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Thank You, Facebook

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I met Facebook through my younger sister. She started college in 2005—when it was only open to college and university students—and we had a few late-night looks at the pages of her high school friends. It was fun, but at the same time, I was relieved I didn’t have to decide whether or not to join myself because I wasn’t wanted … yet. Fast forward a few years and the drama ensues.

My encounters with Facebook were infrequent but interesting.

The date with Facebook guy. I was bombarded with profile-like questions: “What’s your favorite movie? Color? Book? Quote? Football team?” After some awkward moments, it dawned on me why his answers were flowing so much more smoothly than my own. He’d been refining them on a regular basis since opening his account during freshman orientation, and I’ve never spent time nailing down my personal list of “favorites”—except the last. When you’re raised on the Packers, it’s hard to quit.

The Facebook communication breakdown. A friend of mine planned to see a movie with friends but didn’t know the meet-up time, so she called another friend on her lunch break. No answer. Just a texted response: “Check your Facebook.” Too bad she couldn’t do that while leading tours through an art museum. After work she logged on to find a full-blown Facebook conversation debating whether or not she was still going. Couldn’t her “friends” have picked up a phone and called?

The better-than-Facebook announcement. My college roommate called me to make sure I knew about the engagement (posted on Facebook) of a mutual friend. The bride-to-be had called me just days before. I was happy: two quality conversations with long-time friends because they both knew I wasn’t on Facebook and wanted me to be informed. I would far rather get the phone call than read the update.

The Facebook wedding. No, they didn’t meet on Facebook, but they did reconnect there. And, perhaps appropriately, this was the event at which the clamor to join Facebook reached its height. The bride updated her Facebook page via Blackberry just before heading down the aisle: “I’m getting married!” We, the supportive bridesmaid sisterhood, assured her this was fine and would only be weird if she whipped out her phone mid-vow or anytime during the ceremony.

The big city lawyer and the suburban mother-of-two crashed another reception for one song and then spent at least a half hour debating how to phrase their daring in their next status updates. I got to exclaim over the cuteness of another friend’s two sons upon seeing them for the first time. Her comment: “If you were on Facebook, you could have seen them a long time ago.” My response: “But then their Mama wouldn’t have gotten to witness my oohs and ahhs in person!”

By the end of the wedding weekend, I couldn’t escape the “friend” requests. My inbox was bombarded with them, and I’d never even logged on to Facebook. I had to make a choice. So, I pondered my options.

I knew that this was more than a spontaneous decision. But I found no resolution in the traditional pros and cons of the “to join” or “not to join” debate. In and of itself, Facebook is amoral, neither good nor bad. It’s a decision that each person has to make for him or herself.

As potentially hundreds of past acquaintances waited in cyberspace for me to “friend” them, I stumbled over two questions I couldn’t ignore: What does it mean to be a friend, and am I a good one to those God has already placed in my life?

Tempting as the whole thing sounded, all I could think of were the “missed call” list on my cell phone, the unopened messages in my inbox, and the stack of birthday cards waiting to be written (some a little late). Was it wise for me to consider communicating in a new way? I was failing to keep up with ones to which I’d already committed.

It seemed to me that Facebook had the potential to stretch my friendship field a million miles long, but less than an inch deep. Could I reasonably hope to use Facebook to establish meaningful relationships with people I had already lost touch with at least once in my life? I once gave up reading celebrity gossip for Lent, so I can vouch for the fact that reading someone’s status updates—and even honestly being interested in them—does not make me their friend.

But what does?

I took a step back and pondered the people who are meaningful in my life. The longer I thought, the longer the list grew. I know the people who have invested in my life. These are the people who challenge and support me, who listen to the whole story, who ask questions and care about the answers. These are the people who know my struggles, who pray, who remember. My conviction grew that I can’t be that kind of friend to hundreds of people. But perhaps this fresh appreciation could motivate me toward the discipline needed to nurture such friendships.

My thoughts transformed into a prayer of thanksgiving for all the special people with whom I have shared life’s journey. My renewed awareness of them inspired me to craft a list, to pray for each of them, and to establish intentional goals for growing those relationships. For me that involves phone calls, e-mails, notes in the mail, continued prayer, in-person activities, and a commitment to spontaneously pray or touch base when a particular person comes to mind. It also involves returning phone calls and e-mails in a timely manner.

It’s not a hard-core system, and it’s not perfect, but addressing friendship in an intentional way has made me more aware of the blessing of friendship and of my role in being a friend. It is all too easy to fall into a pattern of receiving friendship. And in some seasons of life, it is understandable. But I know I cannot build a sustained, healthy relationship on responding while never extending my hand. In my new commitment to friendship, I am often reminded of Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Admittedly, the thought of reconnecting with long-lost acquaintances is a particularly tantalizing part of Facebook’s offer. There are people I have known who I truly do miss. And yet, I see an answer to that, as well. In just the last year, through a series of unorchestrated events, a handful of people from my past have re-entered my life in meaningful ways. I have found that I do not regret or miss the years we were out of touch. Rather, I marvel at the resiliency of friendship, the wonder of timing, and the intricate beauty of integrating a shared history with a hopeful present.

Facebook membership may still be a part of my future. It doesn’t really matter. For today, I have a clear understanding that friends are a gift to be valued, to intentionally pursue and care for, and on whom to practice selfless, others-centered, unconditional love—all because I took the time to consider the social networking tool. Thank you, Facebook! It was nice to meet you. Maybe we’ll be friends somewhere down the road.

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After earning degrees in English and Music, Miriam Slagle has spent most of her adult life draining red pens as a proofreader and editor. Now that Word's "Track Changes" feature has made hard-copy editing obsolete, she uses her colored pens doing something else she really loves: writing letters and making cards to send in the mail. She has an uncanny knack for remembering names, is devoted to baking goodies from scratch, and wants to visit all 50 states and more than a few countries before this journey ends.

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When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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Thank You, Facebook

by Miriam Slagle time to read: 5 min
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