Recently my favourite cousin showed up in Sri Lanka. She was a decade or more older than me but the one I had looked up to and was a role model to me. In fact she was the one I was closed with throughout my life, and one who had inspired me and practically intervened to bring out my talents to my mum’s delight. Needless to say she always ‘petted’ me too showering me with practical beautiful gifts.
I had met her after 18 years and I was thrilled. Since she was here for a wedding and only 3 days in town, we had so much to fit in.. and I had to catch up with her and her hubby. It was a whizz of a time and in the process I hadn’t taken a single picture with her. I had managed to take a picture each of her and of her husband. Thankfully her husband had clicked a few pictures but none of us took selfies. The detailed and visual memories of course are saved in my biological database!
It’s a day and age of social media.. Whether it be selfies or group pics, taking photos and sharing it has become the highlight of the day. Access to this has also become much easier – instant clicking and posting! Quite different from the day and age of using a film roll to take pictures, sparingly clicking given the expenses involved, waiting for the roll to finish before giving for developing, waiting for the prints to be developed before going again and picking them up and then to buy bulky photo albums to preserve these photos… And then wait for people to visit to show these photos!
So.. the taking and sharing of photos isn’t a ‘new thing’ but limits to every aspect of it have been pushed almost to the point of limitless. And then there is a ‘danger’ of a fine line between the healthy and obsessed.
Yes, I take selfies.. but often the selfies are when my friends overseas ask me for pictures or remind me that I haven’t updated my profile pictures for a while… I often post selfies once in a few weeks for this reason as it’s cheaper for me to change a profile picture than sending it to a number of people – so that I don’t waste valuable limited data.
When I reflect back, I have the least pictures with the ones I’m closest to. In fact I haven’t taken a picture with my brother for 6 years despite meeting him a few times every 2 years! I tend to get more intent with the ‘relational’ aspect than with the ‘memories’. I value precious moments with close ones and I don’t like to ‘interrupt’ those moments to pose for the camera. Yes I do have some lovely selfies with friends who come down from overseas and close friends at that – but it has to ‘fit in’ not ‘interrupt’.
A setback of this digital age is that we can easily hold onto every single memory and thus struggle when we have to ‘let go’ of a friendship or a loved one due to relationship breakup, betrayal, misunderstanding, death etc. Some friendships will not last no matter how much we try .. These every minute of every hang out selfies can be pretty detrimental in that matter.. how many images to search and delete!
There is another subtle danger is where in the desire of sharing life with loved ones and perhaps even with the desire to motivate or even challenge others, we can fall into the trap of ‘boasting’or show off all that we do. “Look look, we helped someone up” – even little things become ‘fame’ as we can show the ‘whole world’ what we have done. Yes, we cannot judge other peoples motives – whether they are indeed showing off or boasting or trying to motivate others by showing how easy it is or how it is done.. but God does know our hearts and He does search them.
Once I heard someone say that they post their ‘acts of charity’ on social media as the ‘donors’ wanted to ‘see’ them. Well, can the donors not get individual pictures to see the acts of charity or for accountability in spending? Perhaps yes, perhaps not.. But whatever that spurs us on in what we do, God knows and let us be wary that God will judge us. Jesus did say let not the left hand know what the right hand gives. What scriptures leap out at you at this moment? Are you getting selfie carried away or are you allowing God to lead you by His Spirit?
How would we feel if we were the recipients of this act of charity or the ministry? How would we like it if our ‘sob’ story of poverty or illness was splashed all over social media with the triumphant helper or donors being proud that they helped this person by perhaps giving a one off meal etc? Love your neighbour as yourself. If you wouldn’t mind the entire world knowing how you look like, your ‘need’ and how someone else did an act of kindness or ministered to you, then of course you have the right to ‘love’ your neighbour the same way I guess!
I’m not judging or coming to a conclusion in any of these scenarios, but I’m just trying to reflect – after all that is what this blog is about: “Reflections”! At the end of the day are we putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes before we show the world our selfies and memories?
Likewise are we sharing our memories with others to every minute detail? Then we may need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us why we are doing this? Is there any underlying insecurity or any other negative emotions that are an act of the fleshly nature? Ask God to search your heart for all anxieties.
Are we holding onto photos and thus allowing every memory to be alive and thus living in the ‘past’? Are we not allowing God to heal us and to give us a fresh new morning? For a believer, “sorrows may last for a night but joy comes in the morning”. Are you drowning in sorrow or self pity of the past or are you allowing God to say
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert – Isaiah 43:18-18
If God has shut the door, let it remain shut… However, not all doors that are shut are shut for ever.. if it is His will He will open that door later at the right time for His glory.. Not all doors that are open are of God either.
There are open doors, closed doors
and there are revolving doors too
Just make sure you aren’t gazing at the closed door of the past = if that is closed by God – and that you aren’t allowing the social media and technology of today to help you ‘dwell in the past’.
May we use every resource on hand for His glory and may we seek His wisdom to discern the narrow path!