My Lent Plans for 2016

Here I am, typing this on my laptop in Starbucks and already thinking about Lent. If I’m not mistaken, Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday, which occurs during Mardi Gras.

My plan as always is to fast from social media during this time. As much as I’d like to use the extra time to be all productive and stuff, my main goal during this season is to reboot my brain and get my head right again.

Not that I’m in a bad place. I just think that it’s easy to let social media affect how you perceive yourself and others, and stepping away from it all can be a good way to remind yourself that life is more than status updates, Instagram posts, and how many likes and/or comments you get.

I will still be writing these blogs, so fret not. They will still show up on all my social media outlets, as usual.

Ideally, I can spend way less time with my head buried in my phone. I can look up and see blue skies and sunsets and other people (most likely with their heads buried in their phones and tablets).

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. It’s also what happens when you’re checking your Facebook feed or updating your Twitter account. I doubt very seriously that you’ll get to the end of your life and regret all those hilarious memes you didn’t share or all the clever status updates you didn’t write.

You will regret not spending more actual real time with real people in face-to-face conversations about real-life situations.

You will regret not looking up from your social media to see all that life that’s passing you by.

So all that to say that starting Ash Wednesday, I will be (mostly) off the grid until after Easter Sunday. See you all then.

 

Raise Your Hand: A Blog About Relationships

Ok. Informal survey. See if any of these scenarios fit you. Here goes.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been interested in someone and gone to the place where he or she works or hangs out in the hopes of “accidentally” running into him or her? And technically, that’s not stalking. It’s only stalking when you know for sure that person will be there.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever posted something on facebook in hopes that a certain someone would read it. Because that always works. Not. Of course, I’ve NEVER done anything REMOTELY like that. I’ve NEVER found out the hard way how completely futile that is.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever judged the health of a relationship based on how many times the other person likes or comments on your statuses and posts on facebook. Yeah, I seem kinda hung up on the whole facebook thing, but play along with me. Maybe you see the absence of response to your posts and texts as a lack of interest on the other’s part, or even an indicator that that person is upset with you or doesn’t like you. Again, I can say that I’ve never . . . . ok, I’ve been there, done that, thrown the pity party. Now I take pills and I do much better.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever obsessed over the next time you might see that certain someone and rehearsed in your mind what you would say to them. You even got the script down perfect. The only problem is that real life never follows those rehearsed scenarios and real people tend not to want to stick to your script.

What little I know about relationships is this: there are no perfect relationships because there are no perfect people. You can’t make any one person your life or build your future on the hopes of a relationship. To put another person on that kind of pedestal is to put that person in the place of God and put a burden on them that they were never meant to bear.

So I’ve learned to trust God. And pray a lot. And take deep breaths. And not freak out. The other person most likely is just as scared and intimidated and nervous and self-conscious as you are. They just have different ways of showing (or hiding) those things.

By the way, I bet you feel pretty silly sitting in front of your computer all by yourself with your hand raised in the air. You can put it down now.

The Wild, Wacky, (Sometimes) Wonderful World of Facebook

facebook-funny

I’m sure I’ve posted about this topic before, but I forgot what I said, so this may or may not be a repeat.

I’m a fan of facebook. I mean, where else can you see updates of what your friends are doing and where they’re hanging out. You even get to see pictures of their kids, their grandkids, their pets, their cars, their houses, what they ate for breakfast, etc.

Yet, I also know that facebook can be a very lonely place. Kinda like the proverbial “being alone in a crowd.”

If you’re looking to facebook for affirmation, you’re bound to be mightily disappointed. Who hasn’t posted a status update and almost heard the crickets chirping? Who hasn’t poured their heart out and gotten no response? It’s easy to feel ignored on facebook.

Possibly you’ve had a friend or two that seemed to be the ones who consistently commented on and liked your posts, but have seemingly gone silent on you, making you wonder if you’ve done something to offend them.

As I’ve learned, lots of people might read your posts without commenting or even liking. That won’t show up in the oh-so-important little part at the top that tells you how many friend requests, messages, and notifications you have. And when someone doesn’t comment on or like your posts, it just means they’ve got lives to live and their own mess to deal with. That’s all.

On a side note, if you’re looking to people for affirmation, whatever they give you will never be enough. You might think that you’d be fine if people would only just “like” your posts. But when that happens, the next natural step is wishing that people would make comments on those posts. It’s never enough, whether on facebook or twitter or in real life.

always-happen-with-me

I personally have had to step back and take a break from facebook when I found myself upset that a friend of mine responded to everyone else’s comments on their post but mine. Yeah, it got that crazy. And yes, they do make pills for that.

My facebook philosophy is this: I gotta be real, honest, transparent, and me. It may not be popular (’cause I know deep down that I’m not very popular– it takes special people to appreciate my brand of weirdness). I also make an effort to be encouraging and positive and stay away from political stuff (who has ever changed their politics due to something they read on facebook, anyway?)

I will sometimes go through and comment on my friends’ status updates and “like” what they post because I know that sometimes you need visual affirmation that someone out there knows where you are and what you’re going through. But that’s just me. I don’t expect that from anybody else anymore.

So have fun posting pictures of your dog in tuxedo and of the pasta you ate last night. But keep it in perspective. The only true affirmation you need comes from God, and he’s already given it to you. He loves and accepts you just as you are and not as you should be.

Something Good to Remember on a Monday

Matthew 5:1 says, “Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.”

I’ve read past that a thousand or more times. I’ve rushed past those words to get to the Sermon on the Mount, the good stuff. But I think I’ve done myself a disservice by not paying attention to this verse, particularly the first three words: “Seeing the crowds.”

Did you catch that? He saw the people who came to see him. He didn’t see bodies. He saw faces lined with pain. He saw heartaches and anxieties and unrest. He saw people just trying to get through the day.

Just as he sees you and he sees me.

Do you ever feel unnoticed? Do you ever post on facebook and no one responds? Do you ever comment on someone else’s post and he or she responds to everyone else but you?

Do you often feel invisible in a crowd? Has the thought ever crossed your mind that no one would miss you if you were suddenly not there? Or like George Bailey, do you think the world would be better off if you’d never been born?

You may not feel like anyone knows you or the secret shame and pain you carry. Jesus does.

You may think that you don’t matter to anyone. You matter to Jesus.

You are not alone. You have an advocate, someone who is on your side, who fights for you, who roots for you, who won’t abandon you in the dark or in the storms. His name is Jesus.

I didn’t come up with this, but it’s still true: if you had been the only one lost and in need of a Savior, Jesus still would have gone through every bit of the cross just for you. He loves you that much.

If your Monday’s been awesome, that’s great. God rejoices with you. But if your Monday was horrible and couldn’t end soon enough, this promise still holds true.

This is from a ragamuffin who needs daily reminders of the goodness of God as much as anyone else. God is faithful, even when it seems he is absent. He is good, always.