Last night I was having a couple of conversations with different people at the same time. Trust me. It can be done. One of the friends was having a ridiculous earworm song fight with me via a messaging service, while the other was making me giggle as we ranted and vented together in an hilarious fashion. These two people – although they don’t know each other – share an ability to make me laugh until I cry at the content in their messages. Sometimes we fall victim of autocorrect or fat finger syndrome which results in the kind of sentences that used to reduce us a family to fits of giggles when we played Consequences in the 1970s at Christmas.
One of the friends once asked me if I’d been ‘stroking the car while watching Poirot’ and then corrected that to ‘Do not STRIKE the car,’ then ‘STROKE,’ then ‘Good grief.’ Last night, the shoe was on the other foot as I confidently tried to tell the other friend that I’d refused a cup of tea at my Mum & Dad’s house and my mother said that proved ‘I was Will.’ Cue snorts of giggles and outbreaks of ‘I think I’d better leave right now’ gags. Sometimes autocorrect has a sense of timing that makes you wonder whether it as a sense of mischief. Well of course it doesn’t, but it’s still very funny.
I’ve recently seen a number of posts from people on other social media platforms explaining in great depth why they will be closing their account. More often than not, it’s a strange feeling to read those posts and wonder what motivates it. I mean, I get why social media can be frustrating, but to me, if you don’t like it, just go and find something else you do like to do. Not difficult.
But there’s something else. Quite often these posts will allude to the fact that they’ve got nothing from it. People will do the same when they join a club and then leave, or go to a church and come away. ‘I didn’t get anything from that,’ they’ll say. And my question back is always going to be the same, ‘But what do you give to it?’ It’s a very fine line this old giving/receiving thing, but I’m pretty sure you only really get out what you’re prepared to put into something.
These are not the only reasons to join anything but they are more likely to be driven from the heart. Here’s the truth – wait for it: social media isn’t bad. But then it isn’t good either. It is just a thing. It is what people put into it that makes it what is and what it could be.
This has been a weird Christmas. I’m currently calling it the #NoPigsInBlankets Christmas because I’ve been too ill to eat any of the things that I would normally love. I’m not the only one having a slightly weird Christmas, whether it’s through bereavement, serious illness or life changing events, or work related call outs. My illness is very tiny in scale compared to those things. But it did mean I had a very quiet with no outwardly celebratory Christmas
I’ll tell you something thought. Watching other people’s Christmas unfolding on Facebook was one of the most beautiful things I’d seen in a long time. From the opening of stockings in the early mornings, to the family meals, walks across moorland, fens and hills, seeing children on their new bicycles (I LOVE that), to the happy faces all marking a snapshot in time, my Facebook friends created a beautiful community to be a part of. I felt like I’d not missed out on Christmas at all.
The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft said on Christmas Day in his sermon, that people don’t have to forget their sorrow or their pain or their questions, even in the joy of Christmas. We don’t come to escape, he said.
He’s right. The child in the manger, his mother and father anxiously watching over him as all new parents would, probably had a few questions of their own. It must have been baffling and bewildering when all those shepherds burst into the stable. And yet, there was something joyful in that moment for all as they shared the birth of this most precious child with the community beyond the walls of the stable door.
Share your good news. Share the joy. Don’t ignore the pain and bewilderment or pretend it’s not there. That doesn’t work. Trust me. But when you look for the light you will find it, when you shine your light, someone else will see the way to go. And you’ll never know – they may need to see your light just as much as you needed to see theirs.