Thursday, April 29, 2010

The False Friendships of Facebook?

I know what color socks you are wearing. I know when you are stuck in traffic. I know when your birthday is and can even send you greetings from my living room. I know your favorite books, movies and quotes. I know when you have good days and bad.

Nope, I'm not a stalker...I'm your Facebook friend. And as great as it is to be in instant communication with my friends and gobble up little bits of their lives with no effort, it is not friendship.

Have you ever gotten an email from someone and something in it pushed your buttons so badly that you fire back a snotty reply? Oh, come've done it...I mean I haven't but I've heard of people that have and I'm sure you are one of them. (he, he) Seriously though, your hot button's been pushed, you hit send and now what? You are in an argument with someone only to find out they forgot to put the little smiley face next their sarcasm and you didn't pick it up. They weren't trying to push any buttons, in fact when you go back and read it (inserting your own :) ) it is sort of funny. Oops. Email was invented for business communication and in our all-too-busy lives we've adapted it to fit our needs. However, does it replace a good old fashioned phone call? No. Tone of voice would have told you she is kidding, not emoticons needed. You could have also heard her need for encouragement, her fatigue or her excitement, but we miss those things when we go for convenience over quality.

By now you are tapping your foot and saying, "Wendy, come on? Everyone uses email and Facebook (Twitter, MySpace...and more)."

Yep, they do. And my issue isn't with them, per se, but more the false sense of connectedness and friendship it seems to be lending to our already disconnected society. Since I know your beef with the moron in traffic this morning and I saw your pictures from your latest vacation, somehow it feels like I know what's going on in your life. But I don't know what is going on in your heart -- I don't know the troubles your teenage daughter is having that I could pray for (cuz she'd kill you if you posted that!!), or how you got passed over for that promotion again for work or how you are struggling to understand why God doesn't answer your prayer.

Why? Because it is hard to be vulnerable to 500 people when they have a chance to "like" your status, message each other and judge you from their living rooms. Because fb allows us to be a better version of ourselves (at least publicly) -- more funny, more religious, more caring. No one can see your flaws unless you post them and that doesn't happen.

I do love to use Facebook to share my photos with family and friends that are far away. I can put up tons without overloading their inboxes and they can leave their comments. It is a great way to share my life, because Facebook is not our connection it enhances our communication.

I'm on a quest for friends, not numbers, lately. Funny, flawed, real women with whom I can laugh, love and live. I am sure there are a number of my 236 friends on Facebook that fit that bill, but how many of us will make the investment to be more than a number on someone's profile? Will pickup the phone? Will invite someone to dinner? Will dare to peel back our profile and show the sometimes ugly humanness underneath?

What do you use Facebook for? Does it define your relationships? Enhance your friendships? I want to hear how social media is impacting women's relationships...oh and if you want you can add me as a friend. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Holding onto the Boxwoods

Sitting at my desk as I look out the window I can see grass, trees and flowers I planted last weekend.  This doesn't seem so terribly remarkable to you, I suppose, because you don't know the old view. Until last week five foot tall (probably closer to any rate they were taller than me!) boxwoods blocked out the sun and my only view was the edge of greenery and the deadwood underneath.

Even before the house was officially ours we knew we had to trim them or rip them out. They were overgrown and growing out over our walkway, you had to steer clear of them just to enter our house. From the street they didn't look so bad, really. In fact some people had mentioned how the boxwoods made the house look stately.

From the walkway side they were green, full, and imposing; it wasn't until I was standing in the middle of them with my clippers that I realized what horrible shape they were in. There were lots of dead branches, dying leaves and vines choking the trunks. Several hours later they were virtually chopped to the ground and I stood staring at the front of our house. It looked SO big and open. Better than I could have envisioned and I was so excited to fill in those once shadowed gardens with flowers and plants.

And as excited as I was outside I couldn't imagine what it would change on the inside of our home. The front rooms (my office and the dining room) while nice rooms have seemed dark and less welcoming then the rest of the house. We used them, but honestly have not really enjoyed them or figured out how to live in them. With the boxwoods gone, the light pours in. The brightly colored walls and rugs take on new hues and I linger at my desk, and we even sat and talked at the dining room table after a meal!

One person even said, "I wouldn't have had the imagination to visualize what it would look like with them gone, but I love it!"

As I have begun to ponder the boxwoods I began to think of my own own boxwoods.

What am I holding on to because I can't visualize life without it?

Are there things that are overgrown in my life?

Things that look healthy to a passerby, but are actually dead and gnarled underneath?

Things that are blocking out the light and prohibiting new growth?

Last year was a season of great loss and sadness in my life -- my aunt was deathly ill, we sold our old house (as the neighborhood became someplace we didn't want to raise our children), I had a couple of health scares and the end of year was marked with my Aunt's death and funeral. I had hoped (and prayed) that God would begin filling me up this year...filling in the holes left my months of stress and sadness.

Not quite. Instead, He is continuing to prune, work and dig in my soul. As though the season from last year prepared my heart for His Holy gardening gloves to do their work.

But in light of the boxwoods, I now view this season a little differently.

Can you imagine the change in my soul when these overgrown, dead things are cleared out and His light shines through? I can't, truthfully...and perhaps that's why I have never let go of the habits and thoughts...I couldn't visualize life without them. But He could.

So now I ask you have any boxwoods? Don't know? Can't visualize life beyond where it is now? I urge you to ask Him to point out the things in your life that inhibit your growth and His light. Throw your arms open and ask Him to go to work!

Father, I long for a safe, comfortable life, but I know that is not what brings You glory and it is not what draws me closer to You. And what I want is more of You to pour in me until I overflow...if You have to rip my boxwoods out to let that happen I am ready and willing, and so thankful that You are able and You already know the woman You want me to become...I can't wait to be her.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Search of Friends

In her final moments, they were with her. After weeks of cleaning her home, doing her laundry, administering her medication, cooking for her and so much more they sacrificed sleep and comfort zones to hold her hand as death knocked. They weren't her sisters, hired help or nurses...they were her friends.

Even in my grief I was aware of how well these women had loved my aunt. And in the days and weeks since Kriss's death I have marveled at what she built in life. Any Saturday Kriss could be found at a soccer game or birthday party for her friends children. Her life centered around the people she loved.  She lived life with them -- shopping, eating, of herself. She invested wholly in the people she loved and they felt every ounce of it.

One truth has come glaringly into focus for me. I don't have friends. Not friends like that. I have some girlfriends who I study with, go out to eat with now and then, but I don't have the kind of friends who would put their lives on hold to help me fight the demons at the door (be they cancer, depression or sudden emergency).



I don't invest in my friendships the way I should. I spend much of life in competition with other women; many of whom don't even know my name...let alone that I'm determined to win at what I perceive they are good at. "My children are more obedient than hers" (go ahead dare to think that thought...your children will then proceed to melt down in Target screaming and throwing things). "I need to go shopping so I can look as cute and put together as she does." "My husband holds my hand too, but I wish we looked that in love." "Before the ladies come over next week, I need to get some fresh flowers for the bathroom so my house looks like one from the magazines." I spend so much time letting my insecurities steer my life that I have been missing something incredible.

Those children who are melting down; their mother looks tired and sad, perhaps I can pray for her and offer her a small smile. You know the kind of look that says "hang in there, I understand." There's no woman with a put together house or outfit that isn't covering up the same brokenness I am. And no marriage is perfect or without moments of disconnect, instead of caring how we look on Sunday morning, I need to invest in our quiet moments at home that are the foundation for our life together.

You know what I really missed, though? Friendship.

I wait for people to call me or choose to send them a little message on Facebook. I don't reach out. I'm not vulnerable. I want to wait for someone to invest in me fully before I invest in them at all. You know what that equals...loneliness.

I'm a women's ministry leader, I love women! I want them to make incredible friendships that grow in God. I want them to learn to trust each other and understand that God designed us to be relational...we are meant to have friends. But more than that we are meant to BE a friend. I need that women's ministry as much as anyone else!

So, in the months that I have been wading through grief for the loss of one of my closest friends, my Aunt, I've learned a lot from her. I've been trying to pick up the phone more. To reach out. To offer to help. To let down my guard. To learn to be the friend that Kriss was.

In a little less than a month we will be officially kicking off our Women's Ministry for Mountain View Community Church (my amazing church home). We are in the midst of planning an incredible night of food, fun and teaching for our women. But there is some personal prep going on in my home...I'm getting ready to just be me. If I trip walking across the stage, well then I can't be any more me! If I'm not the most put together cutie there, that's okay, I can compliment the other women on their outfits. I pray that God allows me to leave my walls and baggage at home and just go meet His girls; the women He's placed in the next pew or around the block for a reason.

I'm going in search of friends (wow, not in the weird stalkerish way that a sweet kinda way!!).