Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.
“Well, good luck with that!” the elderly woman said with a bit of a sneer. we were in the locker room at the gym; I had asked my youngest daughter to ask her sister if she was about finished in the shower, as we were in a bit of a time crunch. I looked a bit quizzically at the woman, and she added, “I hope it works better than it would have for me!”
She made additional negative comments about children in general and about her experiences as a parent before leaving the locker room with this parting shot: “I hope you have better luck than I did!” My youngest daughter, who had heard most of the exchange, looked at me wide-eyed. I had tried to interject some positive comments along the way, but frankly was just too stunned to say much.
As my girls and I continued to get ready to leave, another elderly lady looked at my youngest daughter and said, with a twinkle in her eye, “You have such beautiful hair, young lady!” we both said thank you, and we chatted about the new type of bun AG was trying, the lady said, “You need one of those things like ballerinas wear.” Then as AG went to the other side of the locker room with her sister, the lady turned to me and said, eyes still twinkling, “How old is she?” “Ten,” I replied with a smile. “Oh, I thought so! My granddaughter is ten. It’s such a fun age!”
I had the thought that this was one of those grandmothers for whom every age is “such a fun age!” 🙂 I agreed and we chatted for a few more seconds as she finished fixing her silvery white hair and left.
I shared the story with the kids on the way home. “You got both ends of the spectrum, Mom! The really sweet and the really…ugh!”
“Exactly! And you know, we have a choice to make. We can be miserable and sour to everyone we meet, like the first woman, or we can be kind and encouraging, like the second. I want to be like the second woman! I want to leave people with smiles and fond memories, even of the shortest encounter, not leave them thinking, “What a sourpuss!”
I’ve seen discussions in various venues recently debating the merits (or lack thereof) of Facebook and other social media. There are those who have much negative to say about social media in general, and Facebook in particular. There are definitely negatives there. But as a friend reminded recently, “Facebook is a tool. It isn’t good or bad; it’s just a tool.” The same is true of other social media.
Just as a hammer can be used to build a house or tear one down, so social media can be used to build up or tear down…people, relationships, reputations, etc. Like those two women at the gym, we have a choice to make.
I recently had a really rough week, and one day in particular, I was hanging by a thread. It had been a horrid day; by evening every nerve was frayed and my heart was ripped to pieces.
I woke up the next morning to tremendous encouragement and challenge from friends via social media. First I received a Facebook message from a local friend sharing a huge answer to a long-time prayer. Despite my heartache over the events of the previous day, I couldn’t help but rejoice greatly when I read the news.
On a message board I’ve been part of for years, another friend shared song lyrics that were a balm to my aching heart.
Friends shared Scripture on Facebook that convicted and encouraged me.
I was challenged to get into the Word and put my focus where it belongs: on the Almighty God who is sovereign over all and sufficient for every need.
It definitely wasn’t the first time God had used social media to encourage, challenge, and convict me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Social media can definitely be used for foolish, negative purposes, but it can also be a tool for much good. While we must never allow social media to replace or overshadow “IRL” (in real life) relationships, it can be a wonderful way to enhance those relationships. It can also be a way to reach those we’d never actually be able to reach in real life.
Here are some ways we can use social media to encourage and edify:
1. Pray. Social media is a great means for sharing prayer needs, reminding us to pray for others, and letting others know that they are in our prayers. Remember the “prayer chains” that many churches and organizations had years ago? Social media is like a faster, simpler, more accurate prayer chain where prayer needs can go around the world in minutes.
Social media also keeps those needs right in front of us, reminding us to pray.
And with social media, it’s easy to let people know we’re praying. Are you praying for someone in particular today? Send them a Facebook message or Twitter DM and let them know. What an encouragement!
2. Share Scripture. Basic, but what a huge impact it can have! Did God speak to you through a certain verse or passage of Scripture during your quiet time? Share it on Facebook or Twitter, create a graphic for Instagram, or write a blog post with your takeaways.
3. Pass on a great quote. I love quotes! And sharing quotes from Godly men and women can be a great way to encourage and challenge others.
4. Be a cheerleader. Leave a comment praising an accomplishment. Share some uplifting words with someone who is down. Send a message to a friend experiencing hard times.
5. Be transparent. That doesn’t mean air your dirty laundry! But don’t be afraid to share a struggle. God works through our struggles and weaknesses. We don’t want to glorify our weaknesses, but we do want to glorify the God who works in and through them! In sharing our struggles and how God is working in our lives through them, we can encourage others in their own struggles.
Case in point: At the age of 45, I recently began working out diligently (see more about that here.) A big part of my motivation to get started came from various bloggers and Instagrammers, particularly Lisa Pennington of The Pennington Point and Renee Camacho (ERCamacho on Instagram), as well as a couple of ladies on the message board I mentioned earlier. Their openness about their struggles (and successes!) inspired me to get started and stay with it.
How have you been encouraged or challenged through social media? What positive impacts has it had on your life? How do you encourage others through Facebook, Twitter, or other social media outlets?