“He slept a summer by my side, He filled my days with endless wonder,
He took my childhood in his stride, but he was gone when autumn came.”
“I Dreamed a Dream” From Les Miserable (Fantene)
Passionately singing this song, above the resounding notes of Sarah’s piano playing, the three girls in our family find this song hauntingly beautiful. The image of a young girl, innocently convincing herself that she is deeply in love, giving her whole being to one who is there to consume her. When with child at the end of the summer, Eponine, the young girl, is left with scars, a pregnancy, responsibilities; her so-called lover is no where to be found.
I meet so many precious young women who gave themselves so such men. Women, longing for love, acceptance, purpose, a place to belong and to be validated, gave their souls to one who could never be a source of long-term love, strength or goodness.
I see that social media could be this kind of boyfriend–here to entice you today, but gone tomorrow, where you are left to clean up a life with scars, loneliness and rejection or just silence, the feeling of being invisible.
Now social media has its place–we can write articles of encouragement to be read by others all over the world. We can connect with old friends and meet like-minded friends on the internet. We can show pictures of our children, birthdays, holidays. There are many amazing revelations through the internet.
But there is a possible down side to this is “just virtual” relationship. I do not deny that social media and the web can fill some very important needs in our lives and can give us information at a moment’s notice. But throughout history, life was never meant to be lived this way. God designed us to live in such a way as to leisurely be able to observe His handiwork, to breathe in creation with all of its color and variation. We were to to see His beauty in the seasons, a rainbow, to feel the course of nature.
Relationships were to be slowly simmering through seasons of shared time, work, love, seasons and years, with a knowledge that people would be in our lives endlessly through our whole lives without ever moving to another location.
God intended that we have time to sit and ponder mysteries of the universe, to have to work out our thoughts, to have time to work and read and create food and gardens and the works of our hands. He longed for us to seek Him, His presence, His relationship to us as God and savior, to fill in our hearts’ needs.
God intended that we have real lovers, loyal, present friends, who would be here for us to celebrate life’s daily moments and the tragedies and momentous occasions.
However, contemporary culture has forgotten these realities.
Perhaps, on the internet, we build up a couple of thousand of friends–that does not mean they know us, our real lives, our silent aches of heart, our loneliness, our dreams, insecurities, needs or doubts, or love us. Often it just means, they, too, are trying to build their list. Our social networking friends cannot bring us a hot, delicious meal or a fall bouquet of blooming flowers when we are sick or depressed or just need to know we are on someone’s mind.
Our social media friends cannot hold our hand or give us a gentle embrace, when we pray through a heartbreak or sit and drink a real cup of tea on the porch as we watch a fall sun melt into the sky, and share secrets. Our social media friends are not here to touch, see, experience, giggle, to validate the memories of real life.
Our children also long for us to see them as the important ones–they long for our words of love and laughter at their jokes and engaging in their hearts and attention. Our children are only with us for a window of time, to receive our attention, loving touch, tasty meals, to celebrate life as we pour into their souls. If we are looking to the internet for our relationships, our children will look for love and attention wherever else they can find it–away from us.
We are their first choice, but they will settle for others if their needs are not met at home with our intentional and present attention.
Suppose, we get lots of comments on our blogs today, or an increasing number of visits. The pressure is on to try to keep that going tomorrow. If we feel good when people respond, must we feel bad about ourselves if they don’t leave a comment? If we are one of the most popular blogs or web sites today, eventually there will be a “cuter girl on the block”, where people will search for something more, something new, leaving us longing for the same affirmation and love we sought in the beginning.
I think that many young women become addicted to social media and neglect their families and children out of a God given desire to be loved, to have friends who care, to feel a sense of importance–to push away the feeling that we are invisible in this world of ours. The desire to be loved and known and validated is God-given. Yet, He intended for us to have real community where we are loved and have a place to fit with family–cousins, grandparents, parents, siblings. For thousands of years, neighbors were to be those who knew you your whole life, who were there for you in the tragedies and celebrations of life. Purpose and meaning came out of relating and giving of ourselves to a community of people called to live, serve and validate the meaning of life together, to preserve righteousness in the presence of our children as a common group of people who loved and served God together.
Now, we live in an isolationist culture where we move from place to place, seldom knowing our neighbors; go to mega-churches where it is possible to be personally, intimately unknown in our inner-life needs or desires. Often grandparents and siblings have different values, live half-way around the world, or are of no support at all–many who have been separated from us through divorce.
So, we seek to replace that which God intended to be real and present, with something–anything–that can help us to “feel” connected, loved, validated.
So, social media can spend a summer by our side, but might be gone when autumn comes. A fickle boyfriend–here today, gone tomorrow. Just a thought for today.