There is a certain tight rope quality to being involved in social media. You want to be genuine, transparent, and real without falling into the TMI category. Those people who present a highly edited version of themselves are what gives online interactions a bad name, but so do the ones who provide the intimate details of their bowel movements.
Before I began blogging consistently, I journaled. In my daughter’s room sits a large leather trunk. Jumbled together inside are empty picture frames, rocks collected on our honeymoon and my journals. I have been journaling since I was in elementary school. Beginning with those first diaries covered in kittens, sealed with a lock and key, I realized that writing down my thoughts helped me to focus and to release the tension within me.
There were times where I felt like I would burst if I didn’t put pen to paper, pouring my heart out to God. Praying out loud or in my mind never worked as well for me as this process of journaling did. Additionally, it was so interesting to be able to look back and see how far God had brought me and the prayers He had answered.
Fast forward to January 2010. I had started blogging about a year before, solely to update family and friends in Washington to keep them connected to us. I had also written a few things for Ungrind and discovered that writing could be more than journaling and school papers for me. I began jotting down my thoughts and feelings, things God was showing me, on the computer screen instead of in my journal. At first it felt very much the same, because no one was really reading.
Then, people started commenting, online and in-person. People were paying attention. Once I realized there was an audience, things changed a little. I still enjoyed it, but I felt a check about what to share. I began walking a fine line between being genuine and over-sharing. There have been posts where I was terrified after pushing “publish” because I felt like maybe I’d stepped onto the wrong side of the line. And I discovered that instead of just writing from my heart, with abandon, I began to worry about grammar, style, and content. This is not a bad thing. I want to improve as a writer. I hope to someday make a career out of writing and speaking.
The only problem was that I spent so much time blogging and reading other’s blogs that I neglected my journaling. I was reading the Bible, Christian non-fiction and listening to sermons, but my motives weren’t always right. It was more about having something to share than about growing my relationship with God. I was teetering up there, all eyes on me, and about to fall.
Then, one night last week, I sat down with my journal and my Bible and just wrote. I didn’t worry about what words I used, or proper punctuation, or if people would think I’m smart. I didn’t hold back from fear of sharing other’s stories or what people would think of me. This was just me and God.
It felt so good. The thoughts, worries, fears, hopes and dreams that I had been bottling up inside came pouring out. I felt closer to God than I had in a long time. I wasn’t turning to Him for anything, I just turned to Him.
I realized in that moment that I had gotten off track. Blogging is good for me, it helps me feel connected to others and it makes me a better writer. But journaling, for me, is necessary because it connects me to God like nothing else does and that connection makes me a better person. In journaling there is no wire to walk, I can over-share because God already knows all.
There are numerous ways people connect to God. For you it might be music, art, nature, or service. Whatever it is, God showed me that it’s our heart that is most important. If you’re doing it as a means to an end, a pathway to personal gain, you’re going to run dry. There needs to be activities in your life that are solely done to connect with God; things that allow you to bask in His presence. You don’t need to walk away with a profound vision or word at the end, just a sense of communion with Him.
The high-wire act is not just about knowing how much to share in social media, it’s how you relate to God. Reading the latest books should not replace time in the Word. Listening to the popular sermon podcasts cannot be an excuse to neglect sitting quietly in His presence, waiting for that still small voice. Fellowship with the church body, whether online or in-person, is no substitute for fellowship with God in the privacy of our own devotions.
What things do you do to connect with God?
How do you find balance in these areas?