The Other Side of Jealousy

I call it “In your face-book,” she told me. “I hate Facebook.”

I nodded, absorbing her reasons not to post updates on a given topic.

She didn’t say it, but I had to guess that perhaps her abhorrence of Facebook was at least partially related to the fact that God had not yet given her the desire of her heart in the form of a baby.

God knows that I know it’s impossible to get on Facebook without seeing “in your face” reminders of un-motherhood: pregnancy announcements, birth announcements…babies, grandbabies…videos, photos…funny sayings, cute faces…pajama pictures, pool pictures…ultrasound shots…maternity photos…My Little Pony cakes—you name it. Kids unapologetically brighten up the world and lighten up the Internet. And I’m glad they do.

Just the same, I could understand why my friend might avoid Facebook like the Gaza Strip. It was a constant assault on her deepest pain. Everyone else has what she doesn’t have. And it hurts.

It wasn’t Facebook’s fault exactly; deep down—deep, deep down—the problem was jealousy. I don’t know what it is about jealousy, but we do not want to call it that. I suspect jealously has worn more nametags than just about any other sin.

Admit it or not, of all the people who have told me they quit Facebook and of all the reasons they have given, I suspect that jealousy is the one unnamed deactivator of many an account.

Because other peoples’ lives tend to be perfect on Facebook. I confess there have been times I clicked through someone else’s photos and thought, She has everything: she’s beautiful, married to a good man, wonderful kids, nice house, nice vacations… and eventually closed the screen with an overwhelming sense of discontentment. My life stinks…

I’ve struggled with jealousy. It has chewed me up then spit me out in worthless chunks like a redneck, tobacco, and a country road. In fact, there have been full weeks—months—years—when the only times I wasn’t struggling with jealousy was when I had given up completely. It can still ruin a good day quicker than my alarm clock.

I know I’m not alone. I remember times when two of my friends confessed to me that they were jealous of me. I wanted to laugh. But they were serious. These were painful confessions for them.

I wanted to laugh because both came at particularly low times for me. I knew if they really, truly knew my life, they would be anxious to take their own set of troubles and go home. If they knew the tears I cried, the pressures I faced, and the mistakes I’ve made, they would probably be whistling on their way to work—thank God, I’m not her!

And when it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t trade with them either. Not even with the gorgeous girls with successful husbands and adorable kids. Not the movie stars; not the world-class musicians; not even the ice skaters.

There will always be someone out there—probably on the edges of my circle of friends—who is prettier, funnier, nicer, smarter, richer, and just happier than me. They will be young and interesting when I’m old and boring. They will be available when I am tied up. They will think of the right thing to say when words have failed my completely. They will make friends when I can’t even make hot chocolate.

But now that perfect girl is affecting me less.

I have a wonderful life. In fact, I am richly blessed beyond what I can ever deserve.

But that is beside the point.

The point is that I am learning the truth about jealousy. If you are jealous of someone, you either don’t know them well enough or you haven’t known them long enough. The fact is, their life either has troubles or will have troubles. Serious troubles. And unless they have chosen an attitude of gratitude, they probably think their life stinks too.

On the other side of your jealousy is a hurting, confused, lonely, and even scared girl that you just don’t know yet.

I thank God that even though I will always struggle, I’m coming to the realization that jealousy is me believing the lie that I would be happier if my life were different; when in reality it would only be…well…different. In the process, God has freed me to see Facebook as God’s brag book—budding romances, happy families, new opportunities, God’s creation, and, of course, God’s amazing gift of new lives in small packages. As friend after friend has gotten married and had kids, I’ve been able to genuinely say, “I’m so happy for you!” Because I am.

Just the same, if it causes you to stumble, or if you just don’t like it, there is no harm in staying away from Facebook. And unless you are truly ready for war, this would be a good time to stay out of the Gaza Strip.

Trial by Social Media: If your goal is restoration, why are you doing more damage than necessary?

I’ve been incredibly saddened recently to read about the sin and/or alleged sin of two prominent Christian leaders. I’m disappointed to read of the confessions and or accusations posted on Facebook by perhaps well-intentioned Christian friends of mine.

Facebook?

Seriously, Christians. What are you thinking???

I’ve seen comments on such posts which say everything from “this is so sad” to “I hope he faces eternal punishment.”

These posts and the accompanying comments make me thoroughly ashamed of how we treat our fellow believers. And frankly, I don’t think they do anything to bring glory to the name of Christ.

Perhaps what gets me most is the people involved who claim to have followed Matthew 18. This has me particularly puzzled because I don’t read anything about the Internet or Facebook in Matthew 18. What I read in Matthew 18 are ways to deal with sin within the church. Do you hear me?  Within the church.

Scripture is clear that you should not take fellow believers to trial in front of a non-believing judge. How much more true is it then that we would not put a fellow believer on trial before millions of uninvolved and unauthoritative Facebook friends?  What justice is there in that?

At first, I read many of the articles. Tried to sift through them and figure out what are grains of truth. Then I realized that isn’t my job. Nor was it the job of the people I was hearing the facts from.  They were just stirring the pot.

Matthew 18 teaches that if you have something against a brother, you go to them directly.  If you are unable to work it out, you take a second witness to them directly. If they don’t repent, you take it to church.  Galatians 6 provides additional guidance indicating that the goal should be restoration and it should be handled by “you who are spiritual” and handled “in a spirit of gentleness.”  1 Corinthians 6 teaches that the church should act as the tribunal in disputes among Christians.  They hear the evidence. They weigh the facts. They test the credibility of the witness. They reach a conclusion. If they find the accused guilty, they administer the discipline.  And there is never a time when the sin is publicized for all the world to make a mockery of the Church and Christians. [I Corinthians 6:5]

But…I’m reminded. These are serious accusations.  Partly true in the case at hand. More serious perhaps than the original facts warranted. The inferences and implications cast a shadow much larger than the facts themselves. But, nevertheless, I’ll agree that when you raise a high standard, you’re going to be held to it. So, yes, they are serious.

The more serious the accusation, the more important it is that it is handled biblically.  Justly. Quietly.

Not trial by social media.

I even heard one group claim that they had followed Matthew 18 because they tried to confront the accused with the facts before they went public and he wouldn’t agree to their terms. Honestly?  That’s less justice than MSNBC gave George W. Bush.

And to top it all—I see Christians getting excited and reposting the report when the story was “finally” picked up by the mainstream media.  Like this was some political foray.

After numerous posts, I’m convinced that there are those out there who are convinced that justice isn’t done until everyone knows and is convinced the accused is guilty and the debt has been paid in shame and disgrace.

I thought about in relation to a Christian leader who had repented from sin and posted an article of confession on his website.  That took a lot of humility and I have no doubt he had already suffered profoundly. Why would you repost that in your Facebook feed?  Are you trying to give your non-Christian friends yet another reason not to believe?  I tried and I just can’t think of a single good reason to plaster that on your wall.

Is that how you would want your sin handled?  I think of my many, many sins.  I think of reading them on my friends’ Facebook pages.   As if sin’s own consequences were not painful enough and everyone wanted a turn throwing a stone at me.   I can envision every feeble reminder of my merits met with, “Why are you defending her?  She’s a sinner!”

Because I am. It’s true.

And so are you.

So if you’re a Christian—and by that I mean you have trusted Christ as your Savior from sin — then the only comment you should have to any of these posts is “this is me.”  “But for God’s grace–maybe even despite God’s grace–this is me.”

That’s not to say we shouldn’t deal with sin. We certainly should. And the witnesses to the facts should say something if they see a pattern of unrepentant sin.  And the sinners should be dealt with, taken from leadership when needed, and even put out of the church if necessary.

But…don’t put it on Facebook.

Any of you out there without sin can cast the first stone. The rest of us should drop our stones and go deal with our own issues and let the accused deal directly with the Savior. He knows how to handle sinners.  He has lots of experience both with repentant and unrepentant.   He knew when to forgive and when to chase them out of the church with a whip.

Trust Him. He knows the facts. He sees the heart. He tries the motives. He gives wisdom to those whom He puts in places of authority.

And He doesn’t need Facebook.

Let’s focus our energies on making sure the things we post are not only true, but also that they are right.