Not Loving Your Life? Don’t Ditch Facebook!

Like me!

I love Facebook. Most of the time, anyway.

Here’s why. In my 50 plus years of life I’ve lived and worked in numerous locations. My “tribe” is scattered all over the globe. Gone are the days when the majority of people a person knows is in one location. As a result, we lose contact with people who once were a significant part of our lives. Facebook has changed that for me to a large degree. I’ve been grateful to be able to reconnect and stay in contact with many I hadn’t connected with for years.

Facebook Community

That’s the plus side of social media. And it’s huge. I’m beyond grateful for it and the people I get to connect with who are important to me.

Unfortunately, it also has its downsides.

While it’s a great place to share what’s going on in our lives, we tend to pick and choose what we share. That’s not all bad, of course. There’s wisdom in using discretion in what we make public. But unlike community together in one location where our “tribe” sees everything whether we want them to or not, we can choose to share only those elements of our lives which paint a picture that may or may not be entirely accurate. Knowing that others are likely also cherry picking what they share can give us perspective when we’re tempted to do what the Apostle Paul said is not wise to do: compare and measure ourselves by each other.

He said in 2 Corinthians 10: 12: “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”

Comparison is probably the biggest destroyer of contentment, the greatest cause of jealousy and pride, and the primary reason we judge and condemn others

Not much good results when we play the comparing game. When we compare, we either tend to compare our “bad” with another’s “good,” which leads to discontentment and jealousy; or we compare our “good” with their “bad,” which leads to pride and condemnation of others.

What better place to play the comparing game than on social media! If scrolling through Facebook makes you discontented with your own life or proud over what you have and others don’t, shutting down your account isn’t the answer. We can blame social media until we’re blue in the face, but it isn’t the problem. We are. Discontentment, jealousy, and judgment of others from comparing ourselves with other people are human nature problems as old as Bible times.

Don't play the comparing game!

Peter didn’t need Facebook to make him compare himself with John

In John 21, Jesus told Peter, “’When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.’ He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God…. So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them…. When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord — what about him?’ ‘If I want him to remain until I come,’ Jesus answered, ‘what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.’”

If we listen carefully to the Holy Spirit while we’re on social media, I have no doubt but that He’s saying the same to us when we start feeling jealous because Angela just bought the house we’ve always dreamed of, Dave and his wife have the exact number of kids we’d always planned to have, Jeff landed the dream job we’d aspired to achieve, and Michelle is on the vacation we wish we could take.

Jesus tells us in those instances the same thing He told Peter, “What is that to you? As for you, follow Me.”

What is important is that we’re living the life He has called us to live, not what someone else is living.

Martha didn’t need Facebook to make her compare herself with Mary

When Jesus visited in the home of sisters Mary and Martha, Martha got busy preparing a meal to serve their guest. But Mary sat with Jesus and listened to what He had to say. Martha compared what Mary was doing to what she was doing, and became upset. Surely taking care of your guest was the most important activity of the moment, she thought. Why couldn’t Mary see that? Why couldn’t Jesus see it?

And so she stepped up to them and said, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”

Whoa! Did you catch that? She just judged Mary for making her serve alone, and she judged Jesus for not caring! And then she told Jesus what to do. We wouldn’t dream of doing that, would we?

Come to think of it, I do recall praying prayers that were just as judgmental:

“Lord, don’t you care that I’m all alone in this life?”

“God, convict so-and-so that what they’re doing is wrong!”

And, if I listen carefully, I can hear the Holy Spirit saying to me something similar to what Jesus said to Martha: “You are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.”

Just be yourself

That one thing is following Jesus in what He has asked me to do, even if He’s not told anyone else to do that thing and I’m misunderstood and judged by others as a result. It’s interesting that Jesus didn’t tell Martha she should sit down at His feet like Mary did. After all, someone did need to prepare a meal. It was time to eat. But He also affirmed Mary as making the right choice for her, while telling Martha she shouldn’t let that worry and upset her.

He does the same for us. When we follow His calling on our lives He affirms our choices and encourages us to affirm others in theirs.

Accepting One Another

“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice. Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

If we’re living the exact same life as someone else, one of us isn’t living the life God created us to live. He created each of us uniquely different because He has a unique plan and purpose for each of us. Realizing this truth prevents discontentment, jealousy and condemnation from thinking our lives need to be the same as someone else’s, or theirs like ours, to be “okay.” God wants us to live in harmony with each other and to value and encourage each other in our differences.

Accept and love each other

So enjoy your daily scroll through your Facebook feed and use it as a prompt to celebrate the uniqueness of each person and how different they and their lives are to yours. Look for ways to affirm and encourage others in their calling and purpose by “liking” and commenting on their posts that share that purpose with you. View the ways they are different as reminders of the unique calling God has on your life and the way He is working through you to further His Kingdom in ways He isn’t using anyone else. It’s more than okay to be different — it’s crucial to knowing whether you’re living your purpose!

We serve an awesome God who is able to design each of the billions of people who have ever lived uniquely different from anyone else. Let’s celebrate that today in every way we can!

Wanting to Know Your Purpose?

Visit our Finding Your Purpose page to learn more.


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Removing the Hindrances from Singleness

Removing Hindrances

Many view singleness as a limitation rather than an advantage. I’d say it’s a fairly common perspective among Christians and non-Christians alike. It’s funny how we collectively forget that Jesus was single, and certainly nothing held Him back. And we forget that the second most prominent character of the New Testament was also single, the Apostle Paul, and it doesn’t appear singleness held him back. In fact, Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthains 7 that he found singleness preferable to marriage because it gave him the great opportunity to serve God without the distraction of a spouse.

This morning I was reading Paul’s travel plans in 1 Corinthians 16, which were obviously not set in stone:

I will come to you after I pass through Macedonia—for I will be traveling through Macedonia— and perhaps I will remain with you or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I go. I don’t want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me

Note his terminology which indicates extreme freedom and flexibility: “perhaps I will remain or even spend the winter,” “wherever I go,” and “If the Lord allows.” It’s doubtful he would have had such flexibility in travel, or even the opportunity to travel at all, if he’d had the responsibility of a family. Singleness allowed him to introduce Jesus to people far and wide. And because of Paul’s extensive travels to share Jesus, Christianity spread to the Gentiles, which includes most of us reading this right now.

Last year a good friend of mine was going through Beth Moore’s study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Children of the Day, and she shared with me an excerpt:

“What if, instead of fixating on taking the hurt out of our hindrance, we prayed for God to take the hindrance out of our hurt?”

And then she listed several equations where “hindrance” is removed from the various types of hurts individuals experience. I’ll list the ones that most pertain to those of us who are single:

Heartbreak – hindrance = depth

Breakup – hindrance = breakthrough

Singleness – hindrance = a gospel globetrotter

Celibacy – hindrance = sexual purity

Childlessness – hindrance = mother of many (Isaiah 54:1-2)

Disappointment – hindrance = faith

My pain – hindrance = my passion

My life – the hindrance of all my hindrances = my God-ordained destiny

 

Pretty awesome, isn’t it, to be able to see the most difficult aspects of our lives in a new and positive light once we remove the hindrance aspect? It’s pretty powerful!

Paul was certainly the epitomy of a “gospel globetrotter.” His open-ended travel plans show evidence he had removed whatever hindrance he may have felt from his single status to share Jesus far and wide.

We miss out on so much when we fail to remove hindrances from our perspective. We feel “stuck” because of our singleness, because of our lack of education or finances, because of our personality, because of our parents’ health, because of our own health, and so forth. We say to ourselves, “I can’t do that because … “ and then we fill in the blank with what we perceive is a hindrance.

What if we removed the hindrance aspect from our perspective? What if we saw our lack of education or finances as a means of relating to those who won’t be intimidated by our “lack”? What if we saw our personality as how God strategically designed and equipped us to fulfill His specific purpose for us? What if we saw our parents’ need for us as an opportunity to serve them and relate to their friends, thus enriching our lives and theirs? What if we saw our health issues as a means of identifying with others, or as opportunity to spend time in prayer and develop deeper insights? What if we saw our singleness as a freedom to accomplish great things for Christ’s Kingdom?

What if?

The possibilities are endless when we remove perceived hindrances. God is bigger than any hindrance we have. Not just slightly bigger. Not just barely able to handle our hindrances. Immensely bigger. He is Sovereign over all. Can we trust Him to overcome our perceived hindrances and accomplish all He has created us to do?

What perceived hindrance is holding you back? What if you remove “hindrance” from the equation? What powerful freedoms and opportunities for good would result?

I’d love to hear your answers either in the comments below or by email. And if you’d like to have someone come alongside you and help you figure out what is holding you back, don’t forget about the coaching services Shari Baer is making available to us, which you can read more about here.

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Sometimes We Need a Little Help

A helping hand

This blog post is written by Shari Baer, a life coach who is offering coaching to the Purposeful Singleness community. You can read more about her services here.

Someone just recently asked me what I see is the major problem for singles I coach, versus those who are married. While you might think the answer would be loneliness, I’ve found more of the married people I coach to be truly lonely than many of the singles. As Fern has mentioned in her articles, loneliness is often a result of the lack of knowing one’s purpose and living their purpose rather than the lack of a spouse.

The most common concern of the singles I coach is feeling stuck and at a loss about how to move forward. Even when they know their purpose, there are times they just need someone to help them figure out their next step – no matter how little or big that step may be. Having a coach come alongside and ask pointed and direct questions helps them figure out their next step.

A coach’s role is not to give answers, but simply to ask the questions which help a person figure out their best next step. It is much more powerful when a person figures out their own solution rather than having someone advise them on their next step. When it is the individual’s idea, they take ownership because deep down they really do know what works best for them. Other people’s ideas, which may have worked in their lives, doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. A coach helps each person discover what works best for them.

The Lord has given each of us unique, incredible, and often amazing ways of figuring out our next steps. Coaching singles is a true joy for me. It is so fun to see that light bulb come on in their “aha” moment when they discover that deep down they had the solution. What a great feeling to be moving again in a positive and life-giving direction!

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On the “Wrong” Side of Man-made Fences

Wrong side of a man-made fence

It is of little importance to me that I should be evaluated by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even evaluate myself. For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The One who evaluates me is the Lord. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4 HCSB)

 I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time worrying about others’ opinions of me and my life. I’ve worried someone will think I should do something different no matter what choice I make, and that someone will think less of me because of it. Truth is, sometimes they do. Other times I’m just imaging someone might object. I’ve had imaginary conversations in my head over imaginary objections to whatever it is I’m doing or not doing. It’s a completely ridiculous waste of time and mental energy.

The bottom line is what “they” think about me ultimately doesn’t matter. There’s only one evaluation we should seek, and that is God’s. Settling this in our hearts and minds is important, because if we are following God’s plan for our lives, it is a certainty we will be judged wrongly by others. Are we prepared to remain firm in our decision to do what God wants us to do and endure others’ judgment, or would we rather have their approval and face God’s judgment instead?

I love Elisabeth Elliot’s perspective of this in one of my favorite books, The Liberty of Obedience:

“It is not possible to behave in a way which would be understood by all, let alone accepted by all. God alone, who is above all and in us all, judges rightly, and therefore it is before Him that we stand or fall…. We may find ourselves on the wrong side of some man-made fences, but this is a part of the risk of following Him without reservation, of doing the truth, and of unconditionally committing our case to God.”

While both Paul and Elisabeth tell us we shouldn’t be people pleasers, they also both make it clear we don’t have a green light to do whatever we want. There’s One whom we do need to concern ourselves with pleasing: our Heavenly Father. The title of Elisabeth’s book, The Liberty of Obedience, indicates there’s freedom in following God’s blueprint for our lives – freedom from self-condemnation, freedom from others’ judgment, and most of all, freedom from Satan’s accusations. But that freedom only comes when we’re living in obedience to God.

What is God asking you to do or not to do? What is His purpose for you? Are you willing to do it no matter what someone else might think of you and if it means being on the wrong side of a man-made fence? If God’s plan for you is best carried out on the stage of singleness, are you willing to say “yes” to that stage for as long as God determines is best? Are you ready to say “yes” to the permanence of marriage if that is His best stage for you? Do you trust God’s goodness enough to say “yes” to Him in all circumstances?

It is only in saying “yes” to God and the purpose for which He created us that we find the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.

Shari BaerIf you would like help in figuring out God’s purpose and plan for you, or for moving forward in it, I highly recommend taking advantage of the coaching services offered by Shari Baer to the Purposeful Singleness community. She loves the Lord with all her heart and knows what it is to step out in faith to pursue God’s purpose for her life. Her services aren’t free, but she is generously allowing those who contact her through Purposeful Singleness to pay what you feel her services are worth to you after your first session with her. You can read more about her coaching services here. Or you can contact her at 301-992-2185 or through the form below.

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