Mindlessly Scrolling Through Life

Sometimes I just mindlessly scroll through Facebook. With the flip of a finger, people’s lives spin by. There are amazing highs and incredibly deep lows. Just now, I glimpsed into the lives of my “friends” and scrolled by what they are facing…

  • Donna sadly reports that her cousin fell 40′ to his death while installing a billboard.
  • Jamie gladly shares that his sister is “teacher of the year.”
  • Lori told an emotional story of how her son came home heavy-hearted after buying a homeless man a meal.
  • Stefan gave a report from a Mt. Everest base camp of his journey up the mountain.
  • Leslee told of her cousin who lost their 27-year old daughter to cancer.
  • Leanna shared pictures of Isaac and Katy’s prom.

Cancer. Births. Weddings. Graduations. Death. Transitions. Boycotts. Anniversaries. Tragedies.

They all scroll by so quickly. For the person experiencing the high or the low, it’s a life-altering event. For me, usually it is nothing but a passing glimpse of information. Every now and then, I expend untold amounts of energy to cause my finger to move ever-so-slightly so I can indicate my “like,” letting that person know that I care, that I noticed, that I am somehow “with” them in their celebration or tragedy.

Don’t read too much into my sarcasm. I’m grateful for these Facebook glimpses into others’ lives. It enables me to stay informed and connected in ways that wouldn’t have been possible just ten years ago. I learned about James & Jana’s trip to Paris, heard about Judith’s sacrificial gift of a kidney to her father, and got to see the latest antics from twins Max & Moses or Mason & Greyson. I care about these friends and don’t have time or proximity to be in their lives every day—so Facebook helps fill the gap.

While Facebook fills a purpose, it also leaves me wanting. I can’t go deep with anyone when I just stay at a Facebook level. I celebrate from a distance but can’t give a hug or high-five. I have angst in my soul about a tragic life event, but I can’t be with them when they are crying or need an ear. Sometimes Facebook makes me feel helpless—because now I know what is happening, but I’m still too far removed to help.

I can’t be there for everyone—but I take comfort in the fact that I can be there for a few. Although I hated it when my brother-in-law got ALS, and I still don’t know why God allowed it to happen—it has been a deep honor and privilege to walk with my sister through her valley these past two and a half years. I could do little but listen and be present—but those two things mean so much to someone who is grieving. I couldn’t do much to help my friends, Mark and Laura, as they battled breast cancer, but I could take an afternoon and sit with them during her chemo treatment.

As I scroll through Facebook today and consider the extreme highs and deep lows of the people to whom I’m digitally connected, I ask myself these questions:

  • Who needs more than a “like” from me?
  • Who should I pray for? Do I actually believe in the power of prayer? Is prayer totally passive—or does it sometimes require action?
  • Who is in my close circle who I need to go beyond a surface Facebook level?
  • I can’t be there for everyone, but I can be there for someone. Who is that today?
  • Should I send a note to someone? A gift? Money?

I can keep mindlessly scrolling, and I probably will. But it might be a good practice to whisper a prayer each time I do: “God, show me who I need to go deeper with today.”

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Tim Stevens
Tim Stevens served as the executive pastor of Granger Community Church in Granger, IN, for twenty years before joining Vanderbloemen Search Group as the Director of the Executive Search Consultant Team where he helps churches and ministries around the world find their key staff. Tim has a passion for the local church and equipping leaders with practical advice and tools about church staffing and church leadership. He has co-authored three books with Tony Morgan, including Simply Strategic Stuff, Simply Strategic Volunteers, and Simply Strategic Growth, and authored three books of his own, including Fairness Is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles To Revolutionize Your Workplace. Connect with Tim at LeadingSmart.com.