Thursday, February 20, 2014

IF: Gathering. The Nitty Gritty (part 1).

After typing my fluffy post about the IF:Gathering, I've been munching on notes and re-listening to some of the talks. And I've sat down to write a post about some of the deep details, the nuggets that I walked away with, and here's the deal. I feel as though there may never been words that adequately describe what I feel. Like, words fail to fully draw out what God moved in me. I feel like I walked away with so many "ah-hah" moments, but that none of them really connect for me yet in regards to a plan of action (well, one does and I am working on that post as well) or a specific topic for a blog post. And so I've sat and not written anything. Which is a CRYING SHAME because this cannot be kept inside. So, I've decided to put aside my type-A personality that wants everything to be structured and orderly, and just let words flow. There is no rhyme or reason in what I am about to pen, just the things that I walked out of the local IF:Gathering I participated saying "YES! THIS!"

I feel like I should take a few steps back before I dive right into this and tell you about something that had been on my heart several weeks prior to IF. So here's the deal. Y'all know that I am an avid social media lover. I have met some of the most awesome people, I think it can be a great encouragement for this stage of life, and it's also an invaluable resource when you have questions about potty training, how many bottles your kid needs or any other important questions that you need answered in about 2 seconds from people around the globe. That being said, I'm also sick of social media. And here's why: I feel like instead of using what should be an amazing tool to build people up, to encourage others and to help other people out, it is used to cut people down, to degrade individuals and to create divisiveness. This is a problem. And it breaks my heart to see what could be used as a great tool, instead be used to destroy and tear down.

I want to be clear: I'm not pointing fingers. This isn't me talking on a 10 foot pedestal saying that I have it all together. Which is exactly why I hadn't written about it on my blog, even though my heart was aching with the reality of the online world that we live in and the disunity I have felt recently. So, there's that tidbit. Here's where IF came in for making things more real to me.

"There are no better or worse people-- there are only God-made souls."
When Ann Voskamp spoke those words, my heart lit up. I connected the dots between what I had been churning over. Every person, every avatar I see online, every blog I read... is someone precious to God. Set aside our differences... their soul is just as valuable as someone who seems very much put together. "Girls can impale each other [with the ruler of comparison], [but] the sisterhood of women champion each other." (Ann Voskamp). Why am I comparing myself, both negatively and/or positively to the ones that are around me? Isn't that what Satan wants? To make me either feel (a) better than someone else, and disregard someone because "apparently I have my stuff together a lot better than someone else" or (b) feel so crappy about myself because "I DON'T have my stuff altogether and blog/twitter/facebook friend xyz really does have it altogether and they take awesome selfies with their husbands, and surely they never yell at their kids"... see that... see where that all goes?

I sometimes wonder, what if we all chose to find the good in those around us... not just in our real lives, but our online ones as well? What if we chose to not pick apart how someone looked, how someone parented, how someone ate, how someone did or didn't make a bento box lunch or craft the latest and greatest Pinterest inspired DIY project.... What if we decided to see people through the eyes of Jesus, who sees each person as a soul, a soul who is either already saved by His grace or, perhaps, a soul who is not yet saved and is desperately seeking to see and hear and smell that fresh breath of air that can only come from someone who is willing to lay aside all other things and to be a Jesus representative (thank you Jen Hatmaker for that little title-- LOVE it)? What if we took Ephesians 4:32 (Be kind to one another, tenderhearted....), 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (Be kind to one another and build each other up...), or how about John 13:34-35 (A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”)... what if we took all of these for face value, and actually put into practice, what Jesus commanded us to do? You guys. Jesus loves us in light of all of the crappy things about us. What if we decided to overlook someones apparent (or perhaps not so apparent) flaws and just love them BECAUSE. This. This is my pondering lately. I'm not sure I have a solution for the issues that our generation faces with the doubled edged sword of social media. Avoiding it altogether doesn't seem like a solution, yet deciding to overlook the glaring issue isn't really helping anything either. I just know that I no longer want to be a part of the problem. And I desperately hope and wish for a day when we can all lay our differences aside and run more strongly united for the greater cause of Jesus. Because wasting our time on tearing each other down is helping no one, and hurting everyone.

Hopefully that all made sense and wasn't just a great big mess. I tend to be a blubbering fool when I have something heavy on my heart that I want to write about (I'm blaming Satan for the lack of clarity with words in those times-- Lord knows that devil would like nothing more than for me to be mute.). I think when it all boils down to it, as a whole during the conference, I sat back and looked at the bigger picture. All walks of faith and denominations. Coming together for one cause. Setting aside differences to be stronger. Unity. For the cause of Christ. (More posts from IF to come. I thought this post would encompass more but it turns out apparently unity was a bigger theme that hit more more than I initially thought....)

Lastly, I'm going to leave you with my verse for the year with my social media. Before I post anything, I try to remember this verse:
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. ~Proverbs 29:20

PS-- if you missed IF (or even if you didn't!), they are going to be selling the digital download of the conference online. You can find out more by clicking HERE.

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