Confessions of a Facebook Stalker
Confession: I’m a Facebook stalker. I’m that nosy person who wants to catch up on all the goings on of my friends’ lives, look at the adorable photos of their kids (or lunch), read the funny things their spouse/significant other says. I guess it helps me feel connected to the people I love even when we’re far away.
I’m not, by nature, good at connecting with people. I don’t know how to make the effort. I’m a socially-awkward Only Child who’s easily embarrassed, and, despite years of training myself otherwise, quite the introvert. Yet I love deeply and with much loyalty, even when miles and time separate me from the people I care about. It might be easy to mistake my poor connection skills as a lack of caring, but I assure you it isn’t.
It’s because of this that I find myself so fascinated by the amazing group of people God has placed in my life. In every season, there have been people who challenged and inspired me to be more than I am, to be the woman God calls me to be. I am fascinated by their strength in the midst of their difficulties. I am blessed by their genuine, grace-filled joy. I am amazed at the places they’ve been in the name of Jesus.
The problem with this is that I find myself comparing my story with theirs. By contrast, my life seems so lacking–in grace, in goodness, in adventure, in authority. But as I think more about it, I bet you $5 that if you asked any of my friends, they would say the same thing about their own lives. We all have the tendency to take the worst parts of our story and compare it to the best parts of others’, without stopping to consider the parts of the story we don’t see–the doubts, the hurts, the loneliness, the uncertainty.
I have always had an issue with comparing my circumstances to the circumstances of others, in an effort, I think to figure out why my life isn’t the way I want it. In high school, it was “Why does she get the cute boyfriend when I clearly am more godly than she is?” (Looking back, the question answers itself.) In college, it was “Why can’t I have a voice like hers?” In my adulthood, it’s been, “Why do they get the shiny gig?” and “How did they get Happily Ever After when I can’t?” I don’t begrudge my friends anything, I just want an invitation to their party, too.
I was challenged in this area this weekend by an Easter message from Pastor Jeff Vines at Christ’s Church of the Valley. He was teaching on the story of the Prodigal Son, and talking about how there are actually two prodigals in the story. The younger son, of course, but also the older son. Both sons, ultimately, were far from the Father, and both of them only wanted the Father because of what he could provide for them. Jeff asked the question: “Do we love God because of what He can do for us, or do we simply love God?”
Wrestle with this question for a while: Do you love God because of what you think He can do for you, or do you just love Him?
After thinking it over for a while, I came to this conclusion: I love God. I love Him not just because of what He’s done, but because He’s worthy of my love and affection. I love Him because of the little things I learn about Him every day. Each day that I walk with Him is a day I learn more about His nature and character, and it’s a day that I feel His love for me more and more. I love Him because my heart responds to His in a way I can’t quite put words to. But the sad truth is that sometimes I do expect God to do things for me because I’m a good girl and deserve it.
I’m not a good girl. I don’t deserve it. It’s only because of Jesus’ sacrifice that God sees me as clean, certainly not because of any “good” I’ve done, but I’ve tricked myself into thinking that if I follow all the rules, God has to give me what I want. Slowly, God is freeing me from the idea (and burden) of having to do everything right so that He’ll bless me. It’s a slow process because I have a thick head and an even thicker heart. By saying that I have to do everything just right so that I can get what I want, I do two things. First, I tell God that His only value to me is what blessings He can provide; and second, I make myself God’s boss.
I don’t want to be God’s boss, and I don’t want to tell God that the cross wasn’t enough for me. I don’t want God’s free gift of grace to be good enough for everyone else but me. I desperately need God’s grace for myself. So I’m confessing this sinful pattern of thoughts because James 5:16 says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”(MSG)
The amazing thing about God’s grace is that it’s given when we least deserve it, and I’ve seen that in my own life time and time again. I am so grateful that I love a forgiving, gracious, compassionate, understanding God who loves and blesses me in spite of my sin. He takes me where I am and pushes me (sometimes kicking and screaming) to be the woman I’m called and destined to be.
Father, help me to be content with where I am in this life You’ve called me to. Show me, in Your ever compassionate way, when I’m seeking after what You can provide, and not seeking after You. Compel my heart to repentance, and change my way of thinking so that I’m never tempted to settle for less than Your will for my life. Please forgive me for being more concerned with what You can do for me than with knowing You. Thank You for Your mercies that are new every morning. Oh, how I need You, Lord. I love You. The desires of my heart are nothing if You’re not in them, so I will trust in Your timing and provision. Thank You, Lord, for being aware of my heart and for being kind to me in my sin. In the name of Jesus, the lover of my soul, I pray, Amen.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. -1 Timothy 6:6-16