Last Sunday night I cried. It was more like a small tantrum. At the end of it, I couldn’t breathe out of my nose, I was too tired to stay up, and too distraught to go to sleep. In a word, I was a mess! The next morning, I got up early and prayed, went back to sleep and woke up to a text message that had the potential to resolve everything I cried about the night before. A few days later, more of my prayer materialized and I immediately prepared to tell Facebook. This happens to me quite often, but this time I knew no one would understand the weight of this miracle without knowing the details. Without knowing about my breakdown Sunday night. Without knowing about my constant worries over the past few months. Without knowing the anxiety I carried and casted away, just to pick up and carry again. How would I effectively communicate the miracle, if I didn’t effectively communicate the struggle?
What social platforms offer is quite captivating and entertaining, but I often find myself wondering what it all means. Is it really as harmless as it seems? (Note: I know all posts don’t have to be deep and spiritual. Actually, they shouldn’t be! Sometimes you just want the masses to know how delicious your mommas mac ’n cheese really is and you’re free to do that! #nomnom) Is all this posting really “sharing” or “ministry?” Or is it disguised to humblebrag or gain public approval? If we, being storytellers and/or ministers, truly want to engage others, how much more impactful could our lives be if we told the truth?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should tell every gory detail. Wisdom tells us that. However, if we are open to sharing our peaks, we have to be open to sharing our valleys. The nature of social media does not require true relationship and therefore does not allow people to understand the fullness of our stories. So when presented with half truths, people we attempt to inspire are left disillusioned; failing to see real victories are in the journey. The journey of how we held on despite wanting to quit. The journey of how we gave up twice but by God’s grace we’re still here. The journey of how we’re being sustained. These are the posts that have inspired me. These are the posts that minister. They’re intentional. They’re transparent. And they’re posted for reasons that have little to do with “likes” and everything to do with purpose.
So does “social ministry” work? I’d say yes, if we’re aware of it’s danger. We can’t let Youtube subscribers make or break our day. We can’t allow Facebook “likes” to determine if our posts are meaningful. We can’t let Instagram trick us into thinking greatness is achieved without hard work and many trade-offs. But most importantly, we can’t let our eagerness to share overshadow the importance of real relationships, the discernment of knowing when not to share, and the efficacy of spreading hope, love, humor and whole truths.