Recently, in the heat of my 1st world miserable annoyance with FB as fellow human beings around the world go hungry and without the knowledge of a savior, I was pondering the role of FB in my life. I was pondering, “hmm… what did we do with all of our unexpressed thoughts before FB (and before blogs and message boards for that matter)?” Granted, there are a lot of great things about FB (and blogs) which I am not going to diminish. I have seen virtual choirs of praise through posts and comments and I’ve seen people be uplifted and encouraged. I’ve seen people get to know one another better in ways that they otherwise would not have been able to do. Social media is a great tool. But I thought, “Where would my thoughts go if I was not formulating them into a status update?” And I found that my answer was really disturbing to me. I would otherwise be speaking them to God. My frustrations, my confessions, my failures, my thanks to Him… Sometimes I find that I have said “Thank you” to God on FB rather than speaking those words to Him. Of course, as I said above, a chorus of thanks and praise to God when people join with you in praising Him is a beautiful thing and I’m not trying to diminish that or come to the conclusion that I should never express written praise to God before His Facebook Friends… the Psalmists, among others would likely disagree. But am I just thanking Him publicly or do I praise Him in the silence? Would I even know how?
How beautiful it is to praise Him and thank Him together. How good it is for us to be able to share the words of scripture with one another when they pierce our hearts throughout the week, over boundaries of states, countries and oceans. But I confess too that sometimes I will read the verses that people post on FB and somehow count these spurts as a devotional time, because it touched me or made me think. How readily I exchange time with God for something less consuming. I’m all for regular bursts of scripture truth coming from all sorts of people who are experiencing God’s grace in all sorts of ways throughout the day… but how much I miss of Him when I don’t seek Him in solitude before seeking anything else! I know He knows our thoughts but He is a relational God who speaks to us in his Word and by His Spirit. I have found myself saying, “You’re in my prayers,” to someone and then feeling (not purposefully but somehow beneath it all) that since I said I was praying, it’s just as if I’ve actually prayed.
Why is the answer to “Where would my thoughts go if I was not formulating them into a status update?” so disturbing? Because how much actual praying have I not done due to my desire for feedback? How much relational time with my savior God have I lost out on because I was formulating thoughts for a god that responds not within minutes, but seconds! God doesn’t “like” my thoughts. He doesn’t comment to let me know that I’m funny or thoughtful. He doesn’t give me quick answers. How easily I settle for momentary feedback and the knowledge that at least X amount of people (friend list) have heard me when I have a divine audience of One. While I genuinely want to be an encouragement to people and use FB for that purpose (and I pray that this post is an encouragement in some way), I confess that sometimes I am just venting because I like prayer with feedback better than prayer and silence before God. James 5:16 So I am confessing before you all that I have misused this tool.
Facebook (along with every other form of social media that I have been on) has always given me a sense of restlessness… comments, likes, updates, etc. There is power in the red notification numbers on that little globe! If Facebook is teaching me anything right now, it’s not just that internet privacy is a sham (!) but that just as Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
The irony? This entire post was initially written in a status update.