Facebook is a Wonder – Spit Take | God Talk: Nazareth
I must be brief tonight, as I need to get up early for church tomorrow, and brevity has never been my strong suit. But, as I begin this new year, with hopefully some new tuning in to God, the next message that surfaced in my mind was go back to the beginning. And today, of all days, I suppose is a good time for that. God’s sorta funny how He works those things out. Today was my 10 year anniversary on Facebook.
It would be another three years before I started writing in earnest for God on Facebook. Prior to that, I used the platform for what I had originally joined to do, advertising my political BlogTalkRadio show, The Pursuit of Happiness: It’s All Your Fault. Back on January 5, 2009, I discovered this new thing, and in many ways it changed my life. Then again, in many ways it has become the bane of my, and many others, existence.
Back in 2011 I began writing the God Talk series on Facebook, with a note entitled “Facebook Is a Wonder.” The Lord led me to pick up a copy of the book those notes eventually turned into the other day. That title struck me today, as He urged me to write about going back to the beginning. Tonight I re-read that first entry in God Talk: The Beginning and smiled. I remember those days. I remember the excitement of looking for God in every day, to share what He was doing in my life. And I remember the joy of sharing that beyond my small circle of people I knew in person at the time.
I remember too the rough road that came during that time I was writing. I remember the sickness and fear Corey was struggling with, that he finally began to share with those he was friends with on the internet. I remember the prayer requests that used to stop my as I scrolled, tugging my heart, stopping my day to talk to God. I remember news from friends that brought me to tears of joy, and tears of deepest sorrow. I remember the encouragement. I remember the milestones and the family connections, and old friends I hadn’t seen in years. It truly was a wonder.
The Drift Away
Somewhere along the way, I stopped doing the radio show. I stopped writing political blogs. I focused more and more on God, and as I noted yesterday, I stopped writing notes to share. As 2012 swung into full gear, the elections drove a lot of angst among the populace. There was divisions in the Tea Party movement that started then, and grew afterward. By 2015, there were stark divisions and rampant anger and outrage among those on my Facebook friends list. This was not among the liberal and conservatives, as in truth, most of my friends tended toward either conservatism or a sort of political agnosticism. This was among those who had been my comrades in arms as the Tea Party grew and exploded and propelled changes in 2010 and 2012 in the House and Senate.
Those divisions grew corrosive. I started seeing more and more people joining in the same kind of behavior they decried on the other side of the political aisle. I started seeing more vitriol. I started seeing more of an attitude of burn it all down. I started seeing more hatred based on agreement or disagreement on political issues, all issues, including small stuff that had nothing actually to do with policy. Name calling, demeaning, dismissing all became common place.
Worst of all, much of it was coming from the many folks on my list who claimed not only conservatism, but also Christianity. In one post there would be Bible verses and Scripture, and admonitions to be more Christ-like. In the next post would be denigrating words about mutual friends, political allies, political foes. By 2016 my heart was heavy with so many things that Facebook really seemed like more effort than it was worth.
I stayed through those years because by then I had started a new blog. I still used the platform for promotion, though with no consistency. I used it to communicate with my kids, who by then had moved off on their own far away. I used it to communicate with groups at church. I used it to keep in touch with friends. And I used it to play games.
I grew listless, and would scroll my feed mindlessly. Frustrated with the memes that people posted as though they were Gospel, I was still unable to make myself totally disconnect. Sometimes I struggled to even limit my time. I’d get going on a game and look up several hours past my bedtime and realize I’d been playing for a couple hours. Now and then, I’d read an article, or engage a conversation. But, more often than not, the articles left me feeling no better informed, and the conversations left me feeling like I had been talking into a hurricane of noise.
Facebook Is Still A Wonder
I realized these last few days though that Facebook is still the wonder that it was back in 2009 when I joined, and back in 2011 when I wrote that first piece about it. Sure, we’ve flooded it with a lot more angst than it used to have. We’ve selected our echo chambers, filled out our talking points, religious and political, and drawn our battle lines. But, it’s full of humans. That was bound to happen. We’re sinful creatures, and that kind of thing is what humans do.
But, as I reminded myself in reading that long ago piece, this is a tool God gave us, to share the Gospel, to spread His love, to connect in ways we could never have dreamed of 50 years ago. There’s stuff out there that He’d probably rather wasn’t. But, there always is, and that doesn’t mean we give up the field. And He still uses it.
Facebook started a new thing several years ago. They started showing you memories each day that would show up at the top of your feed. I found that irritating at first, then kinda nice. The last several years, more often than not, my memories consist of prayers, at least when they don’t consist of pictures of my grandkids. They consist of the prayers I used to pray back when I used to write for God in earnest. They consist of the prayers I kept praying, even after I stopped writing for God.
Those prayers remind me who I was … And who I want to be in Christ. And how I got there. By praying trembling, raw, knock me down to my knees and make me who You want, Father, kind of prayers. For that alone, I am grateful I made it to my 10 year anniversary. It’s time to start praying those kind of prayers again, with a heart expecting to be moved, changed, refined.
What epiphany have you had coming into our celebration of the Epiphany? How is God reminding you who you are, and who He calls you to be? Have you wandered? Has He called you home? No matter where you are in your journey, share your stories, if not here then somewhere, so others can discover their wonder of God once more, or for the first time. Be blessed and be a blessing.