It may come to a surprise to some, and not to others, that I am a social media junkie. For many people who are shut in, social media can create an important sense of contact and engagement with the outside world. Certainly that was the case for myself, when on October 17th 2007 my world as I knew it came crashing down around my ears.On that day I collapsed at work, paralyzed on the right side, had a high temp around 40 degrees Celsius and was hospitalized for the next 52 days. There I was to learn to walk, talk and do things that I had normally taken for granted. My time in hospital and upon was a mixture of pain and joy.
I was to be later diagnosed three separate times as having Multiple Sclerosis and was three times later told that I didn’t. (The first time was in the morning 2 hours before I was to sit my major Greek exam) Needless to say I didn’t perform very well in that exam, having the doctors diagnosis echoing between my ears. Eventually they came up with the diagnosis that I suffered an acute form of viral encephalitis. When I was released from hospital, I needed to go shopping in a wheel chair. I needed a shower chair to shower in. And I was to go through a darker time of abuse, a time which you can read more about here.
However I digress. Social media in all its forms became an important part of my life. While I was housebound it allowed me to engage and have contact with the outside world. Not only was I able to be encouraged; I was also able to encourage others. Over the years I have made some very close friends from those I first met online. And I was later to meet the woman who was to become my wife through Face Book.
Social media become a ministry tool. One where I was to develop online friendships and friends with other students, scholars, pastors, and those interested in sharing their life. In many ways social media became a methodology of learning. One where a variety of scholars would blog their interests, current thoughts and teachings on a variety of subjects. On that note, I too was able to contribute by blogging my own thoughts, research, life experiences and ideas. But more importantly then the ideas that were imparted – it was the sense of getting to know people behind the cyberspace facade that was more important.
When others shared of their pain, I was able to encourage and pray. Social media become a platform to engage in life with others. To speak life into others. To hear the pain of others and to take those people to the throne room of heaven and lift them to the Lord. It become a frontier where I was able to share the grace of Christ, to talk about Christ and one that I can acknowledge the Lord used as a vessel to cause others to come and know him as their personal savior.
BUT. Social media also has its downside. I have an addictive personality. I can’t help myself. I am always scrolling through my feed wondering what will come next. I’m always happy to get involved in the conversation about climate change. Church. Global disasters. Wars, wars, and rumors of wars. And a plethora of other stuff that in and of itself maybe not bad; but, overall becomes consuming.
Those who know me well, know that I am a complex, yet simple person. I enjoy a joke. Indeed one wag recently told me I had a wicked sense of humor. There are times I like to play the devils advocate. There are times I like to stir the pot. There are times when I want to cry and be serious. But, overall, the cry of my heart is to be an encourager in the service of the Lord.
Recent times have seen me becoming more critical then I like. I’m becoming miffed at those I disagree with, even angry. The overload of images of war and terrorism has impacted my soul. The fear of terrorism on our soil and the confusion of working through the issues of moderate / radical Islam here in our own country has an impact. Both on myself, family and those I engage life with. I have seen images, watched videos which I wish I never laid eyes on. I hear on one hand the voices of moderate Muslims speaking out about their own understanding – yet watch videos of their preachers (Even here in Australia) saying and encouraging things which the moderates claim they don’t believe. Social media is echoing and reflecting the mess that the world is in. Then there is the stuff about climate change. The world is going to end, the alarmists tell us. The world is going to end the religious tell us. The world is going to end the war haters and mongerers tell us.
I’m seeing unprecedented conversations of racism, hatred, fear, extremism, pain, heartache and criticism which is interspersed with times of joy, happiness, encouragement, Godliness and prayer fullness. And I am tired. Bone weary, soul weary tired.
I am hearing the Lord whisper to my soul. “Craig, come to me, for my yoke is easy, my burden is light! Come to me, for you are overloaded with the cares and worries of the world – come and spend time with me.”
So for a period of time, I am deactivating my Facebook account. I am going to fast from cyberspace overload. During this time I will still be contactable via email, phone and face to face conversations. And during this time, I will still be praying for you all. Blessings. Craig B.