Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Thought: My Facebook Life

Today I have a devotion running at Proverbs 31. Thanks to all of you who stop by after reading. On Thursdays at my blog I share something I am thinking about. (See the "About Me" page for a schedule of what I share each day.) Today I am sharing my thoughts on being real versus being encouraging...

I think there's a fine line between sharing the positive side of life so that people are encouraged by what you share, and being real about the tough things you encounter on a daily basis. I find myself walking that line like a tightrope, hovering this way and that, always wondering if I am striking the proper balance. I want to encourage, but I want to be real. If I only say the good things does my life look too perfect, too unobtainable? And yet, if I complain publicly will those of you who come for encouragement be put off, saying of me, "She's so depressing."

I thought about this the other day when I was reading through Facebook statuses. Everyone mostly seems happy on Facebook, probably because of what I am talking about. They want to put their best foot forward. They want to be a ray of sunshine. And yet... they can't all be that happy. They are, after all, living with imperfect husbands and children and friends and extended family. They have rainy days and cars that break down and home appliances that go on the fritz and bad news and disagreements and... you get the picture.

And yet, if you read their Facebook statuses, you usually only see the happy, good moments. This is pretty true with me too. If I do write down something negative I usually try to find the humor, so it looks like "well yes this was not the best but hey, I managed to find humor in it!"

I thought of this one evening when I tweeted/Facebooked about a meal I was serving. If you just took the tweet at face value, you might think that all is well in Whalen world, happy children and parents gathered around a table with smiling faces, ready to enjoy a delicious meal together. That's my Facebook life.

My real life was not that way at all. I was grumpy because I didn't feel like my family appreciated my efforts to make said meal. My husband was quiet because he'd had a bad day. The kids were grousing at each other and not using good manners. And no one wanted to be the one to clean up after dinner. That's my real life.

Which do you want to read about?

I think that we want to believe that somewhere out there, people are living that life we see on Facebook. We need to believe it because it gives us hope that it's possible. And so we follow people on Twitter and friend them on Facebook and read their blogs, hoping that in our connection to them, we can find the secret we're missing so that our lives are happy and perfect and joy-filled.

I will keep trying to strike the balance between what I share and what I hold back, offering glimpses of the life I strive for and being real about the life I end up with. There is no perfection this side of heaven. Yet there's beauty to be found in the reaching for it. And there's camaraderie that happens as we all reach together.
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Karen said...

So true! Keep being real, Marybeth ~ (yet positive and encouraging)!

Melanie said...

It's like you were in my head and heart - I was having these exact same thoughts yesterday. Love the devo too.

Anonymous said...

So true yet if we are not real we minister with our head and not our heart.
Maybe my status this morning will be how I did not sleep all night and, therefore, read a lot of good blogs!

Cheri Bunch said...

I LOVED your devotion today, Marybeth. Cream is the "sugar" in life that "helps the medicine go down". Should I put that on facebook? I love how He uses you to minister! Thank you again for the encouragement!


Deb said...

Sometimes it's a stress reliever to put a funny spin on chaos :)

Katie said...

It shouldn't be a surprise to me...God works in wondrous ways...but I was JUST thinking this last night as I went to husband and I were discussing it. We were on Facebook....not big Facebook fans, but check it once in awhile. We were discussing how strange it is people have 850 friends!!! How relationships/marriages are so temporary today...people just seem to 'venture on to the next', how everyone looks so HAPPY...eluding to their lives seeming so joyful. Party's...famous goes on and on. My life doesn't look like real life is full of frustrations with kids, hard work put into my marriage, too many commitments...housework, etc. But it is also filled with a wonderful husband, hard work being put into a marriage, but worth EVERY minute, 3 beautiful children, a life full with those who I love so very much. A relationship with our Heavenly Father, which I need so desperately. After reading Facebook last night, it left me feeling a bit sad and empty. I woke this morning, really feeling the need to hear Gods Word, and to read my daily Proverbs devotion...which led me to your blog, as always. Thanks for your words this morning...I needed to hear exactly what you wrote! Gods never ceases to amaze me!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a wonderful devotion today... great "food" for thought.

Joy S.

benjyjen said...

I am taking 28 days off from FB and have blogged about this very thing! I always say FB posts are like Christmas letters - 12 months of perfect living! I vote for real with a little humor sprinkled in!

Doris said...

Loved the devotional and this blog post. I struggle with the same balance. I usually post about the fun family times we had, my sweet grands, something new and exciting. But I do get discouraged, life is a bum sometimes! Ho, hum....

On a brighter note, I will take the challenge to leave room for intentional fluff in my life! I will try not to feel guilty. Maybe I will go to the nursing home and volunteer since I really miss the elders. (worked in a NH for many years) I long for some doors to open up again that would bring joy as well as income.... this could be a start.

Enough rambling! Have a great day!

LoryT said...

Have you ever heard the "Rocks & Sand" story? Your leave room for cream blog reminded me of it. Here is the story:

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget. As he stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, "Okay, time for a quiz."

Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on the table in front of him. He then produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, "Is this jar full?"

Everyone in the class said, 'Yes."

Then he said, "Really?" He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the space between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, "Is the jar full?"

By this time the class was on to him. "Probably not," one of them answered.

"Good!" he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all of the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, "Is this jar full?"

"No!" the class shouted.

Once again he said, "Good." Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked at the class and asked, "What is the point of this illustration?"

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, "The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in it!"

"No," the speaker replied, "that's not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all."

What are the 'big rocks' in your life—God, your children; your loved ones; your education; your dreams; a worthy cause; teaching or mentoring others; doing things that you love; time for yourself; your health; your significant other? Remember to put these BIG ROCKS in first or you'll never get them in at all. If you sweat the little stuff (the gravel, the sand), then you'll fill your life with little things you worry about that don't really matter, and you'll never have the real quality time you need to spend on the big, important stuff (the big rocks).

So, tonight, or in the morning, when you are reflecting on this short story, ask yourself this question: What are the 'big rocks' in my life? Then, put those in your jar first. You'll be much happier in the process.

I keep 2 small vases on my desk one with rocks the other with sand. They always remind me of what comes first in life.

God's blessings

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your devotional today. It really spoke to me in words I can relate to.
Elizabeth R
Russellville AR

Kristi Butler said...

Wow, Marybeth!! Great devotional and blog!!! I'm looking forward to some "cream" this weekend as you share with us at Write2Ignite! We will surely enjoy the "sweet"!!! (Come join us readers!

God gave me this verse this morning...."Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes!" 1 Samuel 12:16

TheNormalMiddle said...

I prefer honestly. Really. :)

Sara G said...

Enjoyed the devotional this morning and enjoyed this post! A balance is a must and so is being honest. Facebook.. dear Facebook. I do not miss dear Facebook. I had to let go and remove myself. Facebook became an addiction, an idol and stirred up thoughts that were not good. I'm much happier now. Whew what a relief. As you said, "There is no perfection this side of heaven."

Zibilee said...

Marybeth, I think life is like that. Somethings are good, and some not so good, but what I strive for each day is to give an accurate picture of each day as it comes and to not be a negative Nelly all the time. It can be hard for me, because I tend to be a pessimist, but I also try to take each day as it comes and bless God for all the wonderful things he does in my life everyday. I don't think all those Facebook posts are all that real, and sometimes I just wish people would show me the real person inside. The person who struggles with things, but that also is touched by the joy that life brings. Great post today!

Anonymous said...

Loved your devotional thoughts on Encouragement Today this a.m. As a champion of marriage, I missed any mention of your husband as part of the "cream" of your life.

Grace said...

This is so true!I liked both the devotion and your blog post. I see where I have to make room for the cream in my life. Thank you for sharing from your heart!

Grace said...

The "bright eyed, Pollyanna" approach to everything is a real "downer" for me. I like for people to be real. I'm in my golden years, and everything I read that is written by or targeted to people in my age group seems to promote the idea that growing old is wonderful, happy, exciting and that we are supposed to do it so joyfully! Why don't we get real and admit that a lot of it is a bummer! Why does no one ever speak about the terrors of aging? the uncertainties? the "what-ifs," etc., etc. In small doeses, I think that would be very encouraging!--to know that others share some of my own concerns, that I'm not alone in this odd place in which I find myself! (I know, aging was not what your devotional or this blog is about today. But it's what's on my mind. ~smile~

Brenda said...

I feel the same way! In fact, I don't post a lot of times on Facebook because I'm having a bad day and I feel people may not want to hear about it. I do mention when my kids are sick or something, but I never say if I'm not doing well in my marriage or sad feelings, etc.

MP said...

Thank you. I have a blog I post on occasionally and I tried to always post the postive, but there were a few times I decided to needed to post the honest feelings...but there was still one area I never ventured. An area that quite frankly took me away from the reading of the blog world. It was the area of a perfect best friend aka husband. It seemed every blog I read this person had the most handsome and most perfect husband in the world...their best friend. Quite honestly...I do not and he is not my best friend...but what we married. We are blessed by a God full of grace and mercy. I just recently came back to reading blogs again. I thank you for being honest at least about your feelings. We are not perfect and sometimes I think...that is what non beleivers need to see. Not the dishonest people acting like Christians but Christians acting like honest people.

Anonymous said...

I am more real with my friends in person and am always willing to share the tough stuff of my life but on Facebook, where my boys are my friends, I have to draw the line to respect their privacy.