Quick, I want you to think of three of your closest friends at the moment. Got them?
Now raise your hand if most of your interaction with these friends is through text message or social media? (I see you... I'm raising mine high too.)
For me, two out of three of my closest friends at the moment are out of state. So I have no other choice but to use social media to connect with them. (Not like I wouldn't be using it anyway though, I mean hello... this is me we're talking about)
But the truth is, social media is just as much a form of communication, in our culture today, as giving someone a phone call or writing them a letter. And it's probably the next best thing to being face-to-face. If you're reading this blog, I don't need to explain that to you. You're here, connected with me, through this little space.
There is a great sense of community I feel from people who interact with me online, on a daily basis. The likes, the comments, the tweets. The ones that say, "Hey sister, I'm praying for you!" or "Hey girl, you really ministered to me through that song you shared today!" Some days, these are the only words of encouragement I may hear (or see) from someone other than my husband.
But while I have developed a real sense of community with a lot of you reading this, there is a huge, HUGE part of me that longs for this same community offline.
I have taken breaks from spending time on social media. I've turned off all notifications on my iPhone so I'm not distracted by the constant alerts. But the fact is, I keep going back to it. Because a lot of times what I find here is more encouraging than what I find out there.
This burden has been on my heart for awhile now, and I've been struggling with how to put it exactly.
>>> As a society, we've dropped the ball when it comes to encouragement. <<<
Sure we're good at flattery. "I love that outfit!" "Your hair looks great!"
But, honest, genuine, encouraging words are only found in my (facebook, email, twitter) inbox or text messages these days.
Why is it so hard for us to give (and receive!) compliments to people face to face? Have we become so comfortable hiding behind our virtual masks that we just assume that it means the same thing whether it comes from our lips or in 120 characters?
Like I said, I love love love the encouragement I receive online. But if we leave the building up of one another to the computer screens, then aren't we also leaving ourselves open to receive discouragement online as well?
After all, if our encouragement is as shallow as a comment or like on a photo, then wouldn't the lack of a "like" or "comment" be the equivalent of discouragement?
You see where I'm heading?
Our worth is far more valuable than the likes we receive and as believers, I believe our calling to encourage goes far beyond just a text message.
Give someone a compliment today. Let them know you are praying for them. And really, genuinely do. Encourage someone in an area they are skilled at. Take time to listen to someone share what's on their heart.
And one more thing, give them a hug.