Complacent Confession

I have a confession. It’s something I’m not proud of. I haven’t failed to be critical of others, but I have come to the conclusion that I’m the one with the problem. I have all these frustrations with our culture. I want to change the world. But, I’m not willing to change myself. I am complacent.

Complacency is defined as “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder.” I’ve found that I’ve settled into the cycle of complacency and it’s something that has snuck up on me. I didn’t realize it’s a problem in my own life until just recently, when I was willing to admit it to myself through self-reflection. It’s something I easily point out in others, but this time I’ve realized that the only direction my finger can point right now is in my direction. It starts with me. So often I think, “Man. I just want people to get this,” or, “Wow, wouldn’t our world be better if everyone did that?” I see all these things I want to change in this world, yet find that I’m unwilling to change myself.

I find that as I sit in church on Sunday mornings, listening to the sermons and thinking to myself, “Okay, this is the week that things will change.” Yet, another week goes by and by the time Sunday comes around again, I realize I didn’t make the changes I was hoping I would. I hadn’t spent more time in prayer, I didn’t read my bible more and I didn’t have many meaningful conversations. I haven’t been willing to put in the work.

So often, I allow excuses override my desire to commit.

I recently read a book by Eugene Cho called Overrated. The main question on the cover asks; Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world? I had to sit with this question. It’s challenged me to stop and think about what I’m actually doing. Eugene points out that our generation, according to statistics, shows more desire to make a difference than any other generation. Are we going to be the generation to reach this potential? Or are we an overrated one that is all talk and little to no action?

Through social media and the ability to connect with hundreds and thousands of people, we often think that we are making a larger impact than we actually are. We may retweet an article about injustice or post a Facebook status about how we volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. We do these things thinking it will make a difference. We do these things and feel like we did something good for the world. But is it truly requiring much sacrifice from us? Is it enough to make a difference? Or should we be doing more?

Now, I’m not saying that posting articles about social issues or going out into the community and volunteering is bad. In fact, I encourage those things. However, I believe it’s dangerous to just stop there and accept that as your one and only contribution. When Jesus calls us to follow him, he’s not asking for just something, he’s asking for everything. I’m preaching to myself here too because I’m realizing that there are areas in my life where I need to be sacrificing more. I need to be willing to commit more to God; to purse the passions and gifts that he has given me. I keep claiming the things I need to be doing more of, but then fail to follow through with doing them.

So, here is my confession to settling into this complacent culture. Feel free to hold me accountable to never settling and to pray for me to be motivated to work towards my calling.

Last year, someone prophesied that I was called to be the change this culture needs. God is calling me to step up and that I have a voice. It’s a long story that I will tell another time, but notice the words carefully. I’m called to be the change. Not promote the change, not talk about or write about the change. I need to be the change. It starts with the willingness and commitment to changing myself. So here’s my confession to being complacent and a public commitment to begin changing that.

How Are You, Really?

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How are you? Let me guess. “Good?

Well, what if you’re not good? Are you going to say it?

When we ask people how they’re doing, are we prepared for them to say something other than good?

Lately I’ve been bothered by how we don’t even take the time to really answer this question. Part of me wonders if we even know how to answer it. Do we take the time to stop and think about how we are actually doing throughout our day? I find myself so busy that I get caught off guard when someone asks me how I’m doing. I honestly don’t even know how to respond most of the time. My first thought is, do they actually want to know how I’m doing? Because if I’m going to be honest, I don’t want to be judged for it. My second thought is, do I even know how I’m doing? If I truthfully answer this question, it’ll take a moment for me to know how to respond. Maybe it’s that moment of our time that not many of us are willing to give.

I wouldn’t say that we don’t want to be real. I think that we have forgotten how to be real. We may have even forgotten what is real. I know I find myself struggling with all this and I sometimes wonder if it bothers others as much as it bothers me.

Maybe we’re trying to keep up with what our profiles are saying. Our Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat stories are painting a portrait of a perfectly happy self. I think there’s this idea in our heads that everything has to be good, or better than it is. It seems like we live in a comparative culture and everyone is working to highlight their lives, not showing what’s really going on.

Maybe we don’t want to be known as a negative person. We don’t want to burden others with what we are actually struggling with. Crazy thoughts in our heads may be saying, “I’m feeling depressed or I’m having a bad day, but everyone else around me seems fine so maybe theres something wrong with just me. It’s not worth sharing.” We believe these lies that we aren’t allowed to say what’s really going on.

Maybe we just don’t take the time to do so. I’m especially guilty of this one. People will ask me how I’m doing in passing and all I have time to say is “good” and by the time I get the words out, they’re half way down the hall. It frustrates me because I feel like if you don’t care, then don’t ask. It goes both ways though. Sometimes when I ask people how they are doing, I don’t even give them enough time to think about it and respond. I’m realizing it’s time to change this habit because who am I to get upset about something I catch myself doing too?

I’m not buying into this whole “everyone is always good” phenomenon.

I’m sick of this fake “good” and I want to start thinking intentionally about how to be more real. It’s time to learn what is real and how to be that. If you’re actually good, say what is good! If you’re not doing well, say what’s really going on with you! Let’s encourage one another to take off our masks, stop trying to put on a face and lets talk about what really matters.

We need to be freed from living a surface-level life. The only way we can overcome the darkness in our lives is if we bring it to the light. What is kept in the dark will continue to have power over us. If you’ve got a lot to praise about, don’t hold back. Share what God is doing in your life! By holding things in, we are feeding into this fake culture. We can’t just continue to hide behind shallow responses. We need to start caring. We need to start loving. We need to give people the time of day.

How great would it be if, when we asked how people are, we actually cared about the responses?

It starts with you.

How are you, really?

Confessions of a Fakebook User

Last year I decided to fall off the face of the earth.

I deactivated my Facebook and it was the most freeing thing I have ever done. I handed my password over to my roommate and told her she couldn’t give it back to me until I moved out. No one knew what was going on in my life. No one could know unless they actually saw me in person and have this thing called a conversation, which people need to relearn how to have. Not only were people clueless about my life, but I had no idea what was going on in theirs. You would think this is a bad thing, but It really isn’t. Having conversations and catching up with people in real life, without checking their Facebook page, is a good thing.

I went without Facebook for the semester and I reactivated it two days before I left for Costa Rica, where I spent four months living with a host family and studying at a university. Every part of me wishes I could go back and just not post my experiences from while I was living there.

On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, I kept getting comments and likes from my “friends” and when I got back from my trip people asked me about it expecting to hear about how great it was. I would expect that kind of answer too based on my social media. People were taken by surprise when I’d tell them how it actually was. I told them what happened between the highlights and they were caught off guard. I will tell you right now that my time in Costa Rica was far more difficult and not nearly as enjoyable as my Facebook page made it seem. I experienced and saw much more than I can even comprehend. I am still processing that trip, which was one of the most challenging experience of my life. My Facebook was Fakebook. It told a different story.

For anyone who knows me, they know that this past year has broken me down in more ways than one. One of my greatest convictions has been social media, specifically Facebook. I allowed my use of Facebook to impact me and have power over me. I found myself struggling. I saw my life as a distortion of lies. I didn’t start to see things clearly until I took a step back. After doing so, I was able to reflect and realize a number of things.

Facebook was my Idol. I wish I could add up the number of times I’ve turned to Facebook instead of God. I found myself more likely to start my day on Facebook rather than talking with the Lord. After experiencing a detachment from Facebook, I became more attached to God and less to my profile. When I am by myself, the first thing I turn to isn’t my Facebook page.  I’ve been learning that it’s Him I need to seek first. This isn’t rocket science when it comes to the Christian faith, but it’s important to think about what’s keeping us from putting Him first. For me personally, I allowed Facebook to distract me from my relationship with God. I let it replace Him. I can tell you right now that because I’ve refocused my life, Facebook is no longer my idol.

I made an idol out of myself. Not only was Facebook an Idol, but through it I was making myself an Idol. I did this by highlighting my life and making it seem greater than it actually is. I would only post pictures and statuses that made me seem as though I am the greatest thing since sliced bread. Although I am a pretty great person and you should get to know me, my Facebook only showed the good things. It was modified to show people what I wanted them to see. How are we supposed to share what’s really going on? We don’t want to highlight the things in our lives that make us look bad; we want to look as though we have it all together. I wanted to have control and I was believing lies about myself. I was looking to Facebook to try and shape who I was rather than allowing God to define me.

I couldn’t just live in the moment. I was focusing more on taking pictures. Every moment had to be shared. Whether it be a day with friends, a sunset or a plate of food, I had to take a picture of it because I wanted to remember and share it. It had to be captured. Whenever I was doing something with friends, I couldn’t leave without proof that I was hanging out with people. That way I could show the world that I am social. I have a life, a good life. I would compare my profile to others and do what I could to make mine better. I wanted to generate more likes because that’s all that matters, right? How ridiculous is that? Am I crazy for thinking this way, or are there others out there who catch themselves comparing their lives too? I just couldn’t take it anymore and since I stepped back my mind has been much more present. I don’t care about my profile or my pictures any longer.

Facebook took up way more time than I want to admit. I wish I could take back the hours and days I’ve spent scrolling and clicking through Facebook. I know I am not the only one who has wasted more time than I’m willing to admit. Scrolling through the newsfeed is distracting from reality and it is addicting. I would log onto my account to check something “important” such as a message or an event date. Instead, though, the first thing I would do is click that attractive little red flag in the top right corner. I was a stalker. I was completely addicted. After I spent over an hour scrolling through a dozen profiles and commenting on posts, I would try to remember why I logged on in the first place. I’d then feel guilty over how much I could have actually done in the time I had just wasted on Facebook. I claimed I was using it to keep in contact with people and to know events, but it was taking me away from living my life. We tend to use Facebook for so much more than we say we do.

The more time I spent on Facebook the more depressed I’d get. This was a defining realization in my time from Facebook. As I detached myself from my profile, I honestly saw myself becoming happier. Before, when I was attached to my account, I found myself spending more time alone and on Facebook feeling bad about the things my friends were doing that I wasn’t. Seriously, how dumb is that? I literally spent my time staring at a screen feeling bad for myself even if I had just gotten done hanging out with other friends. That should be a wakeup call. I’m embarrassed about this one but hey, I’m willing to admit it and because I am set free I am not ashamed anymore. Social media will only have power over your happiness if you allow it to.

I was becoming lazy in my friendships. Whenever I would think about one of my friends and wonder how they are doing, the first thing I would do would check out their profile. It’s was so much more convenient than calling a friend up and telling them that you miss them. Isn’t that sad? I would hardly go out of my way to contact my friends because their Facebook updates told me everything that was new. Facebook makes “friendships” easy but are they even real? I much rather prefer to spend time with my friends in person. I prefer to keep most of my pictures off social media and share them in person. It’s nice to actually talk about my experiences with people when I catch up with them. Has there ever been a time where you started telling a story and then one of your friends says, “oh yeah I remember seeing that on Facebook?” Well then what’s the point? We let social media be social for us.

My “friends” didn’t really know me. People had this belief that they knew me because they were my friend on Facebook. My profile had thousands of pictures from since I was in 7th grade, which I can tell you was quite fun to stalk. Yet, it really started to creep me out after a while because people could know so much about me without even really knowing me that well. I remember this specific time when I met someone on campus and introduced myself. He claimed he already knew me because we were friends on Facebook. Weird. We have never had a conversation in real life, why the heck were we “friends” on Facebook? I got into the habit of accepting every friend request that came my way because I felt popular. I mean, I had well over 2,000 friends. But were they all my friends? Did they even know me? Now I won’t be friends with people unless I have an actual friendship with them. People now have to go out of their way get to know me in person. If you want to know me you have to get to know me. You can’t just click “add friend” in order to be my friend.

The list goes on, but basically I couldn’t live with my Fakebook profile anymore. I couldn’t keep living a Fakebook life. I was sick and tired of highlighting my life and not living in the moments. I still want to be available to people, but I am trying to learn how to do so without getting sucked into the same routine.  I’m debating if I want to even post this blog post on my profile. I feel that convicted. After realizing all these convictions, my biggest question is what am I going to do about it?

I created this new Facebook page, and before you judge me, this time it’s different. I have a very simple page with just a cover photo and profile picture. That’s it. I try and keep my Facebook wall blank. There’s pretty much no information about me on my profile. I don’t post photos, when people tag me in photos I don’t accept them on my wall. I have this account for people to contact me, that’s pretty much all. I’m not trying to highlight myself any longer.

Honestly, I don’t even use Facebook much anymore and there’s a pretty good chance I get rid of it again. I don’t have all the answers to life or how to live perfectly. You don’t have to get rid of Facebook in order to live a better life. This is just something I’ve been doing because I realized I was abusing Facebook. I want to spend my life living, not hiding behind a screen and letting my life be consumed. I prefer to live in the present in the moments that matter with the people who matter.

Not everyone struggles with Facebook to the extremes that I have. If you’ve actually read through this post, I challenge you to think about how you use social media. Do you take time to get to know someone before you friend them on Facebook? A lot of us need to relearn how to be social instead of letting media do it for us. Sometimes it’s nice to just disappear for a while (deactivating your Facebook isn’t permanent). You don’t have to go to the extremes like I did, but I would recommend making necessary changes if you’ve had some struggles of your own with Facebook. Just be aware of how you are using your social media. Do you tend to build up yourself rather than others?

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Why am I Here?

I am at a point where I question everything. This past semester I’ve had some crazy thoughts pass through my head. Anything from dropping out of school and being a missionary to joining the army. Heck, moving to Canada and just living in the mountains sounds good to me. For some reason, I just feel trapped here and that I need to be doing something more, something bigger than this pattern of living. I’ve settled into the culture of the norm. After taking a step back, I’m starting to wonder what I’m doing. I don’t want to be like everyone else.

I feel like the majority here is chasing the “American dream.” Your typical life that entails going to college, pursing a degree, finding your “special someone” while in school, graduating, getting married and starting a family. But then, the real world kicks in. You have bills to pay, life to stress about, a job that you’re stuck with and whether or not you like it you need it because you have debt to pay. It can lead into a selfish and depressed life. There’s no wonder why over 18% of U.S. Americans 18 and older are struggling with anxiety and depression disorders. In the midst of this “American dream” something is lost and that is meaning. What is the point to it all? What are we pursing and what are our motives? When I talk with my friends here, I like to try and see what it is that drives them. Why are they here? What are they hoping to accomplish?

There’s a good amount of people here who are getting a degree just to get a degree. I find that many people aren’t passionate about what they’re studying. In fact, I hear many people complaining about what they’re studying but they’re doing it for the same reason as everyone else: to meet expectations. It is expected that everyone gets a degree. It is expected that everyone finishes college and then goes out into the workforce and gets a job to make a lot of money. How did we get to this point? Since when did wealth become our motive? Why am I here? Culture and expectations are literally controlling my life. If it wasn’t expected for me to be in school, if I didn’t feel this pressure to be here would I? That’s a question I’m not sure I can answer yet.

Why am I in school? I think it’s not a bad question to ask ourselves. Now I’m not trying to say that school is a bad thing. It’s a great and necessary thing, but I do believe that if we are doing it simply because our culture tells us that we need to, then we are missing the point. There needs to be passion behind what we are doing. We are only given one life to live and to waste it pursuing nothing more than success measured by how much money is being made is completely missing the point.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter”-Francis Chan.

Think about it. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you going to settle for just an ordinary life when you were made to be extraordinary. There is not one person out there who is exactly like you and only you are capable of the life that you are living. For the year an a half that I’ve been studying at this university, I have learned more about myself than I ever even knew was possible. This is such a unique time in my life and I am trying to live it up and soak in every minute of it. Life as we know it is said to be short, so if you’re in school and pursuing a degree, it’s important to take a step back and think about what your are hoping to accomplish. Are you passionate about what you’re studying?

My biggest fear for my own life is that I am going to get my degree and then be stuck with a job that I am not passionate about and then end up hating what I am doing. This semester has been full of ups and downs and the questioning of life. It’s thrilling, yet repetitive. The cycle never ends in my head. Some days I feel like I’m doing it right. Like when I get a perfect score on my exam. There are other days where I feel convicted. I feel like I’m living selfishly here. I feel like I need to be doing more with my time than pursue a selfish life. I have the privilege of knowing who Jesus is, why the heck am I not going out and sharing the good news with every person around me?

I know that I have a passion for God and that’s what I want to be sharing with people. Is a degree in communication going to help me with that? I like to think it will, but it’s still something I’m questioning. Right now I feel as though being here is holding me back. So, given where I’m at right now, I feel like I am just about ready for my semester abroad. It’s going to be a great way to get out, see the world, indulge in a new culture and all the other typical cliches you hear about people who have gone out and explored this earth. Blah Blah Blah. I can hear all about it, but experiencing it will be completely different. I’m hungry for something new. I’m hungry to gain a new perspective on things. Right now, I need nothing more than to be expanding my mind and to stop questioning what I’m doing and start doing. The fact that I’ve had so much time on my hands to question things has held me back from actually doing them. So getting out for a while will be a good thing for me. Who knows where I’ll be when I get back. Maybe I’ll be a better person, maybe not. I don’t have any idea what to expect. But maybe having no idea what to expect is a good thing. Maybe expectations only hold us back.

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