The Gift of With

We know by now that navigating the world of social media can be tricky, yes? But recently I’ve been thinking about it beyond just the realms of simply discontentment from seeing everyone else’s perfect or that need to keep up or fit in or have all of your backgrounds a gleaming white.

I’ve been chewing on the thought that perhaps we like social media so darn much because we choose who we let in. We surround ourselves with only the things we love, the things that are easy, the things that inspire. As I scroll through my personal instagram feed in particular, it’s decorating feeds that hold exactly my same style. It’s healthy living feeds that eat just like I do. It’s outfits of the day that I would always choose to wear. It’s funny humans who make me laugh. Inspiring humans who make me want to be better. Self-deprecating beauties who show off their ‘messy’ living rooms just to be real. Bottom line – my feed is who I want to be in picture form.

Here’s what my feed is not. It’s not needy or annoying. It doesn’t talk too loud or too long. It doesn’t have an embarrassing laugh or smell a little off for lack of showering. My feed does not believe things that are different then what I do. Doesn’t cook food I wouldn’t eat. Doesn’t take up my time or my energy on things that I don’t want to do. My feed never argues, never complains and never disagrees with me. My feed doesn’t require more energy, time or money than I want to give it. Ever.

No wonder it’s easier for us to hang out with our phones then with real people – real people can be annoying and real relationships take work and real moments mean our very real feelings may end up hurt or stretched or any number of other emotions, none of which Instagram feeds that we curate can do.

I’ve been playing the thoughts of Pastor Judy Peterson over and over in my head since I heard them well over a month ago. She’s not on any form of social media, hasn’t written books and doesn’t do podcasts. But she did walk across the United States with one mission – she wanted to stop doing things for God and learn to be with . She contends that it’s really easy to learn how to do christian things and really hard to learn how to be with Christ.

I think it’s something we can get caught up in. Doing all of the things that we think God would have us do. Good things, even. And there’s nothing wrong with it. But so many of us really don’t have an understanding of what it means to be with God. To abide. To be near to Him. Instead we end up being busy for Him.

Pastor Judy walked across the entire United States because she wanted to simply live alongside whomever God placed in her path. She wanted to stop choosing who she surrounded herself with and instead allow God to bring people into her life.

How vastly different from our online lives, no?

When we’re on our devices in the grocery store line up, we don’t have to acknowledge the people around us. People who may be standing a little too close or may be lonely and in need of some conversation. When we have our heads buried in our twitter feeds in the waiting room of an office, we get to hear the one-sided conversations that mesh with our hearts (and if they don’t we can have the most brilliant arguments back in our heads). What it doesn’t offer us are moments to see whom God has placed around us in that waiting room. It doesn’t give us a chance to engage with those who could be our new friends, our next dinner guests, our next person to pray with and for.

Our devices are so easy because they cater to our comforts and personal preferences. The real world is hard because it involves actual opinions and circumstances.

On top of our own preferences for our social media feeds, these sites have created algorithms to feed us more of exactly what we want, think or feel. So if we read a certain headline, it will feed us 5 more articles that say the same thing to make us believe that this must be the right opinion because look at all these articles!

We’re becoming…”more controlled by an algorithm online than a God on high.”

When I consider the life of Jesus and wonder what it would have been like if He had a phone in His tunic that He whipped out every time He had a moment, would he not have missed Zacheus, the woman at the well, the person in need of healing?

Who are we missing? Who is there right beside us that we’re giving no attention to? What sort of moments could we be having? What sort of excitement could there be?

If we’re bored it’s simply because we’ve created a perfect unreal world inside of a gadget and we’re never challenged to be bold, brave and even a bit nervous as we enter into relationship with those who might be different then us. Those who might make us think deeper or challenge our views. Those who might lead us to our knees because we lack the wisdom or the energy or even the desire to give.

It’s hard to be with people. It’s rare that we feel like giving of ourselves. It’s not a natural desire. Our natural desire is to serve ourselves, but it’s a willingness – a yes – that allows us to serve others.

There are people placed right next to us that we don’t see. I think there is a work  to be done amongst these people that God is placing around us. Along with Pastor Judy I say, let’s enter those relationships and see what God has in store for us here. Let’s give people the gift of with.



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