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?

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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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A Tragic Wakeup Call

Last night was when I found out Zack had committed suicide. Although I wasn’t close with him, my heart just breaks at the thought of it. To think that he left this world with pain and sadness, he let darkness take over. I can’t even believe it.

He was in my youth group at church, and I never really knew him but what if I had? What if I would have taken the time to get to know him? Would I have been friends with him? Would his life have been different? What if someone would have reached out to him? Would that have saved his life? I can’t help but wonder why God didn’t put someone in his life to stop this from happening. Why did God let this happen? Why didn’t anyone see this coming? Did anyone see this coming?

I can’t help but feel heartbroken for those people in his life that were close to him. Especially his girlfriend. I hope and pray that she will somehow grow closer to God through this situation. I don’t understand why God let this happen. A natural response is to get mad, angry at God but all we can do is trust that He will somehow use this for good. I just don’t see it now, but to someone maybe it does make sense.

Based on Facebook, a lot of people are being affected. There are tons of posts, and I hope and pray that others out there are praying too. I called my mom to tell her the news, she’s good friends with his mom and she’s with her today. Does his mom blame herself? I hope not, pray not. Does his girlfriend? I just can’t even imagine. I didn’t know him all that well but his death has affected me.

I can’t stop reflecting on how I’m living my life so obliviously.

Do I do a god job showing other that they are loved?

Some people are harder to love than others, but God loves us all and it is our job to show His love. To let it shine through us. I wonder if there is anyone in my life who is suffering inside just like Zack was. There probably are. They do a great job at hiding it, and you would never know until it’s too late. Just like now, it is too late for Zack. I want God to use me, now, to open my eyes to the people around me and to see where people need loving. No one should go through life feeling unloved. I need to do a better job. I have been failing. It’s so easy to be caught up in you own problems, or you own life, and it’s easy to ignore others around you who are dealing with problems 100 times more serious.

It was interesting scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. Among all of the posts about Zack, I would see posts about how people are stressed about homework or that they are “so hungry” and all sorts of dumb small problems and here we have someone who took his own life because he didn’t see the purpose of  life. He let darkness win. What is the purpose of life, then? Zack just died. His life ended but life here moves on. People that knew him are affected but others simply say, “that sucks” and continue on with their lives. We can’t stop the world from moving on. It’s always moving. Even when my life ends, life beyond mine keeps living. To take another moment and reflect isn’t a bad thing to do. Sitting here and reevaluating life is necessary.

This has been a tragic wakeup call.

Let God use this for God. Let Him change my heart, mind and actions. Life is bigger than you and me. Life is bigger than my problems, grades, friendships. God is life. God comes first. That’s where I need to start. It shouldn’t take a tragic death to realize that, but it has been a wakeup call.”

This was from my journal, written the day after Zack’s suicide. He passed away two years ago and to this day, I can tell you that this has made an enormous impact on my life. The drive and desire to live my life with a purpose, I believe, comes from this tragic death because it really put life into perspective for me. It’s really sad that sometimes it takes a death or something tragic for someone to realize the importance of God and life.

After his death, I became depressed and really hard on myself. Life kept flying by and as time went on, less and less was heard about Zack. It’s a harsh reality when you realize that your life is very small and insignificant compared to this large, fast-paced world. I can tell you right now that since his death, many people have been impacted and Maybe there are many people out there who can relate to this story, maybe there are many out there who are struggling with the death of a friend, loved one, or even just an acquaintance.

My hope and prayer for anyone out there who is suffering is that they will not turn away from God or become bitter with Him. I hope they can evaluate life and how they are living it. We can’t blame ourselves for a tragic death like this one, but rather we need to look forward and think about how we can be living life in a way that reflects God and his purpose for us to love Him and love those around us.

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