Thoughts: Not So Social Media

Something that’s been on my mind lately is loneliness. It’s so perplexing that in a time where we can communicate faster than lightning across hundreds of thousands of miles that we are so distant from people. We’re about posting statuses on Facebook that make it look like we’re adventurous, deep, and incredibly joyous. We post photos on Instagram that make us seem more interesting, more attractive, more passionate, more ambitious. We Tweet on Twitter things that make us seem more witty, things that make us seem connected to the outside world, to those that are famous. Yet we don’t even know how to interact with actual people.

Sadly, most of these things are complete bullshit.

People are so afraid to be real. We want to be exactly like what the media wants us to be, yet we’ll ridicule the media for creating such outlandish expectations for a human being. So why do we continue to desire to be exactly what the media wants? Why do we continue to let it happen and then complain for pity? There’s no way on Earth we can be interesting, attractive, stylish, hip, kind, loving, selfless, or intelligent all of the time. No one person knows exactly how to function properly. No one political party is correct. No one view is completely correct.

It’s frustrating living in a world where putting on a mask is as easy as turning on a 4″ screen. I can’t have a decent conversation with most people because they are so concerned about snapchating every single aspect of their life or can’t handle going 2 seconds without taking a selfie because if someone else doesn’t like it then they’re not beautiful that day. Social media makes me hate people, and the sad thing is, it’s because those people don’t want to be who they actually are.

In this time, it’s so hard to be single. I am trying desperately to find a wife who is an actual person, who has flaws, who needs me to help them, whom I need to help me. I can’t find her though, because there’s not a single woman who knows how to take compliments without instantly comparing themselves to someone they think is better. So often, when I tell a woman she’s beautiful, she may say thank you, but what she’s really thinking is, “But not to me”. Everyone is hiding behind 6 layers of makeup, tight clothes, salads, and push-up bras.

That’s so heartbreaking. And it’s the same for men. We compare, we don’t feel “manly” enough, whatever the hell that means, we shoot for ideals we can never attain. Ideals of physical attraction, style, intrigue, how to please a woman.

Ideals.

That’s what we create. That’s what we’re after. But ideals aren’t real.

Sadly, we try and make those ideals real, and we try to make real things into ideals to make ourselves feel like we can attain something great. We want that glory and acclaim that accomplishing those ideals will bring. We’ll be such a great person, we’ll have such a great life. If we can get to this point, we won’t need anything else.

Christians often make Christ an ideal. More often than not, living in a small, conservative town with conservative churches, Christ becomes this set of rules. Christ becomes this specific time and amount of prayer. Christ becomes Scripture in a book. Christ becomes words in a cheesy, cliché song that doesn’t really mean anything. It’s the same for th liberal church, just with things skewed way too far to the left. Christ becomes so ethereal, you can claim him to be anything. Christ is all around always, so you don’t have to spend time with him. Christ can only be found in the spontaneous and unstaged.

It’s all bad and it’s all not real. Christ is a person. Christ is real. He touches people. He speaks to people. He is present with people. He loves, He’s awkward, he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. He doesn’t try to look perfect for every single person on the planet.

When was the last time you prayed because you wanted to and not because you felt you had to or didn’t want to feel guilty about not praying? When was the last time you read scripture because you wanted to see the word of Yahweh rather than searching for some sort of answer to life? When was the last time you worshipped on your own rather than waving your arms about in church because you feel you have to? When was the last time you repented because you wanted your life to change rather than out of fear of looking bad to others or being fearful of things like sex, alcohol, or cursing themselves? There’s just so much Religion.

Religion: a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.

Whatever your religion may be, whether it be social media, other’s opinions, an ideal, drop it. Religion causes so many problems on this earth, and not just the kind involving the spiritual. It’s everywhere and I want to encourage you to live your life apart from ideals that you can never attain. It’s perfectly fine to have beliefs and to want to strive for something greater, but it’s not okay to make that thing ultimate. There is so much to life, life can never be just one thing. Be with people, stay off your phones more often, experience life outside of a 4″ screen.

Zeal: Pride’s Humble Brother

We took Christ right out of his own house.

I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate things lately. Jesus has been throwing a ton of interesting thoughts and concepts onto my plate. It almost feels like being an indecisive eater stuck in Golden Corral. Luckily, I have a super rad friend, Austin, who has the same craving for truth about Christ as I do. We’re searching for answers because we have a void that can’t be filled by, “That’s how I was raised” or “Well, I heard it in a sermon”.

I’ve been seeing a ton of religious talk lately. About the exclusion of the LGBT community, about Evolution, about the well groomed-bearded-flannel-donning-attractive Christianity, and it’s all incredibly heart-breaking to me. Here’s why:

Christ is in none of it. Christ isn’t the focus at all.

Before I dig any deeper, I want to take a look at Pride and Zeal.

Pride often gets confused with Zeal, only because people try to make Pride look humble and call it Zeal. Zeal is a great thing. It’s much like passion, like motivation, like desire. Pride is like that, only Pride is about the betterment of ourselves whereas I would associate Zeal with such things as Social Justice and compassion.

So, with those things in mind, we can get back to the affore-mentioned religious talk. The LGBT is constantly being ridiculed by Christians, whether in Government, the private sector, or, even more abominable, the Church itself, Evolution is viewed as Satan’s biology project, and our church communities have been not-so-slowly shifting to talking more about coffee and clothing than Christ and Cross.

My heart breaks every single time I look at social media. I read an article just the other day about a Christian campus group that is pushing for a law that would allow them to keep the LGBT out of their groups, and not just a campus only thing but a national thing. I saw that groups at Duke were trying to get benefactors to withhold funding because a Muslim group was praying during their meetings on campus. I’ve had many friends claim that anyone who would believe in the myth of Evolution are deluded and unintelligent. I’ve been to so many churches lately that talk more about their favorite coffee shops than the reason for even having Church in the first place.

It makes me cringe.

Why?

Because we’re focused on ourselves. (I say we because I am included. In no way, shape, or form will I ever write something that’s critical and not include myself. Mostly, because I really suck as a human too.)

We took Christ right out of his own house. “Here’s your eviction notice Mr. Christ, could you take your Grace and Mercy with you? We don’t need that anymore.”

Just to be clear, I’m not saying that if you wear flannel and love coffee that you don’t love Jesus, I love flannel and coffee shops. I’m not saying that if you aren’t for Evolution that you’re unintelligent, I don’t agree with Evolution, but I can’t say I know exactly how and what God used/did to create. I’m not saying that if you’re a little unsettled by the LGBT community that you hate them, I personally love the gay community and admire their ability to support their peers through Hell and high water.

What I am saying is this:

We need more Grace.
I need more Grace.

We get so caught up in discussing airy topics, in discriminating, in trying to find fatal flaws, in explaining things away, in being right.

I was a part of several really awesome communities, life happened, and then I left those communities. Once I was on the outside, I started seeing flaws in those communities. It soon became my goal to rip those things apart. I was consumed with Pride, that my way of doing things was 100% correct and theirs was not, and we couldn’t let that happen because my way was Jesus’ way and theirs wasn’t. But the simple truth of the matter is that I was wrong. I was merely hurt because this community full of people that I love didn’t bother to try and see my side, they didn’t see the merit in the way I went about things. The same was true for me. I didn’t see anything from their perspective either. Jesus let me know that. He let me know that my Pride had become bigger than him.

I started to evaluate why this had happened. I found out that a lot of my friends were only friends within certain buildings. That my role as a church leader wasn’t as important because I was young. That even after countless years of pouring my heart and soul into several ministries, trying to ensure that Christ would remain the center, that he would call me out of it and I would watch one die and another change completely.

I’m still hurt by it. But I’m hurt even more because I didn’t have the Grace to try and see those people’s perspectives. If I had Zeal, I would have made an attempt to stay a part of those people’s lives. There’s people whom I love very deeply that I don’t even speak to because I’m too wrapped up in my pain and could care less about their perspectives.

That’s the incredibly sad, brutal truth.

So how do we get back to what Christ wants?

How do we be intentional with those who’ve wronged us? How do we forgive ourselves for doing the wronging? How do we try to see others complexly? How do we try and put ourselves in their situation and feel their pain alongside them?

I don’t have the answer. It’s different for every person. Christ is obviously a common denominator, and a huge part of the answer, but I can’t lay out details. I get it wrong all the time.

Austin and myself have had several talks about Grace and Love lately. About how we’re focused on so many different things that don’t matter. It opened my eyes to see that I was focused on me. I didn’t have any Zeal in me, only Pride. Hopefully, Christ will grant me some Zeal, so my heart isn’t just a calloused mass anymore and I can start loving people again.