Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Outside of the Box

My husband and my daughter both are unassuming and modest. They rarely speak of their accomplishments and they have a difficult time accepting praise. He takes no part in social media. She uses her accounts to keep up with her friends instead of posting things herself.

I could learn much from them.

Instead, I wrestle with the overwhelming temptation to post everything I'm doing - the music I'm listening to, the books I'm reading, the places I'm going. I find myself drawn to the idea that people I'm acquainted with are actually interested in the minutiae of my life, the pithy things I post. When I first began blogging nine years ago, I was often preoccupied with the question of whether an event or conversation was blog-worthy. Today, social media platforms have no room for that question. Everything is worthy of social media, thereby diminishing any true value it may have.

I've been struggling with this irony moreso than usual lately. Or maybe it's just that I've finally become aware of the struggle. For instance, I find myself glossing over a thing of beauty because I'm wondering how best to photograph it for social media. With my phone. I don't marvel at it, because I'm too busy thinking about the witty caption I'll give it. I've been trying to translate the moments of my life into pixels.

Charles Spurgeon said, It is sweet to give or do simply to please Him, without respect to the public eye. The temptation to be recognized for the things we do is nothing new, but I imagine its pull is much stronger in the current age. Technology keeps giving us new ways to chronicle our lives and share them with virtual strangers (pun intended). As we do, we move further away from genuine communication and relationship. A keyboard is an excellent tool for crafting a persona and telling others what they want to hear. The affirmation we crave is readily available. If we don't like what someone has to say, we make it disappear with a click. It's more difficult to avoid hard questions and truths coming from a friend who's looking right into your eyes.

An acquaintence in college had a theory that life was about boxes. We sleep on a box, we drive a box, we're buried in a box. At the time, it sounded like some abstract psychobabble. Twenty-five years later, this theory has become a startling reality. Increasingly, we are cramming the entirety of our lives into boxes we put in our laps or hold in our hands. We are substituting flesh and blood for microchips and megabytes.

I'm tired of reducing my life to filtered photographs and short quips. I'm tired of wondering how people will react to an article or a quote I share. I'm tired of the inevitable quid pro quo of social media. I'm tired of worrying that I'm not representing myself accurately or that I've inadvertently offended someone. I want to be content to give and do for no other reason than to please God, without the temptation of self-promotion.

I want to live and love in ways that are far too big to fit into a box.

Monday, June 15, 2015

On Suffering and Summer Reading

I tell you again, if there be any pathway in which there be not fire, tremble, but if your lot be hard, thank God for it. If your sufferings be great, bless the Lord for them, and if the difficulties in your pathway be many, surmount them by faith, but let them not cast you down. 
- Charles Spurgeon

It seems that I can't get away from suffering. Lately it's been a recurring theme in my reading and listening, and not by my own design. Which makes me wonder if the Lord is preparing me for something. Or maybe He's preparing me to minister to others. Either way, I haven't been able to ignore this providence.

Join me at Out of the Ordinary to read the rest...