I was recently bothered by a Facebook post, which is in itself a problem because I’m tired of people being bothered by social media in general. But I admit that I am not above the occasional occurrence of succumbing (succumbtion?) to media hype. Sadly.
Regardless of the specifics, I mean you can insert any given hype on any given day and these things would remain the same, I have become keenly aware of certain truths that I am no stranger to, but seem to forget in moments of clickbait weakness…
- We cannot believe everything we read.
Not only do multiple sources report the same story only to propagate the myth, we also know for a fact that not every source has pure motives. We live in America, driven by greed and power, which are often the same thing. If I have the most money, I have the power and vice versa. When a media outlet (and I’m not sure what that even is any more) reports something, I know all too well that it has chosen to do so and its reasons are dubious at best, evil at worst. I also know that there are always multiple sides to every story, and that every name in a story is a real person with a real life and real feelings with a complex back story and a right to be heard. I have to remember that.
- We often assume the worst.
I know why I’m so cynical. I’ve lived life. I’ve met hundreds of shady characters. I’ve seen some pretty awful things, experiencing some personally. On any given day I can check the box for strongly agree with the statement “I hate people.”
But I also love people. I know the tension of good v. evil. I know that good wins and that it actually doesn’t have much to do with individuals and that gives me hope. It makes me remember that the same Spirit who lives in me, changing me for the better and ridding me of the worst parts of me, also is in the world and working on other people too. I have to remember that.
- We get in the way of truth.
Reposting and sharing things that aren’t entirely true only serve to propagate madness. It’s like that childhood game of telephone where a whisper is carried to the end and contains almost entirely ridiculous “information.” Where do we get information from these days any way? No one believes for a second that because something is “in print” that it is true.
And yet, we buy it. We click it. We believe it. And woe to anyone who tries to convince us otherwise. We’re all stocked up on facts, here. Sell your crazy somewhere else, man. I wonder how many of us, myself included, go out of our way to educate ourselves and others on the truth, or even make sure that everyone knows when we were dead wrong? I think we should all spend twice as much time correcting ourselves as we do asserting ourselves.
- We get in the way of love.
It’s been said that love conquers all. And that is true. In the end, Love will win. Game, set, match. I believe it wholeheartedly. But in little ways, we let hate and fear win. Little battles, little wars crop up and the anger and outcries get louder and more rantier to the point where we are too willing to offend and hurt others, not to mention use really bad grammar.
Love does not win the day when I think a little less of someone because of something they did or said. Love does not win the day when I stew on bitterness and hold grudges well into the night, formulating arguments and counter-arguments in my head full of prejudice and hatefulness. Love does not win when I am not willing to admit even the possibility that I am so very wrong or that my own heart is full of deceit and selfish pride. I realize that I just want to be right or justified in my opinion. I realize that I am afraid – afraid I’m wrong or will look foolish, afraid that I’m not as mature as I think I am, afraid that not everyone thinks I’m brilliant or that in fact I’m pretty basic.
Fear is never a good excuse for bad behavior. It’s a common one and an understandable one. But fear turned into a motivator for love is where it’s at. Love casts out fear and puts it in its place. Our fears must find relief in love for others and the hope of acceptance, not isolation and loneliness. Because all our rantings and ravings tend to push us all apart, and Love’s goal is always to bring us together, regardless of opinions, in light of truth.
- We need to do better.
Me first. In this case, I’m being self-centered. I should know better. I have certainly had my share of being scrutinized and having to defend myself. There have been times I absolutely did not deserve the criticism. But there have also been times when I absolutely DID. I didn’t need a better defense. I didn’t need to argue my case better. I didn’t need to be perfect, as if that’s possible.
The only thing I always need more of is humility. I want assurances. Why do we even have social media in the first place, other than to pat each other on the back and create a sense of community – a good thing for sure, but easily devolving into a need to be assured and supported? I am false and full of sin. When left to my own devices, I am going to salvage myself and my pride, and those I love, at the sacrifice and risk of anyone else. I am going to spin the truth to make me look better. I am going to believe my own lies about who I really am. I am going to convince myself that I deserve the best and that I’m entitled to whatever makes me feel good and not afraid.
But there is One who is full of grace, and thanks be to God, I have this assurance – that I am fully known and fully loved, that there is nowhere to hide and He knows me through and through, and still He loves me. And in light of this assurance of pardon, I know that I can live my life loving others well. It’s the only way I can do better, remembering that much is required from those who have been forgiven, who have faced the ugly truth and been given hope and grace in exchange for fear. I can love others better and forgive others all the more readily and easily when I truly see how much has been forgiven me. I have to remember that. With every post I read, with every comment made, I have to remember.
You are loved today. You can love today. Let’s all remember that.