Think Before You Share

It was a typical morning.  I was up before the kids and enjoying some quiet time reading in bed when I heard the door of our two year old’s room open.  The soft padding of his little feet were heard coming down the hallway, my door opened, and his sweet, sleepy face appeared.  “MOMMY!”

I love those fleeting moments of motherhood.

I posted about it on my personal Facebook page while the kids ate breakfast and then went about my day.  Later, I noticed that a dear lady had posted a comment in which she shared how she too loves similar moments of motherhood.  The difference is that her and her precious child deal with challenges that I do not.  In her comment, she shared how she craves to hear from her child the way I did and how knowing that it will not happen hurts.

I appreciated her comment because it made me think of her story.  It taught me a lesson to remember as I navigate the world of social media.  We have many friends online and we see glimpses of lives, but most of us do not really “do life” together outside the click of a “like” button or occasional comment. We see the best of each other but are unaware of other’s realities or the struggles and pains that are faced.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us that we are to “encourage one another and build each other up.”  Doing so requires more than face-value knowledge of each other. So, how do we encourage and build up others on social media?  My post this week reminded me that one way to build others up is to be mindful and sensitive to others in what I share.

I don’t know the marriages that might be on the brink of an end. I don’t see the tears of the woman who is struggling with infertility as she sees yet another picture of someone else’s baby while her arms remain empty.  I can’t encourage the mom who secretly feels like a failure while she reads the posts of other moms boasting successes. I don’t see the couple who are struggling to make ends meet while trying to pay off another car repair on the old beater or know how they feel when they see the pictures of the new car a friend just bought.  I don’t know who might be discouraged with the demands and weight of their job while they browse through someone else’s latest vacation pictures. I can’t wipe the tears of the woman hiding the bruises given by the man she loves as she stares into the faces of the happy couples in her news feed and reads about how great other people’s spouses are to them.

I don’t know who they are, but I would be ignorant to think they aren’t there.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).  To do that on social media means that I have to think outside of myself.  I need to take into account my audience.

Through my posts or pictures, am I building up others or just… myself?  Will sharing be beneficial to the readers?  Will it be something that gives others joy or encouragement?

A friend and I were discussing this topic recently.  She is going through a trial.  She shared how she always thought it would be easy to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15) until she began to experience a season of personal grief.  “It can be very difficult to rejoice with others,” she confided.  She’s right. Social media doesn’t make it any easier.  Sometimes seeing the reasons that cause others to rejoice only magnify the pain, loss, longing, grief, etc. that one is experiencing. Social media can throw those feelings back in one’s face faster and more frequently than ever.  I need to remember that every time I click “share.”

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When it is brought to my attention that someone else is hurting or in need, I need to be quick to love on them where they are.  I should encourage, uplift, and be a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. I need always be quick to pray for and with them.

Here’s the challenge with posting anything:  No matter how careful I try to be, there is always the potential that it might cause someone else pain to some extent.   Having said that, should I not ever talk of my love for my husband, post pictures of our children, or share pieces of life that bring me joy?  Of course not.

It’s just that some things are better shared in moderation.  It might be more prudent to share some thoughts, stories, or successes with those closest to me (those with whom I really know and thus can be sensitive of) instead of with the hundreds of “friends” on the computer.  I need to choose what I share wisely if I am going to apply biblical truths and faith to every aspect of life.

We’ve all heard it said, “Think before you speak.”  It’s a new day and age.  Maybe we ought also say, “Think before you share.”

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