It seems to be popular thought these days that our society is more connected than ever before in known history. For example, we no longer have to wait for the Pony Express to cross the rivers, mountains, and dusty plains to bring us a note from our dearest friend. In fact, most of us don’t even have to wait on that five minute dial-up process for our Internet connection anymore either! However, despite the never-ending options with which to connect to people, I believe we are less connected than ever before.
When was the last time you had an hour or longer, heart-to-heart conversation with someone who does not live with you?
(Ha! Who am I trying to kid?! When was the last time you had that kind of conversation with someone you do live with?!) While our internet connections are getting stronger and faster, our relationships with others are getting crowded out by the crackling noise of information overload due to all the sharing options at our fingertips.
We may be sharing facts with our numerous friends these days, but we are not connecting with them.
According to Dictionary.com “connecting” means: “to join, link, or fasten together; unite or bind”. So let me ask you: how are you using social media to join you to the women in your life? How are you being united with friends, old and new, through social media? Is it even possible to deepen our relationships with other women through the means of social media or is it just meant to be about sharing “stuff”?
I passionately believe that if we reform the way we use our social media accounts we can do more than just share “stuff”, we can connect on a deeper, ever-growing level. But how?
Let’s turn to Philippians 2 for some wisdom on the matter:
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.” (ESV)
Here are eight ways to change how you use social media in order to connect more deeply rather than just share:
1. Find your identity in Christ.
Until you understand who you are in Christ you will not be able to truly connect with others. Back up to chapter one of Philippians and remind yourself of of the gospel and its impact on your life right now. Sure, salvation provides an eternal home in Heaven someday, but it is so much more than that! The gift of salvation saves you from who you are today — a selfish person looking out for your own interests.
2. Think about others.
As you grow in understanding of what a wicked sinner you are and what an amazing Savior you have, your thoughts will be about others more than yourself. When you are using your various forms of social media, don’t just think about updating your own status, read what is happening in the lives of others.
3. Let go of jealousy.
Jesus, though the Son of God, did not cling to this, but rather became nothing in order to serve us. As you browse your various social media feeds you need to continually remind yourself of who you are in Christ Jesus so that you won’t pick up the mindset of jealousy. It’s easy to see a picture of someone’s new home, new car, new outfit, or new anything and immediately wish that it was yours. Let go of that! Remember that if you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, He will provide all you need and right now, that thing you are jealous of is not God’s plan for you.
4. Become a servant.
Jesus humbled Himself to serve us. As you think of how much God loves you, let that change your thoughts to see the status updates, tweets, and pictures as opportunities to serve those people. Maybe it is by asking a follow-up question the next time you see that person face-to-face. Perhaps it is providing a meal to the friend who is sick. Or sending a note in the snail mail to the friend who is discouraged. You’re creative — when you read the updates of others ask yourself what you would want someone to do for you!
5. Praise God for working in your life!
When you reach out to really connect with someone else, praise God for working in your heart to do so. As you praise God for what He is doing, your thoughts will be taken off yourself and your heart will continue to grow in focusing on God which automatically leads to think of others more than yourself. Use social media as a means to publicly praise God. This does not mean brag about how perfect you are, but rather sharing what God is doing in a vulnerable and transparent manner.
6. Do all things without complaining.
When you complain and grumble, you are sinning and driving a wedge between you and others. I cannot think of one way that complaining helps me build a true relationship with another person. Because it doesn’t! Oh, it may feel like it for a brief time, but really it just erodes any foundation that is already there and places doubt in the mind of the listener. Do not use social media as a place to air your complaining thoughts. Instead, confess them privately to God.
7. Hold onto the truth of God’s Word.
Remember that what you see on social media is not the Word of God. Before you connect with others be sure to connect with the Author of your very life breath. Do not be swayed by the various opinions you read and see in the social media realms — turn to Scripture for truth.
8. Rejoice as your pour your life out for Christ.
Connecting with others can feel like you are pouring yourself out and is exhausting. Paul is encouraging us in Philippians to not dread this, but rather rejoice and be glad with him that God has given us these opportunities to sacrifice for Him.
I am confident that as you apply God’s truth to your use of social media you will begin to see yourself connecting — bonding, uniting — with others more and more.
How will Philippians chapter two change your social media use this week? In what ways have you creatively used social media to connect with others rather than just share with them?
Photography: JenniMarie Photography