I have been critical of social media like Facebook before, complaining about the drivel and the dreadful, the cursing and the insults, or the lonely ladies desperately seeking attention by posting endless selfies. But I have finally found a positive perspective. Recently, there have been a variety of heartfelt pleas for and by families in dire straits – mothers seeking prayers for gravely ill children, GoFundMe posts for a family that lost everything in a house fire….
I have seen responses to such requests that are truly amazing. One would expect close friends and family members to join the prayer chain or get out their checkbooks, but total strangers? I think part of that positive, generous response is a reaction to the passionate, optimistic, grateful tone of the request. When the pleading mother expresses confidence that “all is in His hands”, when even in her desperate moments she can proclaim “God is good”, then we are more inclined to take a moment to say a few words to the creator on her behalf. Maybe even more than a few.
Too often, I think, we who claim to be Christian when asked, when surrounded by the fellowship of OUR church members, are more open to ideas like asking for help or singing praises, or sharing our faith story. But not so much when we are in the midst of those “Bible totin', mackeral snappin', Halleluia shoutin', rosary beadin', … folks who belong to one of those “other” churches. I thought we were all in this together. All headed in the same direction. All trying to weather the same kinds of storms. Aren't we all fighting the same worldly distractions? The same temptations? The same moments of doubt, financial worries, fears for our children? The same frustrations about government leaders, the DMV, and the times when it rains on our parades? Maybe you kneel and I stand when we are at prayer. Maybe I sing praises in a crystal cathedral with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir while you are humming, alone, in a forest glen. Maybe you study Scripture while I study Nature. Maybe you speak in tongues and I hardly speak at all. And maybe, just maybe, we are both on the right path.
Whether we are seeking forgiveness, or feeling depressed, or overcome with grateful praise, we are each addressing our thoughts to the same “Great Spirit”. So, thank you, Facebook, for being a place where we can all share the stories of our faith journeys. I think that's what we are supposed to be doing. When Jesus said, “go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel”, he did not mean we had to pack up and travel to Corinth or Rome or Ephesus. Or even to Rose Bud or Fort Smith or to Little Rock. He meant “share your stories” - those stories from the mountaintop or from the dark valley or from the neighbor's back yard. And from the lessons you have learned the hard way. Just keep talking the talk. And keep walking the walk by responding to the stories from others. And if you don't know where to begin, start by talking to YOUR holy spirit.
Peace be with you.
(Susan Ruland is a near 40 year resident of Heber Springs. She contributes “Susan Says” each week and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)