Friday, January 10, 2014

Wisdom & Relationships

Jordan and I listened to a great message last night by Andy Stanley called "Ask It." (You can check out the series here.) He challenged us to ask ourselves, in light of (1) our previous experiences, (2) our current circumstances, and (3) our future hopes and dreams, if this is the wise thing for me to do. ('This' being any situation or decision I'm faced with, becoming aware of how even seemingly small decisions can set me on a path towards God's best for me or distraction, despair, destruction.)

THEN, as the Lord so lovingly does for me often, He reinforced this message in my devotion time, some of which was an excerpt from "I Will Look Up" by Kari Patterson.
(A great 31-day devotional to encourage you to seek the Lord first in your life.)

It was such a good passage that I just want to share with you today and let it speak for itself. I personally think it's a great challenge to be aware and hold ourselves accountable to how we often, casually, approach ways to spend our time or meet our need for connection.

I want to prayerfully consider her words and the guidelines listed to consider if I'm making wise choices that are good for me -in light of my previous experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams.

Day 5: Online Relationships and Seeking Him

"I thought I was the only one.

I read a study last week that found that while 91% of people feel more connected as a result of Facebook, only 29% of people reported that it made them feel happier. In fact, a vast majority of people admitted self-destructive habits including gawking over people from the past (83%) and comparing themselves to others (76%). Strangely, we love being connected to all of these people, but we aren’t any happier because of it.

We’re funny creatures, aren’t we?

Don’t worry, this isn’t a FB-bashing article. I’m on there too. Although I’ll admit I’m not often actually  on there. I check in occasionally, but whenever I start scrolling down the feed, aimlessly
searching for who-knows-what, I find myself sucked into the social media hole. I emerge later—too much later—feeling a little dizzy and disillusioned. And, strangely, although I’m connecting with people there, I actually feel more disconnected to the real-time 3-D life I’m living right there in the moment.

It’s not all bad. Obviously the problem is us, not social media. But it poses a problem we must deal with – how to effectively exercise discernment and discipline in our relationships when we just have so stinkin’many of them.

Are our online relationships help or hindrance to our relationship with Christ? To seeking Him first?

Every person we interact with online is a form of relationship. Even if we only gawk at her photos or roll our eyes at her status updates. Even if we just spend an hour perusing her site because we're so fascinated by her life. Every person we interact with creates a form of relationship, which influences us at least in the moment and sometimes even more.

Some sites I visit genuinely equip me, inspire me, encourage me, and challenge me. The online world isn't an evil one. The point of this post is this:

We must evaluate: What is the fruit of my online relationships? Is it helping or hindering? (A relationship can be a two-way interaction or simply one-way interaction with an online in-put of any kind.)

Questions to consider: After spending time with this person or on this site …

  • Do I want to engage more in the nitty-gritty details of my life or do I want to escape?
  • Do I feel inspired, challenged, and encouraged to live for God or distracted and dis-heartened?
  • Do I feel comparison and competition as a result of our interaction or do I feel confronted, convicted, comforted, or celebrated?
  • Does this person exhibit the fruit of the Spirit? 
We must exercise discipline with who we allow into our homes and our hearts. Scripture says,“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23). Your life springs from my heart. And when my heart is overwhelmed with the picture-perfect images of immaculate homes, do-everything women who apparently never melt down in a heap of tears, or catty comments that sprung up on the social media feed, it's harder to walk in the extravagant grace of Jesus Christ and keep my eyes on the life He's given me here.

I'm not advocating living in a bubble, but I'm encouraging all of us to be discerning women. Our hearts are our most precious possession. Guard yours fiercely. 

(I do believe that thoughtful, intentional, online inputs are absolutely helpful in this life of faith. I wouldn’t have my blog if I didn’t. I believe we can create a safe, edifying circle where we’re challenged, equipped, inspired, convicted, and encouraged to know, love, and follow Jesus Christ.My goal for Sacred Mundane is exactly that, and I’d be honored to interact with you there. Come visit?)

 Action Step »
Check out these great 12 guidelines for social networking below (included in Tim Chester’s new book, Will You Be My Facebook Friend?) and spend some time today evaluating your online inputs.

Twelve Guidelines for Social Networking by Tim Chester

  1. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say were the people concerned in the room.
  2. Don't say anything online that you wouldn't share publicly with your Christian community.
  3. Ensure your online community is visible to your offline Christian community.
  4. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self reflects a self-created identity rather than identity in Christ.
  5. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self doesn’t match their offline self. 
  6. Use social networking to enhance real world relationship not to replace them. 
  7. Don’t let children have unsupervised internet access or accept as online friends people you don’t know offline. 
  8. Set limits to the time you spend online and ask someone to hold you accountable to these.
  9. Set aside a day a week as a technology “Sabbath” or “fast”. 
  10. Avoid alerts (emails, tweets, texts and so on) that interrupt other activities especially reading, praying, worshiping and relating.
  11. Ban mobiles from the meal table and the bedroom. 
  12. Look for opportunities to replace disembodied (online or phone) communication with embodied (face-to-face) communication. 

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