The Silence

For a few months now I’ve been in a very weird place.  Usually I’m a pretty social person and I think some switch flipped when we started going to our new church over a year ago.  I realized something about relationships: they develop over something shared.  Be it space, a job, a church, a class, etc.  Typically it’s a physical place.

With the craze of social networks, new kinds of relationships started to form.  Those people I call “friends” despite the fact that I’ve never met them face to face, or even have spoken to them audibly.  The weird happened when I realized that the scales had tipped and I had more online friends (in people I’d never met) than I did friends in real life.  Now when I use the word friend, it’s with this definition in mind: acquaintance someone we know very little.  Although, I will say with everyone sharing so much about themselves on fb these days, it is possible to feel that someone is a good friend (someone we know quite well.)  When I had this realization, without really thinking it through, I started pulling back from all things social network related.  I stopped blogging.  I would read fb updates to keep up on family happenings and such, but didn’t really post many updates myself.  And twitter…I pretty much stopped that all together.

It wasn’t so much a stand I was taking, or even something I felt I needed to share with others via those sites.  It’s just what I needed to do.  What I found was a profound silence.  It stresses me out at times to know about all the happenings.  I feel guilty when I forget to pray for or can’t help with all the causes and stories that you hear.  20 years ago, you knew what you knew about needs and crisis and world happenings via the news or simply word of mouth from friends, and it was manageable.  With today’s internet and information overload I just couldn’t handle it.  I feel for everyone who’s lost a loved one and every diagnosis of cancer and every orphan in Africa, but the fact is I can do very little to help those situations.  I can send up a quick “arrow” prayer (one of those , “Lord…intervene in this situation…amen.”) or I can send a little money their way, but the reality is my brain can only hold so much information and I don’t have tons of extra money.  My heart can only hold so much hurt for others.  And I was overloaded.

Thus my self-imposed sabbatical from blogging.  All the posts I mentally wrote during that time were either complete downers or laced with sarcasm and much venting about stuff.  Not what I want the Sunny Side to be about.  Not what I want ME to be about!

What I heard God speaking to me about in the vacuum that was created from all that silence was that the areas I CAN do something about are the ones He’s placed right in front of me.  In my world that translates to my family, my job (the students and families I am around), my church family, my neighbors, you know…the  people I see.  The people I can look in the eyes.  The friends I’ve made online are important to me, and I think about them often.  There’s Evan in Florida.  I really hope to take the family to Disney again someday and be able to meet this awesome, young man and his family in person.  There’s Shellie in California who I count as a dear friend who I’ve also never met in person, but I have spoken to on the phone a few times.  There’s Sarah in Hawaii, and Kelly and Mike in Utah who I did get to meet on the Music Boat, but first met as online friends with a music connection.  There’s Robbie, who sent the first Christmas card I received two years in a row (way to be on it, Robbie!) who I’ve also never met.  These are people I count among the “good friend” category, and my time away from the internet has left me missing them greatly.

This past week I felt that familiar tug to write again.  To get my words out here (and I have many!)  Again, it was like someone flipped a switch and I just knew the silence was over.  I’ve learned what I needed to learn from this time.  I need to move ahead and try to find a balance between my online world and my real world friendships.  I need both!  Chances are I will be tipping the  scales one way or another every day, but I’m pretty sure that’s just life.

I’m curious…how do you balance things?  It’s something I’ve always struggled with, how to balance life.



7 thoughts on “The Silence

  1. Thanks for sharing that. I have not blogged regularly lately because it is not on my “need to do” list. That’s how I stay balanced in life. I have a “need to do” list, and a “nice to do” list. My need to do list isn’t very long, but they are things that take time, require energy, thought, and planning. That list includes having a meal together as a family together every day, spending time every day just sitting with Mike talking, laughing with Bryan every day, and keeping up with Bryan’s school and household chores. There are a few others, but they are more specific to me. The nice to do list are things like watch TV, catch up on facebook and twitter, blog, play drums. The nice to do list is the things I like, or even love, doing, but are are things that if not done won’t cause more havoc and stress in my life.

    I think everyone needs to really know what their need to do things are, and make them the priority. Do I manage to keep them the priority all the time? No, but if I feel a bit of havoc and stress, I can put myself back on track by looking at those lists again.

    • That’s a great way to put it, Kelly. I think I have those mental lists too, but I know some things on my “need to do” really belong on my “nice to do” list. That’s a whole different topic! I’ve become pretty selfish with my free time, and haven’t been filling it with things that matter. I blame Pinterest and Netflix! Kidding…I know it’s my choice, but lately those have been my “decompress zone” where I don’t really HAVE to think. I like not having to think. Also, thanks for sticking with me through the weird times!

  2. I understand exactly what you are saying. All the social media stuff can be overwhelming at times. I havent been online as much as I used to be. It can be very time consuming. I don’t have any friends here locally although I do have a niece that I spend a lot of time with. I do think it’s important you spend time with the family and friends especially the ones who are local that you can see.

    • Robbie, it’s nice that you have extended family close by in your niece. All of our extended family lives far away. That means I have to fill those relational voids with other people. It’s tough. I had someone at church look genuinely happy to see me last night and gave me a big hug. It made my day! We’ve worked together in the nursery for awhile now, but I’m just starting to see her as more friend than aquaintance. I pray your relationshiops at church deepen and you find a great friend in your life!

  3. I almost quit reading blogs. But, lately I’ve felt that pull back to my internet community. Like Robbie, I don’t feel I have a lot of IRL friends. I have a lot of acquaintances. And I am a little impatient. When we moved to WA, I depended on the prayers of my internet friends. In WA I found a great group of women who became my support group (in recovery). Moving to CA, I still have a feeling that I don’t quite fit in. 6 months & I still haven’t found a sponsor. I hit a lot of meetings and am involved in service work, but haven’t found that group of women where I feel connected. A bit discouraged.
    I have been going back to church for the 1st time in YEARS. Am on my 2nd church. Have been twice. Met a lady sitting next to me that is a couple of years older than me (I think). She has been a member for 30 years! At the same church! I am going to the Women’s Bible study tomorrow & then to lunch with her.
    The sermon Sunday started out talking about God’s desire for us to keep moving through life and not just “settle”. If we get too cozy, we can get complacent & ignore what’s around us. He reminded us that God is persistent in wanting us to find the Blessing, Wholeness, and Freedom He offers us. We must choose to follow and to do it without fear. That without fear part is probably the hardest. Recognizing God’s will and not mine! Mine are the ones filled with fear! My humanness. Fear. Go hand-in-hand.
    Then he resigned as pastor. After 30 years. To save his marriage & to work on some issues I won’t go into. But, he was honest. He didn’t want rumors. He didn’t want gossip. It is a huge church and it had become his significant other. Instead of his wife. He hadn’t been unfaithful in the way one would think. Nothing illegal. And he did all of this without losing it. God’s grace was at work. In starting a healing process. For him, for his congregation.
    It sounded so familiar. Addiction. Recovery. That 1st step is about recognizing that my life is unmanageable and that I am powerless over the addiction. Total surrender. I truly believe the 12 Steps were originally based loosely on a Christian-like renewal. So much of what is in our Basic Text is interchangeable with sections of the Bible. I so related to much of what he said.
    The lady I met was afraid I would might look at their church differently. When I told her that I had been where he is, just different circumstances. Same healing outlined. For life. She thought I was gracious and wise with my words. Brought tears to my eyes. I feel like addiction & my renewal in Christ have come full circle. What I have given myself in recovery is spilling over to those not in recovery! What a feeling!
    And I need to move. Not settle for where I am! Or who I am.
    I know our hearts are forever together. Even if we never meet. On this Earth.
    PS Sorry to hold the comment section hostage! I just needed to share!

    • Never worry about taking my comment section hostage! It’s yours to use as you need. Thanks for sharing! I’m so glad to hear that you are visiting churches, and that you’re still moving forward.

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