August 17, 2010
A Place of True Belonging
"Do not forsake your friend and the friend of your father, and do not go to your brother's house when disaster strikes you -- better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away."
Proverbs 27:10 (NIV)
As we sat around the table with the sun setting behind us, I breathed a deep sigh of contentment. The faces of my dear friends glowed in the fading light, and our voices were low and intimate. The conversation had turned to matters buried deep in our hearts; laughter pealed, tears were shed and our faces reflected concern and caring as the conversation ebbed and flowed. With darkness deepening around us, we reluctantly stood, said our good-byes and returned to our waiting families and beds.
Pulling the quilt up to my chin that night, I thought, "There's nothing on Facebook as good as that."
Please don't get me wrong. I love the social networking craze as much as anyone. I've enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, staying connected to friends I meet as I travel and connecting to my children in new and fun ways. It's entertaining and enjoyable. It's fascinating and engaging. It's educational and inspiring. It's not a place that I intend to abandon, but it's a place that I need to recognize for what it is and what it isn't. One thing that it's not is a place of true belonging.
Facebook is just one vehicle for social networking, but since it's my favorite, I decided to do a little investigating. From its inception in 2004, Facebook has grown from 1 million users to an astounding 103 million US users by the beginning of 2010. During 2009 alone, it had a growth rate of a whopping 145%! And it's not just for kids any more. The 35-54 years old demographic is now the largest population of users with women leading the pack. Amazingly, it's the 55+ group that is growing the fastest at a rate of 923% growth in 2009.
Wow! I've been wondering about the cause of the overwhelming growth in social networking. I haven't studied it in-depth, but I have some ideas of my own. Our culture has become increasingly insulating over time. Everything from industrialization when families began to move away from family farms, to air conditioning which drives us off our front porches and inside our cool homes, has made it more challenging to find a place of true belonging. Instead of joining churches for a lifetime, we're either moving to another town or another church. Instead of walking next door to ask our grandmothers for parenting advice, we're turning on our TVs or opening a book. Instead of meals around tables in our home, we're driving thru and eating on the way to the next activity.
If this sounds scathing, please excuse me. I'm writing with a broken heart out of my own experience. I am that woman. I'm a woman who has turned inward and turned on my computer instead of outward with open arms and an open life. I'm a woman who has settled for "friending" instead of friends because of some recent hurts. It's easier "out there" instead of close by, isn't it?
I was reflecting one day about the time and space into which Jesus was born. God could have sent Jesus into any time of His choosing. Why didn't He send Jesus during our day? Surely using television and internet would have been a more effective way to get the Word out. I confess that I don't know exactly why God sent Jesus into a day and age with no telephones, television or internet, but maybe, just maybe, His choice of time sends us a message. Jesus chose deep relationships as the way to transmit His message forward in time until He comes again.
He was the one who created us in His own image with an inescapable need for face-to-face, heart-to-heart relationship. Maybe a place of true belonging with God and others is the only way to satisfy the longings of our souls.
Dear Lord, I know that in You I will find a place of true belonging. Help me to build that relationship with others too. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Examine how you spend your time. Is the majority of your time being invested in face-to-face relationship with friends and family?
Pay attention to your true feelings after interactions on the computer or in person. In the end, is the interaction fulfilling or hollow?
Where do I find my place of belonging?
Is the belonging that I feel true or artificial?
Proverbs 17:17, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." (NIV)
Romans 12:5, "...so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (NIV)
© 2010 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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