The World Wide Web - it can be used as a powerful force, for good. The rise of social media has completely changed the way we see and engage with the world. We are a culture, which seeks to share our enjoyment with others, a natural pull that stems from our innate design to live in community with one another. We have gradually turned into sharing machines. We see it, snap it and almost simultaneously share it. Before the moment has even passed we’ve invited hundreds of people in to experience everything from our daily latte, to our 30th birthday party, to a getaway in the mountains, to the birth of our third child. It’s become second nature to share our experiences instantly with family, friends and for some, countless complete strangers.
My motto for online engagement has always been ‘to each his own’. Some share lots, some share never. I'm in no position to run around judging as if to be a part of some sort of SMPD, [Social Media Police Department], nor do I care to fulfill that role. I share a lot. For me, it’s a creative outlet. It’s a way to engage, share important moments with friends and family, talk about the good happening in the world and hopefully somewhat inspire others.
I work for a media advocacy campaign called BraveLove – we’ve set out to change the perception of adoption by conveying the heroism and bravery a birth mother displays when she places her through adoption. Our efforts are spent strategizing ways to creatively publicize a perspective that people typically don’t find themselves thinking about on a regular basis. Most days at around noon, I throw on the hat of Social Media Manager, refer to the trusty content calendar and get to posting. Though certainly not the most exhilarating part of my job, it is a crucial component to the spread of the mission of the organization and an extremely helpful tool used to engage with people who might have otherwise never been exposed to the work we have set out to do. I have seen Social Media encourage, inspire and even bring people together.
Marketing has come a long way in the past 10 years. The Internet has created space for anyone to build an empire; expose good, create a platform and spread an array of positive messages.
On the contrary, as we have witnessed with the heartbreaking exposure of the Ashley Madison website hack this past year, just as quickly as an empire is built, it can come crashing down. The Internet can serve as a place for shame and secrecy to run wild and free, tearing apart families, resulting in great tragedy and leaving a mess behind. The secret, shame-filled life can quickly go from 'only affecting one' to affecting the masses. We are often prone to associate the secret things with the shameful things.
With the rising publicity of ‘Socality Barbie’, the world is also discovering that some of the most beautifully publicized moments are not as ‘authentic’ as they once appeared. Why? Not because these perfectly posed snapshots are inherently evil, but because these moments we share are transient, and some of them, no matter how well 'liked' they may be, they have no eternal value. We've traded authenticity for approval and these moments are quickly being glanced at, scrolled through and left to fade away into the abyss of Internet no man's land.
But where is the balance between the secret, shame-filled life, and the over-exposed, not-so authentic life of publicity? Maybe it's a combination of the good in both of these things. Taking the sacredness of that which is done in secret in our lives and balancing that with the good we have been created to share with the world.
The good we do, the love we give, and the words of encouragement we receive - these moments are divine appointments. Often, I find that designating some moments to remain secret adds a greater luster to my life than sharing them ever could. Shame isn’t always the bi-product of secrecy.
You know, those quiet, unseen moments where it’s just you and another person? You have those, right? The moments where you hear a still, small voice whisper ‘this experience is meant for you to be fully present. Put your phone down, treasure this time and give all the love you have.’ When we experience these moments where we feel the pull of the Holy Spirit speaking through us, or vise versa, we are left with an awe inspired humility, which no photo could ever come close to depicting. These secret moments, they are a gift…to be experienced fully, treasured and carried inside of our hearts.
Life is moving quickly and we must be intentional about finding these moments and keeping them close, or we might eventually cease to recognize them. It could be an act of kindness - given or received, or a time in which someone unexpected is used to breathe life in to your soul. Maybe it's a 3am feeding with your newborn, or time spent alone with the love of your life, maybe it's a moment spent in the splendor of creation, time given to the poor and needy…these are the moments in which we are eternally transformed. It’s why the Bible tells us to do really beautiful things like fast and pray and give…in secret.
So that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt 6:4
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt 6:6
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt 6:17-18
Bob Goff offers one of my favorite perspectives on life. I admire this man's tenacious pursuit of genuine love and the way he challenges our Christian idealism. He has very little tolerance for believers thinking higher of ourselves than we ought, and seeks to bring us back to the simple call to love. In his book Love Does he says this…
"Maybe Jesus wants us to be secretly incredible instead. That was His plan for self-promotion. Secretly incredible people keep what they do as one of God's best kept secrets because the only one who needs to know, the God of the universe, already knows."
The God of the universe sees every single good thing we do, and these things honor Him because he gives them! We must believe in the power of becoming secretly incredible. We must begin to savor these secret moments, because the unseen is eternal. To enter in, to love, to give to the world, without telling a soul…this is sacred secrecy.
There was nothing sacred about the secrecy of the Ashley Madison website, and Socality Barbie, well, she has revealed to us that our quest for "authenticity" has become counterfeit. There is a secret war happening all around which demands our genuine presence. In the midst of the unseen, there are battles being fought and tiny victories being won. These victories are contributing to a story - much bigger than us.
Sharing is wonderful, and I will continue to do it, but what if we put as much emphasis on the secret things as we did the shared? What if we lived for the unseen and let the quiet moments dictate our days? When we're pushed to be fully present, when God speaks through the unlikely, when He pulls us to connect personally with another human, let's pull up a chair, listen and engage. The gift of presence is what the world needs, now more than ever.
In the wise words of Bob Goff, 'Let's toss around love like confetti!' We are constantly facing opportunities to love, and give - to make an eternal impact. So much of our efforts on this earth will fade. The secret things are shaping us and we’ll carry them with us, all the way home…let's guard them with our lives.