I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, godmother, friend, neighbor, church member, and probably a few other vocations I am missing. God gives me vocations to serve others. He gives others vocations to serve me. It is a wonderful little set-up we have going. God is pretty awesome that way.
But I must admit, I am struggling to find room for a new kind of vocation - the facebook friend.
You are probably in this vocation, too. It would be too far to say you are friends and too little to say you are strangers. You are facebook friends.
I already struggle with my empathetic heart. I hurt when others hurt. I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot sleep because I am thinking about other people's stress. Seriously. And like all people, I have enough stress of my own to keep me awake at night. What do I do with all this facebook friend stress?
And if you are one of my facebook friends, believe me, this is not against you. This is just a very honest and very real description of my desire to find a way to shoulder some of your burdens while maintaining my other 20 vocations in which I am much more actively involved.
Twenty years ago I wouldn't even have known about your burdens because I wouldn't have the ability to know your life. Now I am awake at night because of them. This is a blessing and a curse. God has blessed us with the technology to be informed and involved around the world. What a glorious blessing! But like all technological blessings, we must figure out how to use them according to His will.
And it is not just figuring out how to bear burdens in this vocation, it is figuring out when and how to be involved in discussions.
Do I engage in this political conversation?
Do I share my belief about that comment you just shared?
Do I have enough impact on your life to even make a difference?
Will my words sound harsh?
Do I have enough energy to keep reading about why you think something is right when I think it is wrong?
Sometimes, dear facebook friend, you make me really mad. You post something so shocking to my core that I am unable to respond in a few printed words. Then, I carry guilt that I didn't get involved.
Man, I am a mess.
About once a month I consider leaving facebook. I would probably be a little more put together if I did. My other vocations would probably be more fulfilling if I did.
Of course, my mother and mother-in-law would be distraught.
So, instead I try to find the best way to fill my role as facebook friend.
When I read your status about your breaking heart, I can quickly say, "Lord have mercy." I can pray that God grant you faith and health. I can speak to God on your behalf even though I barely know you. When I wake in the middle of the night, I can pray the Psalms for you. I can name you in my nightly prayers with my family.
Sometimes I name you so often that my toddler sons begin naming you.
Prayer is contagious that way.
When you challenge my core beliefs with a 20 word status, I can pray God give me the right words or help me to be silent when needed. I can show you love and truth at the same time. I can put the best construction on your words and choose to respond in a manner suited to the situation.
But dear facebook friend, I will fail you. I will have anger for you. I will stay silent when I should have spoken. I will speak when I should have stayed silent. I will make comments that are inappropriate. I will fail to put the best construction on your words. I will covet your life. I will fail to pray for you. I will feel exhausted by your burdens. I know all this even before it happens.
I will say it again - I am a mess. A mess of sin. A mess of guilt. A mess of a facebook friend. We all are.
We are all a big mess of every vocation God gives us, and yet, somehow He keeps serving others through us. He takes this ragtag group of facebook friends and speaks truth in love. He gives thousands of dollars to those in need through facebook giving campaigns. He fills our dark world with the Light of His Son.
And He chooses to use us to do it.
Thanks be to God for the vocation of facebook friend.
And even more thanks be to God for Christ fulfilling our vocation for us.