There is no doubt that with all of the advances of technology and applications available to us, we are more connected than ever. The Internet, social media, the strong presence of smart phones, and being constantly connected is changing the way our brains are wired. I'm interested in studying the psychological research on how our connectors and receptors are being impacted by the constant mass connectedness.
When I was growing up, in the days of my youth, our moments belonged to us.
We were present for them. Occasionally we would capture them on film, have them developed, and collect special memories in albums that were only ours. It was a "thing" to have close friends and families take a tour through your family photo albums when they came over for a visit. Looking back at the photos would bring laughter, tears, and always made for great conversation starters. Either way, we still owned them. They rested in our houses, tucked away into bound books, hidden on shelves and in the crannies of our homes.
Other than that, our lives were sacred. Our moments belonged to us. We were able to be fully present, fully focused on LIVING.
If we wanted to see someplace new, we got in the car or hopped on a plane and traveled there.
Now we just search for the corresponding hashtag and view the world through someone else's filtered lens.
As we traveled, we were left only with a good book or the conversation of the person next to us or the sight from the window or our own thoughts only to occupy our minds.
Now we zip through our travels with our eyes glued to glowing screens.
If we saw a beautiful landscape or breathtaking view, we just reveled in the moment and soaked it all in.
Now we are nagged by the constant temptation to snap, gram, and tweet it.
When we were with loved ones, we didn't have little illuminated devices in our hands. We looked into their eyes and had real conversation and laughed full heartedly.
Now we exchange quick glances, before darting our eyes back to the digital world at our fingertips.
We used to seek to entertain ourselves and one another at gatherings and parties with nothing but our developing senses of humor and well thought out stories. All we had was each other and the present moment, it seemed.
This morning, as I was sitting on the floor, slowly sipping my warm, strong, black coffee, beginning to read Pricilla Shirer's "God is Able", and feeding my little one a cookies & cream pop tart, as he carefully lined up his collection of Die-Cast vehicles and small cars.... I was burdened by the temptation to capture the moment. How easy it would be to pick up my phone, open one of my favorite photo sharing apps, and put this quiet moment on blast for the world to see. A glimpse into a quiet, enjoyable moment for anyone who was scrolling through their feed and might care to see it.
They could see the gentle and restorative light of morning, shining in through tall windows in our living room. They could see the "easy way out" and far from gourmet breakfast my toddler was getting all over his mouth and chin. They could see the glisten of super soft, shiny blonde waves that piled up atop his head. They could see the "booboo" of his skinned knee, as over and over my lips met it to make it "all better". They could see the steam arising from my coffee, and the bright red cover of the book I'm "currently reading".
But then it occurred to me... This moment should be mine. Simply living it should feel like ENOUGH.
Why am I burdened with desire to make nearly every moment of my daily life available to the world? It's like if I don't post it SOMEWHERE- snap a pic, or write it down, it didn't even happen.
I've lost the ability to tuck moments away into my heart.
I don't think that everyone struggles with teetering this balance, but I'm absolutely certain that SOMEONE else does.
I'm torn between keeping up with the ways of this modern world and clinging steadfast to the convictions of my heart.
My heart says that I want to take back the sacredness of my moments. I want to reclaim my experiences to be mine. I want to send them up to God in the form of prayers and gratitude, instead of streamlining them out to the digital nations.
The problem is, my brain is already wired this way. It's become instinctive, intuitive, innate. Without even a thought, I share my every aspect of life with the world. I'm overstimulated.
As I venture into this next season of life, I'm praying for revelation about this. I'm praying for a renewed mind. I'm praying for the connectors and receptors in my brain to remember my heart before they move in the way that they've been trained in recent years. I'm praying for the freedom to simply LIVE my life without regard for how this might look on my social media pages. I want to free my mind of the litter that consumes it. I want to reclaim the ability to keep my memories harbored in the corners of my heart.
Explode My Soul
This song has been my refuge all day. It literally does what the title says- explodes my soul - in the best kind of way.
Whisper my name, so only I can hear
Call to my heart, chase away my fears
Stand up in this place, fight for the one you love
Won't you come surround me, so I can rise above
Explode my soul, let these walls come down
All these prison thoughts crumble with the sound
Of my deliverance from my enemies
I stand up beside you, let's watch these giants flee
Let the silence be broken, and the winter be done
Will you come out of your hiding, kiss me sweet warm sun
Let the wind of your spirit blow the dust off my feet
I ran to you broken but now I am complete
Hello Promise Land, we've waited for so long
To see what we've believed in, to sing this Promise Land song
Explode my soul, explode with praise
What he promised is what he gave
What He promised is what He gave
At 5 am this morning, my eyes peered open with the first glimpses of daylight. Wide awake, I felt. God's presence, I sensed. Get up. Go, He said. Write.
At that, I hopped out of bed, ran over to my desk, and got straight to it! KIDDING. I wrestled with God. I tried to reason my way out of it. Oh, but it's so early... maybe I should get some more sleep! Oh, well, ya know, grace upon grace. It's fine. God doesn't REALLY expect anything from me.
And then the fight took root and the wrestling with God grew deeper. Maybe I'm not called anyway. Maybe I'm just a normal, average woman meant to live a mediocre life. Why all the struggling and pushing myself to balance so many things and work toward achieving dreams? Why do I even care? These dreams probably aren't even from God. The world doesn't need another writer. The world doesn't need anything I have to offer.
Several years ago (seriously- like almost a decade), I very clearly received the call from God to write. Literally. Not only was it something on my heart, something teachers and professors and mentors often commended me on my ability to do, and something I loved, but in one moment, at a place of darkness and desperation, I cried out to God, begging for Him to reveal some purpose for my life. Like any logical new Christian would do (I hope that you aren't offended by my multitudes of sarcasm), I opened my Bible to a random page and pointed to a section with my eyes closed. Super biblical, I know. When I opened my eyes, there at the tip of my finger in capital letters was the word, WRITE.
Now, I can't tell you now what page I found that on or what context it was even in anymore- but what I vividly remember was feeling an overwhelming flush of peace and purpose and God, as I read those words on the page. Yes, this is it! The work God has created me to do. I felt it reaffirmed over the years, as random people online and chance encounters with mentors and teachers offered bits of encouragement. When someone dear to my heart had their life taken in an unjust way, my fortune cookie (yes, I'm going there) a few days later said, "A writer's ink lasts longer than a martyrs blood." There it was again. The call.
When I wanted to be on this conference call with Emily Freeman about how to write a book proposal, but it was during the day when I'm usually at work, and God made it snow, my workday was canceled, and I listened in on the call as she spoke about writer's conferences... When I immediately wrapped up the call and went to register for the conference she spoke of... When it was much more costly than I was prepared for, yet somehow my next paycheck had a little more money than I was expecting, just enough to cover the cost... When I still wasn't sure if it was the right purpose for that money, but as I was reading my Bible that day my course led me to the story about the three servants who had been given the same amount and the one who invested it was considered blessed more so than the one who stored it away in savings (Matthew 25)... What did this all mean?
I cannot tell you. What I do want to tell you, though, is that for years I have struggled with writing off (pun intended) the idea that God has divine work for me to do. Since the days of being a small child with dreams in my heart, I have never failed to put myself down and sell myself short. I confused humility with self-degrading. I never believed I was worthy of a calling. Surely I am nothing special. Because of this, I chose to live out my adolescence serving the flesh, indulging in sin, trying to please others, and self destructing anything in me that felt worthy or honorable.
Even today, though my heart holds steadfast to the truth that God has divine plans for each and every one of us, and writing certainly plays some part in mine, I still hear he whispers that tell me my words will never matter... that I'm unworthy of a Kingdom calling, that the presence of God I claim to know really isn't God at all. All lies from the enemy, of course, but whispers I am constantly at war against, nonetheless.
(Ephesians 6:12 "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places")
I don't know why I'm writing this to you now. Maybe it's because when my eyes opened this morning, God had already written this on my heart. My hands needed to write it here. Maybe it's because God knew I was experiencing doubt, growing weary with this goal that had first invigorated me, and that I needed to be reminded of His call on this.
Maybe it's because YOU have something in your heart, some dream or desire to serve the Kingdom of God, and though the Lord has repeatedly revealed to you the work He has for you to do, you too are wrestling with pushing it away. Maybe you think you aren't worthy, or that the world doesn't need what you have to offer, or that you already have too much going on.
I think I'm here to tell you that you DO matter. The world needs exactly what you have to give- God has created you for a time such as this. You are worthy because you think that you aren't- God uses humble servants. And, the work you do for God's purposes is the most important work you will ever do.
On the contrary, Maybe you don't feel that you've received a call, but you want to. You want to serve God, but have no idea how he could use you. I think I'm here to tell you that He WILL reveal it to you. Hold steadfast to that desire, keeps your eyes and your ears open, and pray to ask that He shows you. It may take some time, but when it all comes together before you, you'll be pleasantly overwhelmed by the beauty of His perfectly weaved will for you.
The enemy's desire is to convince us that what God tells us isn't true. He wants us to believe that we aren't worthy or capable or required of everything God has called us to.
We wrestle with this, we wrestle with God, and we wrestle with ourselves. But our God, being the ever intuitive, loving, graceful, and romantic God that He is, woos us and draws us back to His truth in love, every time.
At the end of the day, no matter what responsibilities we struggle through or what we choose to do, He delights in us, loves us, and He reminds us of His truths.