Saturday, August 31, 2013
Making A Name
I love working on sermons that speak to the state of my own heart. I preached this past Sunday on the Tower of Babel and the names we make for ourselves. You can listen to the message here if you are interested.
But here I want to share how I have been wrestling with this very message. And it all comes back to Facebook. See, I went off Facebook back in March, and I have set various dates as to when I plan to sign back into my account and rejoin the FB world. But I keep moving the target back. My latest date is tomorrow, September 1...and I must confess I am still ambivalent.
See, there are good reasons to go back to Facebook. It allows my family and friends to see Immy and all that she is up to. I know many of them appreciate feeling connected to her and enjoy seeing her grow. It also allows me to do the same with my friends and family spread all over the world. I love knowing what people are up to, seeing their pictures, and the ease of feeling connected.
But there is one of the problems...Facebook is less about being connected, and more about feeling connected - at least for the most part. It gives me a glimpse into the lives of others, but I don't get the real thing. I miss them less because I see them, but they are still absent from my daily life. And trying to feel so connected to so many people leaves me feeling taxed to be present with those who are actually part of my day to day life.
So, part of my hesitation of signing back into Facebook is that it can feel like a burden. That I am supposed to be up to date with everyone I have ever known, and feel connected enough that they are still as present to me as my neighbor. But they aren't - and it is hard to be intentional with that many people over a distance. I have found that I am more present with people here now that I am not also maintaining long distance relationships.
With that, it might seem to make sense to stay away from Facebook. But I do value staying connected, and I realize that I am able to bring my own expectations and habits to my FB activity. There is a deeper anxiety that makes me want to rush back to Facebook. And it is that I will fade into oblivion if I don't have a presence there. I mean, will anyone even read this blog entry if I don't publicly post it? And will anyone know that I gave a really fun sermon this past week? And who will know that I am starting a 21 day sugar detox tomorrow?
The underlying fear in all of this: will anyone notice me if I don't work to be noticed.
And that my friends is the fear from which I build my towers [listen to the sermon to get the reference]. I am afraid I don't really matter - so I work hard to feel like I matter. And what if I don't matter now that I am not on Facebook? And what if everyone forgets about me? Am I worth more than my witty status updates, fun photos, or thoughtful blog posts?
And of course part of this time away from the on-line world has been to establish a different answer to those questions. Before I had been operating as if my life depended on the amount of attention I got from my online connections. I measured my worth on how people responded to me. This is not a stable foundation from which to build one's sense fo self-worth. Because there is constant fear that my carefully constructed towers may topple at any minute.
So, I have been spending this interim trying to build off a firmer foundation. One that begins with a God of love, who created me in love, and who can't help but consider me through the lens of love. I have been meditating on three phrases:
Be still, and know that I am God.
God is love, do not be afraid.
If God is for me, then who can be against me.
This is the foundation I want to build my life upon. And the truth is that from this foundation I can engage just about anything - even Facebook - from a place of security outside of how people respond to me [or don't respond to me]. See, the name God gives me is my true name - so if He names me accepted, loved, and secure - then I don't need to build in fear. I can learn how to engage in freedom...and that is my desire.
So, I don't want to come back to Facebook in fear - and I don't want to stay away out of fear. I want whatever choice I make to be done from the secure foundation that I already matter because I matter to God.
I don't know if I will be back on FB starting tomorrow. I think I am leaning against it at this point, as it feels like it might add clutter to my life when things are just about to kick into high gear. But whether I sign in tomorrow or not - when I do sign in I want it to be under the name I am learning to receive from God, rather than the name I keep trying to make for myself.