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Resolved.

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Resolved. This year. To spend more time living in the real world than in the screen-sized world. To spend more time in relationship with the real people in my real life than with strangers in the media life. And to think for myself, free from the dictates of modern media and social trends.

 

Photo Credit: 2 Person Walking on Snowfield during Daytime · Free Stock Photo

Living in the Real World

blog_umbrellasI have an important question to ask you. It’s one that I’ve asked myself often, and with increasing measure as I move forward in age and life. Are you really thinking for yourself?

We live in an age where the media tells us to do this very thing. Think for yourself! Be your own person! Be unique! Yet this message comes coupled with the reality that our minds are not our own unless we’re willing to fight for them. For something that seeks to command our attention each waking moment also threatens to consume our minds.

Yes, the media tells us to think for ourselves all the while telling us what to think. It tells us to be our own person while dictating how we should act, dress, and respond. It tells us to be unique while insisting that if we are not in line with it’s values, we’ll face verbal persecution if not worse.

It saddens me when I go to family get-togethers and social gatherings only to observe this: all of us on our media devices, disconnected from the real world around us. We’re attached to our screens 24/7 minus the hours we sleep, and sometimes we don’t even sleep because the screen calls us from physical slumber.

But there’s a different kind of slumber I want to wake up from this year. It’s a screen-driven slumber. Though I’m thankful for all the friendships I’m able to maintain and all the family I’m able to stay connected with thanks to the gift of social media, I’m tired of being lulled to sleep by the light of a screen. And though there is good that can come from screen-time: inspirational quotes, blog posts, and programs, I want to free my mind from the excess baggage that comes along with modern technology.

Resolved. This year. To spend more time living in the real world than in the screen-sized world. To spend more time in relationship with the real people in my real life than with strangers in the media life. And to think for myself, free from the dictates of modern media and social trends.

 

Photo Credit: Free stock photo of colourful, umbrella

Beyond the Public Eye

Blog_EmptyStageThere was a time when it was okay to be unknown. People sang in the shower without aspiring to idol status. Gifted writers were content when their words served to encourage their friends and loved ones. Iron chefs cooked for the love of food and family.

Now everything’s a competition. A good voice isn’t enough unless it’s discovered. The written word seems worthless if not hailed by the masses. There’s even cooking shows that turn the kitchen into a stage and the well-cooked meal into a shot at stardom.

What drives us to push our talents and abilities into the public eye? Why are we so discontent with obscurity?

Maybe we’re longing for significance—believing it can only be found in worldwide recognition. If the world knows we’re gifted, we’re assured of our existence. We feel validated only when acknowledged by others. Add impatience to the mix. We want immediate gratification from our efforts—likes and shares, comments and accolades.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most enduring works of art were created in obscurity. Many now-famous writers, artists, and composers weren’t recognized for their work until they passed on from this life. Would we of this fame-famished generation be content to know our greatest works will benefit those powerless to build our present-day ego?

I’d rather have my work outlive me for the benefit of a generation I’ll never see than for it merely to endure a short-lived hype. Serving in obscurity ensures sincerity. If I’m using my talent only for immediate recognition, hypocrisy is likely to steal the stage—my works governed by the feeble and fleeting opinions of man. It’s better to flourish in obscurity than to waste away in the toxic waters of fame.

The Day I Celebrated my 107th Birthday

Celebration from Bing Images I am not even a half-century old, as some have come to believe—though I did celebrate my 107th birthday this year. My birthday does not fall on Leap Year. And while my memory is not completely in tact, I do recall the day I nearly doubled in age.

Remembering birthdays has never been my strong point, and it has nothing to do with old age. I don’t expect anyone but my immediate family to remember mine. Sometimes, I even forget my own birthday. So I entered it on Facebook as February 29, 1908 as a joke. That way I’d only have to celebrate once every four years, which is fine by me.

I’d forgotten all about it until I opened my account on February 28 to a timeline filled with birthday wishes—though those who really know me caught the humor behind it. After a good laugh, I thanked my well-wishers, apologized for the misunderstanding, and changed my birthday info in the account settings.

The whole thing got me thinking—how well do I really know my friends? There’s no way I could know every detail about everyone’s life, and I wouldn’t expect a small fraction of my friends to know the same about me. But those closest to me, know me—and I, them.

There are friends from different seasons of my life, all whom I love for the roles they’ve had in my life story. Some of those friends I know well, others I wish I’d had the chance to get to know better. Then there are those with whom I’ve shared the deepest valleys and the highest heights. We know each other well enough to “see into” each other. We don’t need social media to remind us the details of our lives, because we already know.

Beyond even the best of friendships, there is one who knows us better than we know ourselves. God not only knows the day we were born, he knew us before we were born. It says he knows our deepest thoughts and our unspoken desires. He sees the hidden corners of our hearts, yet loves us still. So, even if the world mistakenly believes me to be 107 years old, God counts the exact number of my days. Because true love knows.
 
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:1-6)

True Love…KNOWS (Day 26, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

50 Shades of Love (the Sequel)

Blog_BlurredHeartsI’ve decided I’d rather be known for what I stand for than what I stand against. And what I want to stand for is love. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I’ve decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” In a culture of hate, the temptation is to harden our hearts, but love is the only thing that can overcome evil.

We live in an age of tolerance, yet there remains much we should not tolerate—including abuse, racism, violence, and modern slavery. And yes, it is important to take a stand against such evils. Yet often in the process of fighting injustice, we fall prey to hateful, bitter hearts. We forget to confront the root issues—those things lacking in our culture and left in the void that contribute to the mindset behind injustice. And what is most lacking in our world? Love.

Our culture has developed a craving for abusive relational habits, such as those trending in modern media. And why? Because we’ve lost sight of the true definition of love, or we never knew what love was to begin with.

In a child development class I once took, we were told that instead of telling a child not to do something harmful or dangerous, we need to give them something productive to do instead. In a similar manner, we can warn others against engaging in media that promotes abusive relationships, but unless we find a positive alternative on which to focus our attentions, appetites will never change.

As a boat with no anchor is sure to drift, a life with no understanding of selfless, sacrificial love will drift toward abuse, racism, violence, slavery, and other destructive tendencies. If those who know of true love stand on the sidelines yelling, “Stop drifting. Stop drifting!” what good is it? What we need is the anchor.

There’s a game called “name the lie, insert the truth.” In the case of relationships, it is no game. The lie is that we exist to gratify our own selfish desires, or to enslave ourselves to the indulgent appetites of another. The truth is, we were specially designed for relationship based on supernatural, self-sacrificing love that builds one another up rather than tearing down.

I hate abuse, racism, violence, slavery, and similar evils because they dehumanize, demoralize, and degrade those made for a greater love and a higher purpose. But more than that, I want to stand for love—it’s power to heal, transform, and overcome. Over the next fifty days, I’m devoting my attentions to exploring what true love is—whether through a Bible verse, a quote, or an example of self-sacrificing love. My personal Facebook and Twitter campaign is #50ShadesOfTrueLove. Feel free to join me, if you want.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

For the Write Reason

I LikeI started writing because I love to write. I started blogging because I wanted to share what I write. And I started using social media so I could share what I posted in my blogs. My desire was that something I went through or something I wrote about would help someone else—that someone, somewhere would be encouraged by my words or my struggles, my victories and failures.

Somewhere in the midst of it all, it’s tempting to lose sight of why I started writing to begin with. The world of blogging and social media can so easily be gauged by how many views or likes a post gets. Instead of writing for the love of writing, and sharing words for the love of people, we start writing for the love of approval. We feel validated by the views and likes, or discouraged by the lack thereof—and so write to fill our own fuel tank of emotional need. The end result is writer’s burnout.

When we write merely to validate our existence, or to gain approval from others, we lose our sense of purpose. A compass set to others’ opinions is bound to take us off course. The judgments of man are constantly changing. What’s trending one day is forgotten the next. I don’t want to write to be popular or well-liked. I want to write from the heart, words that will stand the test of time and eternity.

If I have only one reader who was encouraged, inspired or changed by my words, it’s worth more than a million viewers following a passing trend.

Lord, use my words to make a difference in this world—for now and for eternity. Find that one person who needs to hear what I have to say, and let them be blessed by my humble offering of words.