Lately, I've seen quite a few posts and videos on the issues social media imposes on our lives--threatening our sense of community and belonging and sometimes leading us into a hole of comparisons, loneliness, even depression. One such video (done really well, I might add), is this one >> on the Innovation of Loneliness. It's 4 minutes and worth every second.
I always pay attention, because it's something I'm passionate about. I value the role of technology in making people seem closer--information and life updates from around the world with no time delay. But I also wonder at how this appearance can be tricking people into thinking it's genuine connection, when it's not.
So, I've said it before, unplugging is one solution. Taking fasts from the internet and social media over Sabbath, or the occasional week or full weekend shutting down to refocus on life. That in-and-out motion of our breath that technology tries to impose on.
But unplugging isn't so much a solution, as it is a necessary flow in the cycle. We log on, we log off. One is just as necessary as the other.
The real solution to the loneliness hole social media has innovated is found in each other--in community. Reaching out in real life to hear our friend's voice, to gift them with handwritten words, to sit across from each other on the sofa or share a coffee together at a local shop as we experience life. As we articulate in words those feelings that a computer can't portray; those struggles and joys that an emoticon could never do justice.
The living so deep that there's only one person it can give glory to: God, the Giver of Life.
Because technology tries to steal the glory--or the devil through technology does. He turns technology into an idol, giving Mark Zukerberg or Steve Jobs the praise for where we are today and how quickly we can spread ideas and information.
But the truth always wins. The glorious victory always comes in Jesus.
It happens when we look each other in the eye.
When we smile and laugh or empathize and cry... together.
When we scribble out a handwritten note.
When we get involved in church or in our community,
Helping each other in the flesh.
When we Skype with a family member we miss,
Call a friend who needs a word of encouragement.
When we meet in our homes and share a meal,
Or share a conversation where body language proves the intent
And expressions portray approval more than an "LOL" ever could.
Sometimes, technology will be involved. But it will never be the community, it will instead be a tool to use in building community.
A Facebook message thread can be used to keep three high school friends in touch more than 10 years later--but it can't fly you 900 miles to be together again.
A text message can initiate or confirm an invitation for coffee--but it can't provide the coffee or the conversation.
A Tweet can encourage in someone's doubt, or offer a comic relief in a stressful day--but it can't be there to make sure the other person will get through.
So let us not forget what, or rather who, is behind it. Let us not come to think that Twitter or Facebook or the iPhone is our friend. May we always remember each of those interactions represents a person. A flesh and blood, fading away, here today, gone tomorrow, but we hope to see in Heaven person.
A person that needs a friend--a conversation--a hug--an invitation--a word of encouragement--a listening ear--the gift of friendship and salvation and belonging--more than he needs a "like" on his status update and more than she needs a "cute" in reply to her photo.
What will you do to be that for someone today?
Three weeks ago, I sent out a survey asking all of you thoughtful, smart people what I should create next. And your answers have got me partway through something that I'm working to have ready to send you all the end of this month.
So, do you want to know what it is?!
First, you want to know the consensus, don't you? Here it is...
Choose My Next Product - Survey Results
1. P R O D U C T S : Which type of product would you be most interested in receiving?
36% study guide/work book | 32% e-zine | 21% e-booklet | 11% e-book
Hmmm... 36% and 32% seem awfully close. Anyone see a hybrid between those two coming? By the way, these were my top two picks too. I didn't think anyone would be interested in a study guide, but I am so excited to see this was a popular vote!
2. T O P I C S : Order the topics I write on, #1 being what you would most like to learn more about.
1 simplifying life and home | 2 letting our lights shine | 3 epic beginnings | 4 turning bad days into good
Definitely have something in mind for each these, and anxious to share them over the next several months.
3. I D E A S : Order the following ideas, #1 being the product idea that appeals to you most.
1 study guide/workbook challenge on letting our lights shine | 2 e-zine on simplifying various areas of life
Again, these two have sort of meshed together into a hybrid that I am loving working on.
4. F R E E B I E : What would you most enjoy receiving as a thank you for signing up to my newsletter?
39% study guide/workbook expounding on focus of blog through Bible study and challenges
35% printable word art that could be displayed that says something like "live simply with purpose where you are"
What about a study guide/workbook, laid out a little more like an e-zine with a free printable word art thrown in?
5. P R I C I N G : Whatever I create, I will make available to my e-mail subscribers for free. After that, it will be available online at a small price for anyone who missed it or is not a subscriber.What is the highest price range you would be willing to spend on a carefully written and designed product from me?
54% $5-$10 | 29% $1-$5
I am so enthusiastic about sharing these with you guys for free. Then, I will make the growing library of products available for purchase likely in the $1-$5 range. Happy to see half of you would be willing to spend more ;)
6. R E S P O N S E S : Any remaining thoughts, questions or ideas on this topic? I appreciate your feedback, and look forward to creating something with you in mind!
Thanks for including readers in on this type of feedback.
This is by far the most fun survey I've ever been a part of. Getting to ask you what I could create for you, and hearing all of your engaged responses, was so insightful. Thank you so much!
My Next Product - A Sneak Peek
So, in case you missed my responses throughout this post, I have created a hybrid product combining some of the top picks.
This blog's (or rather, my) motto has become to Live Simply with Purpose Where You Are.
I am putting together a Bible study guide that will dive into each of the three topics that statement represents (simplicity, intentionality, contentment). There will be Bible texts to read alone or with a group, questions to think about or discuss, and small action items to apply what you learn.
It will be laid out a little more like an e-zine with pictures and design to make it a fun, pretty, and easy read.
Plus, there will be a bonus: a Live Simply word art for you to print and display at your desk or in your home, and an overlay you can add to your own photos (like I did in the one above).
I can't wait to share it with you!
Be sure and sign up for my e-newsletter, because that's the only way you'll get this and other of my future products for free! (If you're curious, see a previous e-mail >> here.)
S i g n - u p:
Now, I gotta get back to work so this thing is ready for you in the next couple weeks!
This morning I enjoyed cuddling a sweet little newborn as I chatted with his momma. I observe his cute little button nose and tiny little body that rests perfectly in my own petite arms. At some point she mentions how much he's grown in his short two weeks of life. How time already seems to be going too fast. Of course I can relate as my own "little" guy runs all around her living room unable to keep his voice down.
Then, later this afternoon, I pick my two-year-old up from his slumber so we can get his sister from school. He raises his arms, pulls his chin into his neck and scrunches up his face the way he used to as a much smaller infant. His over-sized newborn lips have already grown ten times in size, his large head miraculously growing even larger, and his long lashes... Seriously, is it even fair for a boy to be so blessed with such flowing eye lashes?
In a second, I take in all these pieces as memories of my "tiny" newborn come to mind. His large head nuzzles into my small shoulder, and my heart cries as I hold him close, "Don't you dare grow any more! Don't even think about becoming a six-foot tall man that can't rest his head on my shoulder when I pick him up. You've grown too much already. This is enough."
And that's not even mentioning that teeny baby girl in the photo above! How she's reading and losing teeth and being proposed to by boys in her kindergarten class. Don't even get me started on how I wish I could be home with her again as a two-year-old, her spiral blonde curls bouncing as she dances around the living room to "See, See My Playmate."
And then it makes sense.
All those times moms would say, "Enjoy this. It goes too fast!" All those times they'd look on and see and think about their own once-teeny-babes who are now probably six-feet tall men who never call home.
But, in all honesty, I wanted to punch them in the neck as I wondered what exactly it was they wanted me to "enjoy" in this moment. Is it the tantrums? Or the incessant "mommying" or his hitting and biting issues? Is it her excessive boredom and how I'm not enough for her? Is it waking up every three hours for the first TWELVE months of his life and feeling completely and utterly exhausted? Because in the moment, those are the things that consumed my mommy experience.
They'd say these things and couldn't possibly understand how their words destroyed me. And I just wanted to respond, "I'm sure you miss this time. But please remember it's not as great in the moment as you're remembering it." Because their attempt at encouragement to "enjoy," was my guilt for not always being able to. For not always loving the potty training and the mess and the stress and sleeplessness that comes with these imperfect, and altogether precious beings.
And this is just the beginning of mommy evolution--how moms evolve from chaos to amnesia where everything in their own chaotic past is now simply bliss.
There's also another side. Because they're not the only ones I've wanted to punch in the neck. I've also wanted to punch previous me (and others like her) in the neck, too. The me who thought that a hitting/head-butting child was simply a product of bad parenting. The me who judged parents who gave in. The me who thought she knew it all before even having kids.
Just like moms evolve from chaos to amnesia, sometimes we simply have blinders to other's chaos. We don't see their struggles or understand their situation. We impose on them how we'd handle it without even really knowing how exactly we would manage given the circumstances.
Both of these perspectives are teaching me a lot about parenting. About loving and encouraging other parents while feeling loved and encouraged myself.
Here are just a few things I'm learning:
1 | All children are born bad.
1b | And it's not because we're bad parents.
Seriously, this is a given. We're human and we're all born with a sinful nature. Every baby is prone to selfishness, tantrums, demanding their own way, even violence. So before we see a kid hit and assume he does so because his parents are obviously raising him to be a mean child, let's offer each other a little grace, shall we? Just because our children behave badly doesn't always mean we're bad parents.
I'm breathing easier already, how about you?
2 | All children are capable of good.
Aggressive little boys are capable of loving and sharing and behaving nicely. Selfish little girls are capable of saying nice things and being good friends. So lets look for the good in our own kids and others', shall we? I don't want my child written off because of some bad behavior, so let's not write others off either. Sound good? It does to me.
3 | Raising kids has good and bad moments.
There has been plenty of chaos in our home since we had kids--messes and struggles and discipline and exhaustion. And, there has been plenty of blessings in our home since kids, too--love and joy and laughter and sweet moments. Can we be understanding of other's bad moments, while looking for our own good? If I spend my time looking for the good in this season instead of telling others how good they have it in their season, won't I be better off?
And, let's face it, they'll be better off too, because nobody magically appreciates the chaos by someone else demanding that we "enjoy it!"
4 | Good enough wins.
After failing many times over at this parenting thing, I'm starting to realize that as long as you're in it and you're committed, good enough wins. Stop expecting perfection from yourself or others. We're all in this parenting thing, doing the best we can with what we're given. And your good enough might look different than mine. So, how about instead of shouting judgments to each other, let's instead say, "Hey, I see what you're doing over there, and you're doing a good job. Keep it up. And let me know if you'd like some help."
Because, it's true. I see what you're doing, and you're doing an awesome job. Keep it up. And if you need some help--babysitting so you can have a date night or me time, or a play date so you can have another parent to chat with--it's okay to ask.
There's more I'm learning, but maybe those lessons are more personal to me just as you have some that are more personal to you.
Mostly, what I'm meaning to say is: I'm sorry, moms who meant well. You don't deserve to be punched in the neck, and I'm sorry I ever felt that way. It was more about sleep deprivation than it was about you.
Now that we understand each other, can we be friends? Because I'll need your support when my children grow taller than me and don't call home.
linked up: things i can't say // casey leigh