I am back! Apologies that it has been over a month since my last posting about being in our new house. Due to a few technical glitches it has taken a while to get our phone line sorted out and what a fun month it has been. Although I haven't been completely offline as I have had access through my mobile, it is still quite limiting. But I wanted to reflect on this experience, not to say about the bad things of the internet (as many do when they "fast" from facebook and all its "evils") but to reflect on the positives.
Love it or hate it, the internet is now an integral part of our lives, and we can either dig in our heels and talk about the "good old days" or we can try to accept it for what it is and use it for good. The internet can be said to divide people and make them lonely, separating them from real life relationships and conversations. But it can only do that if we let it. Instead I say lets embrace the whole idea of social network, and use it to bring people together instead!!
In keeping with my challenge to be a catalyst, I am trying to use facebook to organise events, to keep in touch with people when distance would separate us anyway and to forge new relationships. This is why this month has been hard, as it has put a dampener on what I could do. I love being able to set up events, to put positive comments and to encourage others through facebook. I love being able to put up posts that hopefully inspire others and give people a glimpse into the craziness that is my life.
So here are my top things that I love being able to do on facebook that I have missed, and what I think we can all do for our relationships and for God through them (lets embrace our social network lives and use them for God's glory!):
- Set up events and organise activities using it. I have been able to co-ordinate my new Pudding Club purely through facebook, and so far it is going well. I am hoping that by doing it this way I can bring together my different sets of friends. Of course, I never rule out inviting people in person, but sometimes it is easier to co-ordinate diaries by just sending it out via facebook and seeing who responds
- set up groups bringing different friends together. I previously set up a facebook book club group to discuss a book that I had started reading that I found really encouraging. It was called "Ordinary Mum, Extraordinary Mission", so I invited everyone who I knew was a mum to small children and a Christian to be a member. It meant that we got opinions and comments from mum's all over the UK from different churches and backgrounds which was great!
- keep in touch with long lost friends. I know that without facebook I would have fallen out of touch with many many people, but through this I can touch base with them every so often and see how they are doing. Only yesterday, a girl from my christian union at uni got in touch with lots of us to ask advice about baby purchases. We were able to offer all our experience and also see how she is getting on, but without facebook that wouldn't have been possible. I have also been able to catch up on their news and see when I can pray for them and offer any wisdom or advice, and people have done the same for me (I know so many people, old and new, have been praying for our house move and I am so grateful for that)
- comment and encourage. I always find it encouraging to read people's comments on my posts and want to make sure that I encourage others in the same way. Sometimes it takes a while to think and pray about the right comment, but just knowing that you can make an impact in someone's life who could be miles away is empowering. I make it a rule to always be positive on facebook, and if we all stuck to that it would be an amazing platform for building others up.
- provide a window into your life. As Christians we are called to be light to the world and a beacon of the hope that we have found in Jesus. So I always make sure that whatever I post on facebook reflects this, as this is how others will see us. I want to be honest and open about challenges and trials, but also honest about how God helps me through them and answers to prayers.
Overall, I think the internet and facebook can be such a powerful platform to encourage, unite and witness to others so lets seize that opportunity with both hands and make a difference. One final thing to share is this - through 40 acts I saw a guy who had set himself a challenge to visit everyone of his facebook friends in person over a year. I would love to be able to do this and to see people who live all over the world and who I haven't seen for years (if money and time would allow!) and I would love for them to say that being my facebook friend has made a difference to their lives. The only way to make that a reality is to consciously try to do this - will anyone else join me in this challenge?