In response to the baiting agendas of the media Ronald Reagan is famously quoted with the response that begins with ‘There you go again…’. He was a master at being able to disarm a situation while calling it out for what it was. I can’t tell you how often I want to respond to someone on Facebook or other social channels in response to something inappropriately personal that they’ve posted. Unfortunately, social media is too often a revealing space – it regularly amazes me the amount of dirty laundry that people will share and I hurt for people who do this for two reasons:
- It’s a cry of pain and my heart goes out to them
- It’s not the safest or wisest place to address, much less resolve, conflict or other heartache in their lives
I remember when my kids were young and they wanted to post things to Facebook that were the product of some pain in their life. They quickly learned that good-ole-dad wasn’t going to let that fly because I knew that it would only make things worse for them… not better. I would redirect them to safer places to share their heartache and my advice is the same for all of us. It’s important to understand that while people are well-intentioned the heartache of our lives, if not addressed in a healthy fashion, will only be compounded by bad advice. So my advice (unbidden as it is) to all of us on social media is that you direct your conflict, your pain, your anguish, to the safest places as possible. What are those safe places?
- Someone with spiritual wisdom – It’s imperative that we find people who are spiritually in tune with God. I know the following isn’t fashionable these days but some earmarks of a spiritual person are; a passion for Jesus, a prayer life, a strong knowledge of the Bible, and a life that reflects continual willingness to grow and mature in all areas of their life (see below).
- Someone who deals with their own conflicts in a healthy way – the world is filled with humans and we all, collectively, struggle to get it right all of the time. And the best of us can lose our temper, yell, say hurtful things, be manipulative and the list goes on. But your challenge is to find someone who knows when they’re doing it and owns it. Who doesn’t dwell in that space, you know, the professional arguer/fighter. The earmarks of a person who is maturing and growing in this area are; a desire to grow spiritually (see above), a humble spirit (they own their bad behavior and can apologize), they work at changing/addressing their bad behavior, and they allow others to fail in the same ways they fail. When you find someone like this their relationships in any sphere will reflect it.
- Someone who has their personal life in order – the first two bullets will be reflected and affect the last in a profound way. But there’s a ‘caution label’ on this one. Just because someone is successful by material standards it doesn’t mean they can be trusted with your pain and heartache. I know plenty of wealthy and miserable, hurting people. In fact, material prosperity isn’t what I’m necessarily talking about here. Someone who has their life in order can have humble belongings. A worn-out Jeep or a yard that isn’t necessarily perfectly or even well-manicured. They may even have some financial problems as a result of past decisions by themselves or others. Local economies can change or a business owner can make terrible decisions that affect other’s incomes… or we can follow bad advice and end up in rough financial places.They can also be surrounded by conflict… after all you can’t really choose the family you were born into. Nor can you control the behavior of your coworkers, church-members, neighbors and so on. In fact life is full of conflict… it’s inevitable.
The earmark of a person who has their personal life in order goes squarely back to the first two bullets above. Spiritual maturity affects how we respond to conflict and heartache which in turn creates a person who, in the midst of their own challenges, strives to grow closer to God, mature in their faith and works to resolve their conflicts with others in healthy and meaningful fashions. This, in turn, produces peace and contentment in spite of it all and that is the earmark of someone who has their personal life in order.
Whether you’re publishing your dirty laundry on social media or not – I challenge you to consider the perspective I offer above. Seek out spiritual people for your life or, more importantly, be that for others.