I too quickly pick others over God to listen when I am hurting. While that is not a bad thing, it’s not necessarily good either. Yes, He knows my heart but don’t you like it when a close friend shares their heart even when you know it already? That’s what God is desiring of me more and more, if I would stop airing my grievances to others first and run to Him.

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentiveto my cry for mercy.

Psalm 130:1, 2

The Social Me

I had plans to write on something else this morning. In fact it was something that had spawned yesterday and continued to weigh heavy on my mind and hear throughout the night and this morning. But then I logged into Facebook and knew that the post I had been attempting to craft for two weeks needed to just be done and posted.

You see, I popped into one of my favorite online communities in Facebook. One that has had a hand in supporting and encouraging me throughout the last few months to pursue the dream to write. There it was…a steady stream of “ME!” posts. And while I must put the disclaimer out there that I too have posted my own blog on there or shared a trying “me” time, I got agitated. It was post after post that went from whining about being called out for tardiness to a friends gathering (which was rude by the person who did it), to a photo of someone’s sister’s sonogram (seriously?!) and then brag after brag…which for this group has become the norm to pull up to the brag table.

That’s when I just had enough. This community was created for coming together across the globe to talk about dreaming and then building, how we do it, how we can engage others in it, and then how to step beyond that dream into reality. I even tried to engage in a step beyond post and got told “Just write.”

We’re in a place now where we have to ask our own family to put away their phones at holiday gatherings…my cousins did this at Thanksgiving and are planning to do it again in the next two days as we gather to celebrate Christmas. Yes I have social media, and yes I have this blog…but I feel like the focus has turned from connecting one another to besting one another on Facebook, on Twitter, and even in blogs. We have to post our food (guilty), our gifts (guilty), and our best selves (I have thus far resisted that urge). We show the gloss and the best in order to craft our best life to others.

Can we not live life anymore outside of our status update or funny quip on Twitter? (and yes I am as guilty as the rest) But when do we say enough? When do we take back something that was created for inherent good and say, “No more!” (My nerd self is imagining Gandalf with his staff questioning each time we post)

Maybe the social “me” is tired of it all. Tired of being too accessible, tired of knowing all about people and preventing any authentic conversations from occurring in person. Tired of catching up with people by seeing photos of their kids, their crafts, and their status updates. Instead I’d like to bring back the catching up over coffee, over a lunch, over a long conversation with an actual person. I’d like the interaction to be intimate and active, not passive and ignoring that message or like. Let’s share life authentically, and in reality…

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If you’d like to read my post on living in real life community, you can check it out here.

Stop Creepin’.

That moment when you find your most recent ex on Facebook. He’s got another woman in his picture, or a mutual friend comments “Congratulations!” on a photo of a hand, with a large, aptly placed ring on a finger.

In this day and age of social media, I truly believe it’s easier than ever to keep up with friends from years ago across countries and nations. I also believe it’s alot harder to let go of your past and insecurities. Even as late as my college years, I could date someone andwe’d break up…and I honestly wouldn’t see him that often unless we had a class together. I wouldn’t get the smack of rejection or defeat, of the voice of my insecurity coming screaming back at me unless I ran into him haphazardly out in public. Going to a large state school, that wasn’t usually happening too often.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

With the joy of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s all too easy to access information about that last person you dated. And his new girlfriend. Or her weekend away to meet his folks (speaking for all you guys out there). It’s easy to mistake that for being a snub to you, feeling as if they are flaunting every bit of your insecurity in your face.

I have been there, trust me…it’s a slippery slope when you start creeping on Facebook or Twitter. You think, Oh I’ll just give it a quick look-see, and then I’ll know I am better off than he is right now. Then you see the new fun times being had with a girl who looks better (or worse possibly) than you do. Or you see his friends commenting on how greatthey are together. I honestly believe that swings open a door for the devil to tempt you into believing his lies of insecurity and doubt. I have had countless conversations with ladies about the lies they believe about themselves when they see a picture or a status update that has nothing to do with them.

I know it’s difficult to let go, and it’s easier to just creep on over daily (or even hourly for some that I have spoken to) “just to see” or even to send a message to them…or attempt to be friends with them again. There’s a reason they have moved on to someone else. Or even if they are alone and you’re popping over to check in on them, it’s unhealthy. It leads down a very steep path, and if you aren’t careful it could begin to control you. The drama. The stirred up emotions and hostilities. The lies spiraling inward.

Beth Moore states it so well, “We don’t have to love something for it to become a god to us. All we have to do is devote our most valuable mental attentions to it.” Don’t let it be your god today. Don’t give it any more mental attention that it has already taken from you. You are far too valuable to allow another person to trip up your security or confidence.

Christmas Greetings!

Somehow “Throwback Thursday” got started via Instagram a while back. In honoring the awesomeness of social media, I started throwing some of my old school photos up there for people to enjoy. I would then post them on Facebook just as a joke. It seems many people enjoy seeing me as a child, with really bad hairstyles and the best clothing choices of the 80’s.

I thought today I would give you some Christmas greetings on this Throwback Thursday with two early photos of me. They are my Christmas gift to you this holiday season.The first one you can see the utter fear I have of Santa in my eyes. This is (I believe) the only known photo of me with Santa as a child, as I feared the man. (Note: I still clench my hands like that in stressful situations) My mom tells the story of when I was two, upon seeing him walk towards me in JCPenney I started wailing at his knees and was in a full blown panic attack (kiddie style) by the time I reached his beard. It’s taken some time but three years ago, my sister and I got our photos made on Santa’s lap for my mom as a gift. The second photo is actually from my very first Christmas. I was such a cute chubby baby.

May your Christmas be filled with memories as glorious as my outfits!

saraandsanta1986

sara1981