Are You my Friend?

Over a decade ago, I joined a social media platform as a way of staying connected with my friends and family in the United States. The ability to share fun stories, immediate and needed prayer requests, photos, anecdotal tales from our three sons, and my blog posts was a sweet blessing. Honestly, I believe that keeping in touch with my family and friends through social media was one of the tools that the Lord used to encourage me while I lived in South Africa.

We called each other friends and we identified with each other as friends.

Over time, more people asked to join my friends’ list. My caveat for accepting friend’s requests was that there had to be a connection with a person or group that I knew personally. I did not just ‘add’ someone to my life. And before long, there were many people in my friends’ listing – a good many were my family and close, close friends and associates. Yet, others were people I did not know – but knew of. I often wondered why they wanted to be my friend on social media – especially when we did not have any real connection in the real world.

This social media platform worked for me, though. It still does in many respects. My life purpose is to encourage others and bless them with the love of Jesus. This is what I am all about it. I feel it. I think it. I breathe it. And I share it.

Yet, over time, something happened on this social media platform.

Instead of sharing fun photos, anecdotal stories, joys, and yes, sorrows, some ‘friends’ stopped sharing and started spewing. I am not sure why. Some will say their insults and rants were because of this person or that person, this ideology or that ideology, this political bent or that political bent, or this perceived threat or that perceived threat – or something else entirely. The reasoning was that friends could not stay ‘silent’ any longer about their convictions.

Did this help?

Did the malevolence bring us together?

Did the blame, the criticism, or the spite lift our spirits?

Are we stronger, brighter, and happier?

Are we better friends?

People are quitting social media in droves now. They have had enough of the nonsense. That is fine. They can do that.

Me?

No.

I am not quitting – at least not yet.

My purpose remains the same.

I will encourage.

I will love.

I will support.

I strive to be a person of love in action – like Jesus asks me to:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

New International Version, Romans 12: 9 – 10

What would happen if my friends and I engaged on our social media platforms – whether it’s facebook, Twitter, or whatever — with the intent to bless? What if we set our hearts and minds on loving people as we spoke, as we shared, as we lived, and as we posted and tweeted?

Instead of getting all riled up about this thing or that thing, what would happen if we listened more, learned more, and loved more, and even, prayed more? I am not promoting an unrealistic, rainbows -and-unicorns-and-puppy-dogs-and-kittens’ discourse.  I am talking about real listening, real understanding, and real love – reaching the heart-to-heart place of care, respect, and honor. One cannot honor another person above oneself without understanding where they are coming from – listening to their worries, concerns, sorrows, need, joys, gladness, and blessings.

Is this possible on a social media platform?

How do we start?

For me, I will share the good stuff. The joyous stuff. The comforting and encouraging stuff. The honoring stuff. And the real stuff. The where-I’m-at-stuff. But I won’t do it in anger, with annoyance or impatience, or with malevolence. I follow Christ. He asks that I honor others – my friends – even if I don’t always agree with them. He commands us to do that:

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

New Interntional Version, John 15:12

But…what about a word of conviction? What if we feel strongly about something and we feel led to share it?

Well, I am doing this very thing right now. I feel compelled to share this word of conviction among my friends. My exhortation is for us to be better friends.

This is my encouragement. Without criticism and without blame, I am asking us to care more, love more, and bless more – especially if we follow Jesus Christ. The unfortunate truth is that followers of Christ have not showed His love very well in recent days and, alas, we’ve failed to love like Christ many times throughout history as well. The name of Jesus has been used for misguided, self-serving ambition rather than for sharing the real message of Jesus Christ – to reveal the transformational, life-giving love of God.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

New International Version, John 3:16

Are you my friend?

If yes, will you join me in posting and tweeting with a greater degree of kindness and respect this day, this week, and maybe even for the next 21 days? We know that habits form and stick with practice and with time.

Don’t we need 2021 to be a better, friendlier year?

Because if we do not start being better friends, who will?

What do you think?

16 thoughts on “Are You my Friend?

  1. Great comments, we are still friends! Wishing you and your family God’s special blessing.

    1. Thank you! May 2021 be a year of blessing and joy for you and your family, Doug. Kind regards, heather

  2. Excellent writing fantastic use of scripture and YES!!!! Thank you for this.

    1. Thank you, Yukiko! I appreciate your affirmation. All my love, heather

  3. I have always felt we were friends. And I have always felt kind words will forever mean more than any others. I treasure your words. Forever and always.

    1. I love you, Shara! You are a bright light of joy, grace and blessing to me and to so many! I treasure you! Love, heather

  4. Heather, This is Julie Feely. My sister and husband, Marilyn & Tim McGuire, are active members at Sunset Pres. I have read your blog for several years now and your New Year’s hope hit home for me. I share your pray for friends who can listen more attentively, love graciously and lift up everyone they encounter whether in person or on social media. After reading this post, I remembered another New Year’s post that I printed from 2015…I resolve not to be an Ogre! Your last line begins, “It all begins with listening, understanding and loving…” Thankfully I don’t do social media but I will share your thoughts with those whom I encounter and join you in prayer for the Lord to enter our hearts and make each of us a more encouraging friend. Blessings and Hope, Julie

    1. Hi Julie, it’s very nice of you to write to me and to be so affirming of my writing. Thank you so much! Wow – that Ogre writing doesn’t feel like it was six years ago! My, oh, my – time does fly doesn’t it? 🙂 Kindness goes a long way and especially now when people are so discouraged because of the pandemic, the political situation, employment struggles, emotional challenges and more. Your care of those in your sphere of influence will be a blessing. Thank you again for writing to me. It means a lot to me. With love,
      heather

  5. Definitely, still friends!

    1. Thank you, Melinda! Sending you my love!!! love, heather

  6. This is so good and on my heart also, my friend. If only we would all use 1 Corinthians 13 as a litmus test for all our words and actions both spoken and written.

    1. Hi Teresa, I agree. If we began our day with 1 Corinthians 13 or Romans 12 or some other word of exhortation to care for others and to love our God with honor, what a difference for us on the inside and what a difference for the world on the outside. There’s far too much condemnation going around, isn’t there? I love you! love, heather

  7. Heather, I have always appreciated your focus on the love of Jesus. This post, I think, will remind us to refocus our attention on loving, not judging. Thank you for your clearly expressed, loving words.

    1. Thank you so much, Mary. i pray you have a great week filled with encouragement. With love, heather

  8. I am one who is giving up on Facebook. I have been attck personally by those whom I love and pray for. I amgoing to contiue to love and pray for them and the Lord has promised to hear me. I just can’t listen to them right now. I will be able to receive your messages by email and will continue to keep in touch. I pray for your and support your new ministeries and am excited for the future. Love you all. Shirley

    1. Hi Shirley,

      I know you haven’t been on Facebook for a while. I miss seeing you there, but I understand your decision. You still hear from me through this blog and also through my emails. I am so glad we can connect this way! And it was fun to connect by phone last month, too! We’ll have to do this again soon. I love you and pray you are keeping well. Love, heather

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