As I have mentioned probably 470328320 times, I am on Facebook a lot. A. Lot. I love Facebook. I sing love songs to it and whisper sweet nothings in its ear.
No, no, the last two aren’t true.
When you get down to it, Facebook is basically a way to announce to the world what you want them to know about you in that moment. It might be what you’re doing for the weekend, what your kids are crying about, or, inexplicably, pictures of your dinner. It allows you to post your thoughts and opinions on literally everything. That can get tedious but I think we can all agree that it is an effective form of communication, if not always the most personal.
Of course, this also means that you are going to see posts that you disagree with. Sometimes just a little, sometimes vehemently. That’s right. I said vehemently. And when that happens, you have two choices: make a comment or move on.
A few years ago, if I saw something I didn’t like. I always commented. Always. I have been told that I can be a little too quick to react without thinking to a lot of situations, (hard to believe, right?? RIGHT????) so my comments were not always the most polite. I would get involved in debates that lasted all day, sometimes not even totally sure why I was debating but confident in my right-ness about the situation. Is “right-ness” a word? Spell-check didn’t flag it. But it also didn’t flag “spell-check.” Hmm. Is my spell-check even on? What is it doing, watching TV? Get it together, spell-check.
So what was I saying? Oh, right – the right-ness. I would get angry and I would argue and argue until Daniel either took away my computer or one of my fingers went numb. Darn carpal tunnel. It wasn’t pretty.
After a while, I realized that I probably wasn’t helping anyone by shouting my thoughts as loud as I could. I certainly wasn’t showing people the love of Christ. So I decided to stop getting involved with arguments and debates on Facebook. It just wasn’t worth it.
And at first, that went really well. It was freeing to just scroll past controversial posts without feeling like I had to say something. I didn’t need to yell at people or tell them why they were wrong. I could just let them be.
But it didn’t take long for that to feel wrong, too. Not because I missed the angry debates or wanted to stir the pot, but because it seemed like the coward’s way out. I had gone from sharing everything to sharing nothing. No opinions, no disagreements, no nothin’. I was able to be everyone’s friend because no one knew what I really thought. It seemed like a wonderful idea, but it just didn’t feel right.
See, I got it wrong both times. I didn’t need to get angry and shout. I didn’t need to pretend like I had no opinions. I just needed to be honest.
We live in a time where people are afraid to be honest, I think. I know I am. I put too much stock in what others think of me. I care too much if my friends agree with the choices I make. It’s not something I recommend but I also think every person in the world experiences that in some form or fashion. The need to be accepted is deeply ingrained in each of us. And in order to gain and then keep that acceptance, we change ourselves. We see something we know is wrong and we keep scrolling. We see a friend hurting and we don’t reach out. We see a post that we know is harmless but we decide to lash out at the person anyway. All in the name of not rocking the boat or showing others how knowledgeable we are.
But – pardon the language, Mom – that’s crap. It is. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what my friends think of me. I don’t serve my friends. I don’t serve Facebook. I serve my Heavenly Father and no one else. That’s it.
God does not call us to be liked. He does not call us to be popular. He does not call us to have 3279 Facebook friends. He calls us to follow Him in everything that we do. And if we agree to do that, we also understand that there will be days where our opinion is unpopular. But whether God’s Word is popular has never been the reason to share it. We share it because it is God’s Word.
So I have decided that honesty is the best policy. I don’t need to shout. I don’t need to hide. I don’t have to be profound or funny or likable. I just need to tell the truth, God’s truth.
I’m not saying to get involved in every post you see on Facebook. I’m not saying to stop voicing your opinions. I just want us to think about why we are giving our opinions. Is it because you want to tell the truth, or because you want to win? Are you ignoring an issue because you know that your opinion is well-known, or because you don’t want to upset anyone? Ask yourself why you are saying what you are saying, and I think you’ll have a clear answer on what to do next.
Honesty can extend to our real lives, too. I know, I know; I am speaking of life outside of Facebook. Tell your friends. But being honest is important in all situations. There are some gray areas – for instance, you probably don’t need to tell your friend that her new hair cut is so bad you want to watch a Britney Spears music video just to get the image of her new bangs out of your head. But if your friend has broccoli in her teeth before church, help a sister out. And ask why she has broccoli for breakfast because that’s a little unusual.
More importantly, if a friend comes to you for counsel, be a friend. Be honest with them. Show them love and understanding, but above all, tell them the truth. Don’t do them the disservice of skirting around your opinions or berating them for their choices. If someone asks you what you think about an issue, tell them. You don’t have to put them down or be afraid to voice your thoughts. Just be honest. Just tell the truth. And if someone is honest with you, do them the courtesy of not taking it out on them. Know that your friends and family love you, and that sometimes telling you the truth is the best thing they have ever done for you, and the hardest thing they have ever done for you. Be honest with yourself when you are struggling over the next step to take. Be honest with yourself when you know that what you are doing isn’t right, and be honest with yourself when you have to make a hard choice that makes you unpopular.
I am a Christian. I know some people don’t like Christians. I know some people do. It doesn’t matter. It’s just the truth. I believe what the Bible says. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I believe that God is holy and that His Word is holy. And I know that we live in confusing times where we wrestle with ourselves over what to think about so many things. We know what God says, but we worry about what our friends think, what our family thinks. But we don’t need to. We don’t need to have an internal battle with ourselves. We don’t need to yell. We don’t need to be silent. We just need to tell the truth.
Be kind to one another. Show compassion for your fellow man. And remember that honesty is still the best policy. It can be hard and it can be lonely. But we can rest in the promise of God’s truth and know that in a world where everything is constantly changing, God’s truth never does.