I’ve been staring at this screen for the past couple of weeks, coming and going as I’ve struggled with what to write. I’ve started and stopped, deleted and started over. I stepped back a bit and felt no pressure to write or post, as I tend to do sometimes, either to reflect or just to invest elsewhere. We’ve been busy traveling and doing all the Summer things. But to be honest, I just didn’t know what to say. I knew there was something pressing on my heart and mind, it just wouldn’t come. And so I waited.
I’ve been wrestling with social media, its place in my life and my place in it. The point of it all. I’ve thought about deleting accounts and signing off this blog and putting more of my attention on the life that is tangible and right in front of me……
I don’t feel released from this. And trust me, I’ve tried to be. So many times. It would make life so much simpler. Sharing life on a public forum can feel a bit pointless at times. What am I(or we) doing? We share things that make us feel good about ourselves, and often, make others feel worse about themselves in the process. Depression and loneliness are skyrocketing as we replace tangible relationships with virtual ones. We glorify ourselves(please know I am speaking to myself, because I take part in all of this every single day) and so often feel the freedom to say things through our computer screens that we would never say in person.
Those who speak out or who have differing opinions get berated verbally if someone chooses to disagree. I wrote an article that was published on Women’s Running a couple of years back. Because a few people did not get my humor, like at all, they said some horribly ugly things, without even knowing me. How could people be so cruel? And about a stupid article that was just intended to be funny? It is beyond me. And it was so incredibly pointless. If they reacted this way over something pointless and funny, how might they react if I really share something meaningful? And so I retreated to keeping things light and peaceful, but that wasn’t enough.
I’ve seen a theme in our culture via online platforms and in real life. In schools and churches and gyms and neighborhoods. I have become increasingly more aware of it lately, especially as I reflect on how I have been sucked into it and how I might be taking part in it myself. Snobbery and exclusivity leave people in their wake feeling unwanted and unloved. We say and do without any thought of the consequences. We can be cruel and hateful and mean. And it’s a crime. It is NOT who we are called to be. It’s not love or grace or anything good that Jesus spoke of. It’s not who He told us to be. Wether it is in person or online. I can do better. We can do better.
And yet, it’s not all bad. In fact, I’ve “met” via social media platforms some of the most AMAZING people doing some of the most amazing things. Ministries and organizations, platforms calling awareness to various causes, rockstar moms and stellar athletes. All doing their thing and serving their purposes. And it gives me chills. To see people using their gifts is awesome. Had it not been for this virtual world we now find ourselves in, I may have never known them or their ministries or ambitions. And we need to support each other in it. Celebrate each other. So you don’t dress like her, who cares. So you don’t run every day, big flippin deal. So you don’t like to get your nails done or read or write or draw or cook, so what! Find your gifts and live them out with soaring confidence. Because that’s what we’re called to do.
So please don’t confuse my wrestling with negativity toward what has been an incredibly rewarding time in my life and towards something that I do absolutely see value and purpose in. This blog is worth so much to me, and not from a monetary perspective. In fact, I make nothing by doing this. How’s that for real. I see so much value in these social platforms, but I think wrestling is good, because it brings about change. And I needed some change.
So how do we use it for good? How do we avoid the selfie mentality(coming from someone who has taken a few selfies) and develop real influence? How much self am I serving through this blog or through Instagram or Facebook or any other social media outlet?
These are the things I have been thinking through for most of the Summer. And it’s kept me quiet. It’s humbled me and brought me to my knees.
“People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant” ~Helen Keller
But I missed writing. I missed sharing.
“The dedicated life is worth living. You must give with your whole heart” ~Annie Dillard
It’s so easy to feel discouraged. To feel lost or to feel as though you don’t matter in this great big world. But you do. What you do and who you are matter.
“I believe in the me God made and in the me God can make. I believe he made me on purpose and didn’t make any mistakes when it came to my creation. I believe he is doing a good work in me, and in you. And that though I am flawed, God is loving me and refining me and reminding me that God in me is where I can place my trust. And that is the place where I find my courage.”
― Annie F. Downs
As I’ve prayed and wrestled through some of these questions this Summer, I kept coming up empty. I’ve written about 40 different titles to this blog, and then, on Sunday morning, it was as clear as day….
To Be A Voice
I’m here, on this blog, on Instagram, on Facebook, to be a voice. I’m an ambassador. Not for the sport of running, not for myself, not for my name or brand or as a trainer. Not to make much of my pace or distance or awards or accolades or writing ability(or lack thereof). Not to become famous or make a fortune or solve all the worlds problems or gain hundreds of thousands of followers. Not to boast.
Not to be the first, but to be the last.
The essence of it all is to be a voice for truth, my truth. What in the world is the point of any of this if we can not share our truth? My sweet friend Katie shared her truth this morning on Facebook with beautiful words about the events from Charlottesville. And it confirmed this for me. We are here to be a voice. To speak up.
I want to be a voice for truth and peace. For unity and oneness. For grace and acceptance and love. Does it mean I will agree with everything you say or post? No. Does it mean you will agree with everything I say or post? Nope. But to make this worthy of my time, I have to know I am doing something MORE than just showing you how far I ran or a selfie of my freshest hair cut(which you still may get from time to time because well, #haircutsrule).
“Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others” ~Helen Keller
For my heart and mind to engage and to keep coming back day after day, I have to know that sharing here has more than just earthly value. It must have an eternal purpose. I want to combat the hate and the materialism and the exclusivity of our culture, to do my very best to offer open arms of acceptance and love and to foster an open dialogue about the messiest parts of life. Because life is messy friends.
“We may have found a cure for most evils; but we have found no remedy for the worst of them all, the apathy of human beings” ~Helen Keller
I have to know I am sharing my truth. That I am loving you well. That I am encouraging you and lifting you up. That I’m doing this in real life, on every road and turn that God allows for me. From my husband to the lady in the check out line at Target with the screaming toddler(because hello, that has been me). To take away eyes of judgment and criticism and replace them with eyes of compassion and grace.
Christ is my anchor, and it is through Him and for Him and Him alone that I bare my soul. Even in the running and the fitness. Even in the vacation pictures or the new haircuts. He is the center of that, for He created the vessel which I use to do those things I love so much. But it’s a choice. We can choose to be apathetic, to sit on the sidelines or hide out in our small circles, or, we can choose to step out. To be unafraid to stand for what we believe in, to make sacrifices of our time(hello, one of my biggest struggles) in order to serve others, to step out of bed each morning with humble gratitude that we are but nothing in light of the Savior we follow and that our lives are but a breath in light of eternity.
It is so ok to blast a cute picture of our puppy out into the masses or for you to post that amazing PR. I’ll probably keep on doing those things, but I needed a fresh reminder of why I’m here. For ME, it had to be brought back to a center. To a purpose. It all had to be wrapped up in the fact that I am passionate about sharing here because I want to share things that actually matter. Even if it makes me, or us, uncomfortable. Even if it’s messy. Because this is my space, and I choose to make it worth something. I choose to be a voice.
“And the earth under your feet, the rain over your face upturned, the stars spinning all around you in the brazen glory: this is for you, you, you. These are for you-gifts-these are for you-grace-these are for you-God, so count the ways He loves, a thousand, more, never stop, that when you wake in the morning you can’t help turn humbly to the east, unfold your hand to the heavens, and though you tremble and though you wonder, though the world is ugly, it is beautiful, and you can slow and you can trust and you can receive each moment as grace.”