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The Lure of a Like

Asian-woman-pointing-like-button  FB like

“People like you more than they like me,” I jokingly complained to my husband.

“What are you talking about?” my husband asked.

I explained to him that he had more Facebook “likes” on his fan page than I did.  He scoffed at the whole idea.  “Maybe you just post too much.”

I pondered over his conclusion.  Maybe I do post too much.  That led me to ask myself, “Why do I post?”   As I’ve reflected on that question, I’ve come to a lot of conclusions.  All of our family is far away.  Many of our friends live quite long distances away as well.  For me, posting is a way to keep family and friends in the loop about the major happenings of our lives.  With so much negativity all around us, for me, it’s a way to celebrate positive people, places and things.  Most importantly though, it’s been a way for me to not only share what God’s given me to share, but also to learn and get support from other believers.

While all of this might sound fairly reasonable to many, I must admit that I have some other much less noble reasons for posting on Facebook.  I like the “like.”   I’ve noticed how different I feel when I post a blog and there’s no interest in it, opposed to posting one where there has been a lot.  There’s a validation that comes from knowing that people “like” what you’ve posted.

There’s also the marketing aspect to Facebook that you can’t get away from—especially if you are selling anything at all.  As an author, it’s important to connect with readers to let them know about your work.  It’s surely an art not to beat people over the head with what you’re selling, but to gently rouse up interest and support.  We can also endorse products and services with the “like.”  This, in turn, generates more business for the thing we “like.”  We can also find out about new products, get promotional deal and use coupons—all through social media outlets like Facebook.

I began to do a little Google search about the psychology behind the Facebook “like.”  Studies have discovered that Facebook can actually trigger the brain’s reward center, much like food, sex, acceptance, and money.  I wonder if that’s why, for some of us, Facebook has an almost addictive quality to it.  We use it because it gives us a feeling of satisfaction.

For others, I shall call the Facebook lurkers, who never “like” hardly anything, but always see everything.  They pride themselves on not posting or rarely posting because they’re “above that.”  They’re too private to post, but peer into everyone else’s lives.  Strangely, they are just as fascinated at others’ posts as the average Facebook Joe but have convinced themselves that they are much too enlightened to engage in petty posting.  In fact, over the years I’ve been told, “You are always on Facebook!”  I always chuckle to myself, wondering how they know.  In spite of it all, even the lurkers find pleasure by observing and not “liking” much of anything.

A study found that we get more satisfaction and experience less loneliness when we receive a comment from someone on Facebook as opposed to a “like.”  Some FB users have stopped “liking” posts all together and just post comments, finding more satisfaction from that type of interaction than a simple “like.”  An obvious takeaway is that, generally speaking, Facebook posting helps us to feel more connected to one another–especially posting comments.

Lately, I’ve realized that while striving to stay connected, support others and market for my upcoming novel, I cannot allow the lure of the “like” to overshadow the ultimate approval I should be seeking.  My daily aim should be to please God.  Galatians 1:10 says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” When we seek to please Him first, we get a lasting satisfaction, not only in our brains, but in our body, spirit and soul.  His approval lasts far beyond the fleeting pleasure of a “like” or comment on social media.

Often the things that receive the most nods from others are the very things that can be detrimental to us.  James 4:4 says, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”  We live in the world but we’re not supposed to be of it, meaning that we don’t live to gratify the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and succumb to the pride of life.

Another verse in John 15:19 says, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  We can be assured that when we truly live for Him, there will be many times that we have to walk alone.  There will be many times when we won’t be liked; in fact, we will be hated.  It is okay though.  He has overcome the world!  He loves us now to eternity.

I like Facebook, and many of us do.  Most, if not all of us, love to be affirmed.  We like it when others think well of us.  It feels good to be validated and help others do the same.  However, we have to be careful not to let the lure of a like, whether from social media or other areas in our lives, keep us from seeking His approval in everything that we are, do and say.  He is our Creator, and He is the only One who knows all that we need and desire.  He is the only One who can quench our thirst and satisfy us in every area of our lives.

Knowing that God is looking at my life in its entirety, would He push the “like” button for who I am?  What about you?  Is He pleased with you?  Not just pleased with what you’re doing, but is He pleased with the condition of your heart?  Yes, He accepts us as we are, but He wants us to love and serve Him first and with our whole heart.  He is looking for a life that is dedicated to Him, not a perfect one.  He wants us for Himself.  Will you trust Him with your life today and always, not concerned with who likes it or not?

Blessings,

MaRita

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   —John 3:16

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What Kind of Friend are You?

friends-and-coffee-saidaonline

Are you the type of friend that you’d want in your life?

(Deep breath.)  I’m ashamed to say it, but I haven’t always been the type of friend that I’d want in my life.  Now that I’ve confessed that, I can also admit that I’ve always tried to be a good friend.  Unfortunately, trying isn’t the best declaration to make in friendship.  Some things, we just have to do.

Most of us love to recite the Golden Rule to our children, but how often do we really live this out in our own lives when it comes to friendship?  Before you quickly dismiss this, consider it carefully.  It’s a biblical principle.  Luke 6:31 says, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”  What is it that stops us from sometimes treating others the way that we want to be treated?  Often, it boils down to our selfishness, fear, jealousy and/or insecurities.

1. A good friend is not selfish (self-centered).  He or she loves enough to listen.  If we find ourselves constantly dumping our problems and stories out on a friend, and not bothering to ask what’s going on in his or her life, we need to stop and think.  If we find ourselves interrupting or not paying attention to a friend, we need to change that behavior.  Regardless of what place we find ourselves in life, we all can learn something from someone else, especially a friend, when we listen. James tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen.

2. We should be available and not only when it’s convenient for us.  As a friend, we sometimes should be willing to change our plans to help or celebrate a friend.   How many times have you been willing to go out of your way for a friend—without expecting anything in return?  Jonathan and David’s friendship is a model of friendship in the Bible.  Jonathan loved David as his own soul.  Jonathan was willing to sacrifice for David and vice versa.  Some of the most rewarding experiences in life aren’t convenient, and they are made by actively choosing to put others before ourselves.

3. A good friend is honest.  Almost everyone expects honesty, but how often do we give it?  Being transparent with a true friend brings them closer together.  Putting on deceptive masks and being dishonest brings division. Lying is an abomination to Him, but we that speak and live truthfully are His delight (Proverbs).  In addition, Ephesians tells us to let no corrupt communication come from our mouths.  We should be bearers of the truth, careful to always speak and act in love.

4. A good friend doesn’t gossip or backbite.  Most know how it feels to be betrayed by someone we thought liked us.  It is hurtful.  As a result, we should never be ones to hurt others.  Gossip is tempting for a host of reasons, but the end is destructive—not only to the person who is being talked about but also to the person who gossips.  Conversations meant to stay between two friends should stay that way (unless someone’s safety is involved). Proverbs 16:28 says, “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”

5. A good friend is not jealous.  If we think a friend is jealous of us, we need to pray for him or her.  Often, when people are jealous, they believe that someone else has or is equipped with something that they feel they deserve. Jealous people are often people who are always the victim.  Asking God for wisdom in situations like these is crucial.  There are times when a person is delivered from jealousy, and unfortunately, there are times when parting ways in a friendship is necessary.  If we discover that we are having jealous feelings toward a friend, it is important that we pray for the ugly emotion to dissipate.  As we all know, jealousy is destructive.  Over the years, I experienced twinges of jealous feelings here and there for something a friend may have had or experienced that I hadn’t.  However, it never remained long, and the key has been to focus on Jesus and His Word.  It zaps the jealousy out at the root!  When we focus on Him, there is no room for jealousy or any other negative emotion.  His Word is sharper than a two-edged sword! We won’t covet anything that anyone else has.  We are thankful for how God created us, what He’s provided for us, and what He has for us to do.  He had created each one of us in His image.  James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”  It is up to each one of us to be on guard against jealousy.  We can be the type of friend we want in our lives when we’re able to truly and sincerely celebrate with a friend, as well as mourn with them.  Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”
  6. A good friend maintains some level of contact.  This is an area where I’ve been challenged in, but hopefully, I’ve improvedJ.  Nevertheless, we need to reach out to friends, at least every now and then, to catch up.  People have different expectations about contact, so it’s important to clarify to one another what kind of interaction works for you.  Then, he or she should share what they are comfortable with as far as their expectations.  For example, some people don’t like text communications, while others prefer it.  The bottom line is that one person shouldn’t bear the weight of carrying the friendship.

7. A good friend provides support.  I remember when my book released.  I had a few friends who never purchased one book.  It hurt me beyond words because I knew that they were aware of what it took for me to accomplish that goal.  However, it opened my eyes to how I hadn’t supported someone in the past.  Though my intentions were to support, I let other things distract me—as I’m sure was the case with my book release.  We must not only expect support from others when we go through good and bad times.  We must also be there for our friends through the good and the bad.

8. A good friendship can withstand long times without seeing each other.  I haven’t seen some of my closest friends in years, but things haven’t changed between us.  It’s not about the quantity of time but the quality of the relationship.

9. Finally, a good friend respects the friend, not for the title, position, or assets.  In other words, a friend isn’t someone who’s using the other person in any way to advance themselves or their agenda.  True friendships are unpolluted by agendas.  Healthy friendships aren’t forged when one person latches on to another because of what he or she thinks she can get or give.

There are many more things we can think about when examining our friendships, but a good starting point is asking the question: What kind of friend am I?  When we look inward, a lot of issues will resolve, and we will find ourselves in the midst of joyful, healthy, and lasting friendships.