I love social media. I love it! I've heard so many people complain about it. So many people say "oh, no, I won't ever do social media, it's too much drama." Or "nobody needs to know what I'm doing." Ok, I get that. My feeling of it? I love it. I don't see any drama because I don't invite those people into my social media outlets. I've gone through and weeded some less than mature people out of my space and I've learned to block those whose posts I'd rather not see but don't want to offend by "unfriending" them. But, I am of the crowd that loves social media. My primary reason for loving it? I get to stay updated with friends and family I would have never otherwise been able to keep up with regularly. I've reconnected old friendships - even with one of my high school teachers! I get to watch the children of my cousins growing up across the country. I love social media for what it's meant to be...a place to connect.
And here's my other thought on social media: if you don't like what you see, then get rid of it.
Today my husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. So, of course I posted about it on two of my social media platforms with this adorable photo:
Awww! We're so cute! And so young!
Along with the photo, I posted a little blurb about us, the difficulties we overcame to get to 14 years and how grateful I am for my husband. Why? Because it's true. Well, wouldn't you know it. There's always a sour grape in the bunch. I received a private message from someone who is less than an acquaintance congratulating me on our anniversary, but with a taste of bitterness as the author of the note wrote, "...it must be nice to have such a perfect life and perfect marriage, but not all of us have that, so your posts can be somewhat offensive." Huh? First of all, in my post, I clearly stated that we had been headed for divorce, but my guy hung in there and didn't give up (maybe the author misunderstood what I meant?). My first reaction was anger, which is my sinful nature. Oh man, the things I wanted to say were ready to pour out of my mouth but would not have been appropriate at all. So I waited, I calmed down, and I simply replied, "my posts are never meant to offend anyone, I'm sorry that you found my post offensive. But, if you knew the entirety of our story, the details of our history, you would understand that I am proud of us as a couple, which is why I post many things about my husband. Much like you do when your child does well athletically or receives an award. You are proud of the accomplishments. I am proud of us. And I will continue to post about it."
Ok, so maybe the last line could've been left off, but I couldn't help it. I felt like I needed to warn the author that my posts would continue. But then I decided that I didn't need to worry about that one person each time I posted something, so I "unfriended" the author so they no longer live in fear of reading my offensive happy wife posts.
Obviously this person was not somebody who reads my blogs, or knows me personally, or heard me speak at a Women's Day event a few years ago. Because if that person had, they would've known that our marriage is and has been far from perfect. Even if you follow my blog and you don't know me personally, you would know by now that my husband and I have come a very, very long way. I am an open book. I openly share about our hardships. I openly share about our difficulties. And the reason I do that is because it gives me the opportunity to share about God's glory in our marriage, because we all know that it was by God's grace and miracles that we made it out alive. It gives me the chance to give hope to women who are hurting in their marriage. It gives me the chance to share what did and what didn't work. My story, my heartbreak, my marriage is my testament to God's incredible victory.
Here is my general rule of thumb when it comes to social media: don't ever post anything negative about your husband. Ever.
You're not pretending your marriage is perfect or that your husband is your knight in shining armor every day. You're not lying about bad days you have together. You're just not exposing your dirty laundry. There are plenty of days my husband and I are at each other's throats! But what would happen if you frequently read something like this on one of my social media platforms: "I am so tired of doing everything. Must be nice to live like someone else in this house..."
*Number one: I would sound like the biggest, um, witch, if those were my frequent posts.
*Number two: you as the reader are left to assume that my husband does nothing.
*Number three: you can't wait to read what complaints are coming tomorrow.
*Number four: you tell your friends ("omg, did you read Jenn's post? She must be miserable.")
And the other reason you don't ever talk badly about your husband:
*Number five: you open yourself up to others....("hey Jenn, I see how much you do and what a good mom you are, I would appreciate you if you were my wife...")
Five reasons right there why you don't ever air your dirty laundry. You know the unspoken rule about not speaking badly about your spouse to your mother (if you don't, now you do)? Why is that a rule? Because your mother will naturally side with you and begin to pass judgement on your husband because of what you tell her about him. My husband and I could be in the biggest argument, but I won't bash my husband to my mother. No way. She's the captain of Team Jenn. Much like my mother-in-law is the captain of Team Ryan. And my brother is Team Jenn. And my sister-in-laws are Team Ryan. You get the point...
The problem is that when one of us is doing the verbal bashing, the listener is only hearing one side of the story. Let's continue with that faux post I mentioned above: "I am so tired of doing everything. Must be nice to live like someone else in this house...." What you didn't get to know is that my husband worked the last 48 hours straight with minimal sleep on an uncomfortable bed at the fire station, so when he's home, he likes to sleep and needs to recover. What you didn't get to know is that it's quite possible my hormones are on high that week. What you didn't get to know is that on other days my husband is busy fixing things I can't repair or planting a garden in the yard for the kids or helping a friend fix their car. All you know is that on that one day, I do everything and my husband does nothing.
And that's where the social media can be a problem. Assumptions are made all over the place. Look at what I experienced today! Someone who doesn't know the entirety of our life assumed I'm painting our lives to be perfect. They probably didn't even read the entire post that accompanied the photo. They took one look at it, saw the first couple sentences, gagged a bit, and sent me that message.
Unfortunately for all the dirt seeking, gossip loving users of social media, I for one will never post negative things about my husband. It doesn't mean I will paint a portrait of perfection, nor will I lie about the status of our week. But when he does something to make me feel special, or when he does something out of the ordinary, you can bet you're going to read about it. Because for the most part, everybody knows our story. Everybody knows that him bringing me flowers on his way home from work is something he would've never done before. Everybody knows that where we are today is because of God. It's not because we're perfect, it's because we surrendered. I want to give that glory to God. I want to tell our story. I want to give hope to those who need it.
God uses our trials for His glory. God will never waste our tears. No matter how frustrated you are, don't blab about it on social media. Respect your husband. Respect your marriage. There are two sides to every story and two sides to every status update.
Glorify your husband. Lift him up! Shout it from the mountain tops when he does something kind for you! And if somebody doesn't like it, well, you can pluck that weed right out of your garden of friends.