Overheard during one of my rather irregular ventures into Facebook:
“Lenten resolution 2018: I’m going to unplug for Lent. I’m going to fast from Facebook.”
Many of my friends were looking for a retreat from the din of online activity. They enjoy social media and, for the most part, they bring a healthy perspective to what can be a contentious environment (think liberal vs. conservative debates, often aimed at the people who post rather than the messages they post). I applaud their efforts to quiet their lives and turn more attention to silence and solitude.
On the other hand, if every faith-filled person abandoned social media for Lent, who is telling the Story of God’s activity? Who is sharing aspects of the Reign of God? Who is going to be Christ’s Online Presence (see my earlier post)?
So this year, my Lenten resolution was to ‘give up giving up’ social media. I don’t do much on Facebook, and even less on Twitter. I use my iPhone’s Snapchat app only to animate my face. So this year, I would be sure to do some Lenten reflection, and then share it regularly online.
It is now halfway through Lent… and I have failed miserably. Every time I think of a meme to make, or motivational poster to produce, or word cloud to create, I either become fearful that it won’t be good enough, afraid of possible repercussions from friends who disagree with my theology, or just succumb to my inclinations to simply go to bed because I’m exhausted. In other words, the very challenges that I need to be addressing this Lent still have the upper hand.
The good news is that God is gentle with me. God knows I’m a shy introvert, more apt to do a little lurking on Facebook that sharing things going on in my life. It is a personality trait, and definitely a family tradition, to be a private person. So I think, rather than beating myself up, I will embrace who God created me to be and maximize who I am. I will write this blog post to tell the Story of God’s gentleness, and then proceed to Facebook. I will not post anything there, but I will use the gifts God gave me of empathy and love for my friends. I will put people in need of prayer on the conduit on my office wall to remind me to pray for them by name, and I will send something to a dear friend who is initiating a ‘Gofundme’ account for a self-employed man in the hospital due to a cardiac emergency. I will accept who I am, and probably not post anything while I am there. I may in the future, but not now because… well… I am fearful, afraid, and too exhausted.
God will understand. Because God is gentle with me.
Here are some tools to use when we are ready to simply keep our Story in the forefront of Facebook. For Memes to Make: (Tool: Student Meme Generator, nature park of photo by Julie Tschida) For Motivational Posters to Produce: (Tool: Big Huge Labs' Motivator, photo by Julie Tschida) For Word Clouds to Create: (Tool: WordArt (formerly Tagul), recognize the Act of Contrition?)