Oceans Deep

Finding & Following Jesus in the Deep End of Life

Month: June 2015

Antisocial Media

Hello, readers!

Please forgive the slight duplicitous-ness in this post, but . . . is anyone else a little tired of Facebook, Instagram, or social media in general? I ask this somewhat rhetorically, because surely I can’t be the only one suffering from social media fatigue.

The full weight of my fatigue hit me the other day as I was scrolling mindlessly while the babies napped, and I came across a photo album composed of some 50-odd pictures and a kitschy “Summah is in Session!” title from a girl I barely knew in college. It felt weird to see her pictures, all these snapshots of her life and her children. I’m not sure I would recognize her out in public, and I’m sure she wouldn’t recognize me. It felt unnatural, wrong even, to be given such a window into her life.

It sent me to reminiscing on the days when you had to earn the right to know someone’s life, to see their pictures and hear about their vacations, new jobs, new relationships, frustrations, and heartaches. Those days before we all started plastering our lives online for nearly anyone and everyone to see, the stars of our own version of “People Magazine.” Mind you, I’m preaching to the choir here, as I have also documented plenty of my own life events online.

I thought about the days when I used to gather at a just-married friend’s new home and flip through fresh-off-the-press wedding photos, cup of coffee in hand. Sitting Indian-style on her couch, a peculiar-smelling relic from her husband’s bachelor days, we’d laugh about the funny candid pictures and talk about how delectable the wedding cake was. Or her crazy mother-in-law. Or that unattractive, unaware groomsman who just wouldn’t stop hitting on me because, I suppose, he thought I dug his “Deliverance”-inspired speech and affect. Not a chance.

Ten years later and neck-deep in this busy, sometimes lonely season of motherhood, I find myself craving community more than ever before. My heart feels heavy as I reflect on 10 years of social media use, because it’s painfully clear that while I know a lot of facts about a lot of people, I do not know people very deeply—not in the way I want to know and be known in a friendship. Not in the way I’d like to share my joys and sorrows, sitting Indian-style on a friend’s couch with a cup of coffee in hand (though now the couch’s peculiar smell is no-doubt that of spit-up).

Those friends I used to call every few weeks, to check in and chat for a good hour? Now I see their lives presented neatly and cleanly online, and they see mine . . . and the entropic nature of life takes over, and those phone calls become less and less common.

Isn’t it tragically ironic how “social” media has turned genuine, social behavior into a desert mirage? We are by design social creatures (introverts and extroverts alike!), created by God for community and fellowship with one another. I’ve found that these tools promise such fellowship, yet often come up wanting.  Our social media revolution reminds me of the sexual revolution of the 1960s: we’re giving it all away, so free and fun . . . yet we aren’t getting what we actually need, and we’re harming our souls in the process. It’s exhausting and leaves me with an uncomfortable, hollow feeling.

I miss the days of true relationship with others—when communicating meant picking up a phone and planning an outing. Texting serves a wonderful purpose, don’t get me wrong. I’m simply sad to see it replace more intimate forms of communication. You can hide in a text, an e-mail, or a Facebook message. You can edit your photos, your Tweets, your captions. It’s a little harder to edit your voice and your tone, the pain simmering just below the surface of your eyes, that catch in your throat. My mom knows from the moment I say “hey” if I’m doing alright or not. We miss a great deal of context—the good stuff!—when we relate via electronics.

As a side note, perhaps I am burdened by the cause and effect of social media more than others given this season of life: I’m a mom of two precious, rambunctious tots. All my family lives 2,500 miles away. And my husband often works long hours on hard days. Phew. My beloved self-sufficiency has taken a hit (by God’s good design, mind you, but that’s for another post), and I find myself longing for support more than ever before! If you can’t relate, be very thankful :-).

At any rate, whether social media has hurt or helped your relationships, I think we can all benefit from the simple yet profound words of Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Relationships are so important to God—important enough that He sent His son to earth, wrapping His Heavenly form in earthly flesh and giving Him 33 years to walk in the trenches with us . . . that He might carry our burdens and show us how to carry one another’s. Indeed, after telling us to love the Lord with all our souls and minds (the first and greatest commandment), Jesus said, “And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:39 NIV, emphasis added).

I don’t know about your news feed, but I’m seeing very little of this lived out online. More often than not, I see a lot of self-aggrandizement, political bickering, and hateful speech regarding the myriad of social and cultural landmines our country currently faces. Often after spending time on Facebook, I take a step back and think, do I feel more connected and secure now? Or do I feel more insecure, more prideful, or more left out? In brutal honesty, I find the latter to be true more often than I’d like!

But just when I’m ready to throw in the towel and walk away from social media altogether, I see pictures pop up from my church: a sea of young, energetic faces, the faces of children who attended our kid’s camp—and my heart could burst from the pure glory of such innocence and beauty. Or I receive a message from a longtime friend, saying thank you for some words of encouragement that were written into her heart and able to lift her spirits for a day. Or I read the words of a friend, speaking kindness into my day and lifting my own heart.

In these moments, it’s clear to me that these technological tools of ours—while often used for self-promoting, unkind purposes—are freely available for use in building one another up, carrying each other’s burdens, and using words to love and encourage one another. If we are willing to set aside our own deep pride and gnawing needs, we can use social media in our quest to live like Christ and bring glory to His name. I confess I haven’t always done this, and sometimes my own insecurity has gotten the better of me—but it is a goal for which I am striving!

So whether we connect online or in person, let us strive to love and support one another, bringing breath and heartbeat to Galatians 6:2. Words have power, and every word has a consequence. May it be said of us that our words bring consequences of the holy kind—refreshment, encouragement, hope, love

Throwback Thursday

Today I thought I’d do something a little differently and share an old post. I originally posted this on my previous blog New Every Morning, which I have long since made private. 

With Mother’s Day and all our birthday celebrations lately, I’ve been dwelling on how thankful I am for my babies. They are promises fulfilled–living, breathing manifestations of promises made by the Lord to me. It takes my breath away to think of His kindness and compassion, and His unending faithfulness to make good on His word.

But if you’re not familiar with our story, then you don’t know that it was a long time coming, an agonizing wait of nearly 3 years. To some, that may sound like a lifetime. To others, it may seem like the blink of an eye…some of my dear friends have waited far longer than that. The point is, however, that when your mama heart is sparked and your longing for a child goes into high gear, even a month is a long time to wait for the good news of two pink lines or a phone call telling you that you’ve been matched with a child.

I wrote the following words 3 1/2 years ago, and at the time, I had no earthly idea what God was getting ready to do. He was gearing up to exceed all my expectations–to do the “immeasurably more” than all I could ask or imagine (see Ephesians 3:20).

I share this with a heart that longs for you to be encouraged–if you’re in the discouraging boat of infertility, I hope our story will make your heart long for what God can do in your life. But whatever your struggle, I hope these words will point you toward your Heavenly Father and encourage you to lean into Him in faith a little bit deeper.

The “I” Word

December 2011
I’ve been wanting to write about a certain topic for a while now–but I’m not even sure where to begin. Ernest Hemingway said “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Well, this certainly feels like bleeding. I want to talk about that grotesque, heartbreaking “I” word.


Even typing the word makes me feel sick. It’s one of those words that shouldn’t exist. Infertility shouldn’t exist. But exist it does . . .

And Aaron and I are dealing with it. It is all at once terrifying and liberating to write that sentence. To be sure, this is a major contributor to the emotions and issues of faith I expressed in my last couple of posts. So let me start from the beginning, and I’ll do my best to explain in a clear fashion (but no promises, as my mind is anything but clear when it comes to this struggle).

I’m a person who always thought I’d have children some day, but the thought never occupied my mind until very recent times. To be perfectly frank, I was too driven to think about wanting children–my “to do” list is always full of goals to accomplish, and I’ve been perfectly happy to think about myself, and Aaron, when God brought him into my life.

Still, as law school was nearing its end and our marriage moved towards restoration, we decided to do what lots of couples do: not “try” per se, but rather let nature take its course, as the saying goes. Doing so was a little scary but exciting as well, and the majority of me thought it would happen easily . . . but the deeper, honest part of my heart had a gut feeling that this, too, would be a struggle we would face.

Sure enough, after 9 months of nothing, I decided to discuss the issue with my doctor at a regular check-up. With a false and fragile nonchalance, I told her what was going on. Almost before the words could leave my lips, she began rattling off the next steps for a basic fertility work-up. It would seem there’s no middle ground when it comes to TTC (“trying to conceive”). You’re either all in or all out, and my doctor assumed I was all in. Going through a whole battery of tests wasn’t exactly at the top of my list, but I figured it couldn’t hurt, right?

Well, after various and sundry poking and prodding, everything came back normal for both Aaron and me. A very slight elevation in one hormone led my doctor to think I may have a mild case of PCOS (poly cystic ovary syndrome), but all the other tests pointed away from this. Still, even the mention of something like PCOS sent my head spinning. My doctor asked if I wanted to try fertility drugs, as it seems like doctors hand those things out like candy these days–but we weren’t ready for that step, especially considering that everything was normal.

So, feeling a little uneasy but mostly hopeful, we just proceeded to live life and hope for a blessing each month . . . but month after month after month, we faced nothing but disappointment. And every month, I was so torn about how to proceed–to use the plethora of TTC products available or just forget about it completely? I felt so powerless when not making an extra effort to “try,” and yet those products (I’m speaking of things like ovulation predictor kits, etc.) only stressed me out all the more. Facing such heartbreak and darkness each month is exhausting–I’d no sooner regain my legs of faith than the next wave of crushing disappointment would hit and knock me back down to square one. It’s exhausting even writing about. . .

Now, it’s been a year since that initial doctor’s visit–and obviously still no baby. I recently went to another doctor, almost for a “second opinion” on our situation. After carefully going through all the tests, etc., she was quick and frank with the diagnosis: unexplained infertility. I was able to keep it together during my visit, but of course collapsed into tears the moment I reached my car. It’s not as though this diagnosis was a surprise–the medical definition of infertility is trying for a year with no result–and we were months passed the year mark. But still, to hear something so bluntly and concretely–simply and ineloquently put, it’s hard.

So that’s where we are–it’s difficult to discuss, and yet I’ve always wanted this blog to be a place of honesty and genuineness. I could allow my pride to take over and hold all of this inside . . . but I’d rather be forthright and transparent, as painful as that is, because in the end I long to have a story that will point to God’s power, glory and provision in a supernatural way.

I’ve been surprised at how much of a toll this struggle is taking on my faith–it feels as though this is the “last straw.” I’ve managed to hold tightly to my Heavenly Father through so much over the past few years, and now I’ve hit a wall. Every month, every new pregnancy announcement, every birth–it all tears at my faith and is used by the enemy to get me to doubt God’s goodness to me. And when I really think about what it means for me to doubt God’s goodness to me, I’m overwhelmed with conviction–God has been ridiculously gracious and kind towards me, and has blessed me with more than I could ever deserve.

Isn’t that just like our enemy?? Luring us away from the truth and seducing us until we’re laser-focused on the one thing in our lives we don’t readily have–and feel we most certainly deserve. But you know what? If the Bible shows us anything at all, it’s that God is wholly in charge of wombs. It’s astonishing, really, to look at how many times the LORD used the longing for a child in order to deepen the faith of His children. Look at Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth, just to name a few. God can absolutely open a womb, even if it is seemingly closed.

That’s why I find our diagnosis of “unexplained infertility” a little amusing, really–is anything unexplained to our Heavenly Father? No–nothing is uncertain or unexplained to my God, the great “revealer of mysteries” (see Daniel 2:47). And how thankful I am that God is not bound by any man-made diagnosis, “for nothing is impossible with God” (see Luke 1:37).

Naturally, facing infertility is not something I ever wanted to do, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But right now, in our lives, this is a tool God is using to perfect our faith. Malachi 3:3 says that God “will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.” (emphasis mine). On most days, I feel as though I’m in the refiner’s fire–sometimes on an hourly basis! But the truth is, the LORD is using the lack of a baby to test and deepen my faith in incredible ways. And He’s revealing and rooting out some serious places of doubt–doubt that I desperately want to do away with forever.

As hard as it is to wait on God’s perfect timing, I know that I’m learning lessons about Him that will be with me for the rest of my life. I know too that these are lessons I never would have learned had we never struggled with having a baby. I feel confident that God is going to bless us one day . . . but until that time, I have so much to learn about Him. And I know that I can wholly trust my God and Creator, who knows me more intimately than anyone else possibly could. I’m so excited to see what He has in store for us, and I long for Him to dazzle us with His provision as only He can!

Ok, so I know that was long – and I thank you for reading and hearing me out. If you’re the praying type, I would sure appreciate your prayers, that my faith would not fail but would increase through this time of testing. There is nothing like the support of other believers! So I’ll end with some of my most favorite and dearly-loved scripture:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; 
I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. 
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you . . .”

~Isaiah 43:2-4

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