This is Part 8 of a series titled Unseen. If you are just joining us, please start here.
I had a friend who was slightly more than an acquaintance. Our online interactions likely outnumbered our personal interactions. Both believers, we shared the same circle of friends, and though I didn’t know her very well, I loved what I did know of her.
I saw how she loved the Lord first and served her family faithfully. To my knowledge nothing had occurred that would cause tension in our relationship. But we women are really good at picking up on a strange feeling when things aren’t quite right.
I noticed she stopped “liking” my posts on Facebook, and I took offense. Rather than praying, I worried. You’ve never done that, right? Worried before praying?
The questions ran through my mind like a teleprompter. Why didn’t she like me? What had I done wrong? What should I do to make it better? Do I do anything at all?
I shared with my husband how much this bothered me, and he pointed out something I failed to realize. “You shared enough information online that she formed an opinion about you without knowing your heart. You thought you were friends, but you really weren’t.” He made another point I failed to consider. Was it possible that some of my posts made her feel judged?
The online connection doesn’t allow for us to have a true conversation. Silent thoughts fester. She didn’t know my heart. If she did, she wouldn’t stop liking me because we held different opinions on certain issues. As I’m feeling judged, I’m judging her. Quietly in my heart.
Online, we can share to a point of alienating our friends. Our hearts can’t be seen through a screen. When we are communicating through online relationships, we begin to see issues, not the heart behind the issues. We see issues not the person.
Scrolling through my newsfeed in the carpool line, I saw this friend posted an adorable picture of her kids. My thumb moved to the like button then stopped. “Wait, I’m not going to like her stuff because she doesn’t like mine.”
My thumb retreated. “What?” I might have actually said this out loud. It was that shocking to me. This was completely out of character for me. It felt nasty, and I wanted to rid myself of it fast.
My head, heart, and thumb fought each other. Shame and guilt coursed through my veins. My silent thoughts and inner battles changed shape. My sins were multiplying like a gremlin exposed to water.
An alarm blared in my heart. The Holy Spirit’s usual gentle whisper turned on the surround sound. The masks were removed, and I saw my sin in its raw and heinous form. I was bitter, angry, jealous and was not viewing her as a child of Christ like I would have only days before when I thought she liked me. Not only is this not fair to her, but it isn’t fair to me.
I found myself caught in the downward spiral of sin. Loneliness again. The alarm quieted, and the whisper of the Holy Spirit became familiar again. Look to the Unseen.
In that instant, I turned from the seen to the unseen. I fixed my eyes on Him and prayed he would give me eyes to love her as he loves her. That he give me the ability to love because that is what he commands me to do. That he forgive me for not loving him enough to love others like he commands.
In an age where we seem to see everything on full display, there is value in looking to what we can’t see. The Unseen in the seen.
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV) 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
At the root of our desire to be known and liked is that we were created for relationship. Relationship with God and relationship with others.
I post my triumphant moments so they will see the good in me. I post my misery to gather together commiserators who will cheer me on. What I want is relationship because this is in part what I’ve been created for. However, my counterfeit transparency negates the authentic relationships I most desperately long for.
Our true desire is to be seen for who we really are. We long to be known. Really known. And liked. Yet our Heavenly Father knows the depth of our hearts, the good and the bad, and rejoices over us with singing still. Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten this, and now we need reminding.
Are we known? Are we liked? Each of these questions shares the same root. Insecurity rooted in fear. This fear root loves to grow into pride, jealousy, and discontentment. He knew we would struggle with these questions, so His Word tells us constantly not to fear.
Are we known? Yes, we’re known. We are a King’s daughter. We are known well by the Unseen King. We are more than liked. We were created for more than a like. We were created to be the daughter of a King. And this is how we can be the friend we desire to have. By remembering whose we are. Knowing whose we are gives us the security to love others without fear.
We were created for relationship, with Him and with others.
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