False Intimacy & Social Media

This week I wanted to talk about intimacy, both real and perceived. In this first post I will focus on the concept of false intimacy and how social media plays a role.

Over the summer I had my first unwanted experience with someone I met online. No, this was not a romantic encounter! This was someone I initially met through blogging and who I eventually met in person. This person used social media to “connect” with me. They would facebook, Tweet, text, call and communicate with me here on my blog.

At first I just chalked it up to this person being a little overly active with social media.But when they sought me out in person and continually reached out via electronic communication to “connect” with me, I realized I had a problem on my hands.

It became apparent to me that this person had overly identified with me through the things I had shared on my blog and facebook. This “relationship” was not reciprocal.

I had very little personal knowledge of this person and yet they spoke of how deeply I had impacted their life and how close and “connected” they felt to me. As I put the pieces together it dawned on me, this was not healthy behavior.

We live in a world of instant connection. Thanks to innovators like Steve Jobs, we have devices that allow us to speak, text, email, chat, tweet and more at the touch of a button.

We can publish our inner most thoughts and feelings in a Blog, share our funniest or most embarrassing experiences on YouTube and communicate with friends and family all over the world in real time courtesy of social media like Twitter and Facebook.

While this makes life easier and better in some respects, it has also made things much more complicated and convoluted. Social media has done amazing things in creating community, communication and thought provoking dialogue. It has also helped to create a false sense of intimacy.

How exactly?

Social media allows for several things to happen.
1. We can create our own image or public persona. This is not always an accurate portrayal of who we are and leads others to believe we are someone we are not.
2. It allows us to become voyeuristic by peering into others lives and being an observer rather than a participant.
3. Creates relationships that are one – sided based on knowing things about someone versus firsthand knowledge and experience.

Don’t get me wrong here, I love social media and believe it is here to stay, but I have had to rethink my strategy and how I engage with others online.

I have met many people online that challenge and encourage me in my walk with the Lord and I am so thankful for them. I have also encountered people who frankly creep me out and make me want to delete my facebook page!

I believe the key in using social media is discernment. As my experience this summer has taught me, reading about a persons thoughts, feelings or experiences in a blog does not equal a relationship.

Be careful as you navigate in and among social media. Guard your heart always, for it is the wellspring of life.

Stop by the couch on Friday, as I’ll tackle real intimacy as it relates to social media and the development of online relationships.


Boundaries for Dummies

Today begins a weeklong series on Boundaries.

Before we jump in, let’s take a minute and define boundaries and then we can talk about how to apply this to life and relationships.

Psychologically speaking, a boundary is like a property line. It denotes the beginning and end of something. A boundary takes on spatial, behavioral, verbal and personal space characteristics as it pertains to relationships.

These types of boundaries are intangible but take shape in the form of beliefs, perceptions, convictions, and understandings.

Boundaries are not an excuse to live behind an impenetrable wall like a hermit in order to avoid being hurt in relationship.
Boundaries are not designed to keep people isolated and alone or to be used in retaliation to intentionally hurt another person.

When personal boundaries are established and enforced in a healthy manner, they help to facilitate mutual respect and trust while creating a sense of “other-ness” within the relationship.

Boundaries that are too loose lead to being walked on like a door mat and boundaries that are too strict leave you secluded, unreachable and alone.

In typical boundary violations, it is commonly the offender who denies, justifies or blames others for the boundary crossing. These violations can range from trivial to severe and over time can be debilitating and destructive to the relationship.

I’m sure we all have many examples of times when someone close to us violated, disrespected or ignored our personal boundaries.

Here are just a few examples.

Interrupting someone after they ask you not to
Willfully intruding on someone’s privacy without permission
Telling others personal information that someone asked you to keep private
Spending significant money without consulting your partner
“Forgetting” your partner’s request that you call if you’ll be working late

I recently had a conversation with a friend who said she has a hard time with boundaries. Not the concept of boundaries so much, but the implementation of them.

My friend is relational to the core and a people pleaser. She has lived most of her life being manipulated and managed by people who have taken advantage of her.
In her mind enforcing her personal boundaries felt offensive to who she is as a “people person”.

So this begs the question, can I be a “Christian” and have boundaries?

In a word, YES.

Psalm 16 is reflective of a life lived within the boundary lines that were established by God for a holy life. David sings about living within the boundaries assigned by the Lord and the rest and peace that come with staying within those boundaries.

When we live and operate within the boundary lines with God and others we are able to rest secure knowing that we are responding to one another in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord and is appropriate and respectful for the individuals involved.

I hope you will stop by the couch this week, as we will be talking about boundaries as it relates to kids, social media, online interactions, parent/child relationships, marriage and all the spaces in between.

How have you experienced your boundaries being violated and how did you feel when it happened?

Grace & Peace ~ Karen

Life is a Balancing Act

Life is a balancing act.

When we are living in balance and we are managing our time and
responsibilities wisely, we can navigate through the obstacles of life with
little more than a wobble.

But more often than not, we find ourselves juggling jobs, families and ministry. We spend our days running from event to event wishing for more hours in the day and running carpool like a NASCAR qualifier.

If you are like me you may end up taking on more and more until one day you reach a breaking point and discover that you cannot in fact do it all.

Our lives are full, and many of the things we do are meaningful and significant. These things bring us satisfaction and are usually tied to our vocation or ministry calling.

But a word of caution – even these deeply satisfying things can leave us stranded and struggling on the high wire if we are not careful.

We live in a world full of urgent requests and demands for our time.

I often allow my boundaries to be violated in areas that we I am passionate about, for fear that if I don’t do __________, than it won’t get done at all.

The reality is that we live over committed lifestyles, not always by necessity but often by choice.

This is dangerous and can cost us in the long run in a few key areas.

1. When we make “doing” a priority, we do not create space for God. We miss out on hearing from God because we lack the ability or willingness to be still and hear His voice. We are too busy “doing” for God, instead of being “with” Him.

2. When we are in perpetual motion trying to keep all our proverbial “balls in the air” we lack perspective. We cannot have long term focus when we are staring at the thing that is right in front of us.

3. When we are too busy we miss out on the opportunity for relationship with God, our spouses, children and friends. We short- change not only ourselves but also those with whom we enjoy relationship. Any relationship worth having takes time and intentionality.

4. When we spend too much time on the high wire of life, we end up depleted. When the focus of what we do is outward, than the inner life suffers.

These areas can be difficult to look at they were for me. This process started about 2 months ago and initially I went kicking and screaming.

When I finally took it to the Lord and really began to look at the areas of my life where I felt like a hamster on a wheel, I became more willing to let God speak into my life in those areas.

Over time what I discovered is that often the areas of my life I am most passionate about are the ones that drain me dry. Not because they are wrong or bad, but because I serve and pour myself into them with reckless abandon. This has taken a toll on my family and me.

So, in an effort to climb down off the high wire, I am taking a summer sabbatical from my ministry.

After spending the last 4 years in school pursuing my degrees in Psychology, MA.MFT, 4 years as a worship leader in church, countless women’s retreats, in addition to being a wife and a mom …I am taking a break.

I realized this spring that I was serving out of depletion and was lacking perspective. I am looking forward to my three months of rest, refreshment and fun with my family.

I hope that you are encouraged to look at your life from a fresh perspective and consider the ways you might create space in your life to recharge.

You can still find me on the couch this summer and I’ll be at Caffe Santoro’s every Monday from 9-11 for some coffee and conversation about life, faith and the spaces in between.

Keep up with me on facebook and twitter, I’d love to hear from you!

Grace & Peace ~ Karen

Sacred Companion

I know that today is Valentines Day and I promise that this blog will not be a tribute to Cupid, romance or chocolate. For as long as I can remember Valentines Day has left me feeling that somehow my relationships are lacking something. Is it intimacy, excitement or something deeper?
I would like to toss out the idea that maybe we experience disillusionment with Valentines Day (and maybe life in general) because we lack intimacy with God.
We go through life running from relationship to relationship in an attempt to fill up our emotional tank.
Over time we become depleted and begin looking for a quick fix to get us through.
We try to find satisfaction in our job, our hobbies, in food, alcohol and anything else that distracts us from the inner gnawing of discontent.
What causes this discontent? It’s actually pretty simple.
We were created to be in relationship, and specifically created to be in relationship with God. He designed us to desire companionship and to know and be known by Him.
He made us in His image, to reflect His glory and to walk closely in fellowship with Him through the Holy Spirit.
Stay with me here – I am not about to go all Hare Krishna on you!!
When we seek to have our emotional needs met in other relationships before we go to God with our hearts, our hurts and our needs – we cheat ourselves out of the fullness of God’s love through relationship. We live in a “gotta have it now” society, so we look for ways to stop the hurt, pain and loneliness rather than going to God with our feelings and asking Him to meet us in our need.
The Lord desires to have a relationship with you – His beloved.
He is a jealous God, who wants you heart and soul.
Will you allow the creator of the universe to woo you today?

2 Corinthians 13:14
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.