social media

How I Made Facebook Lovely Again

Oh Facebook.

You temptress. You instigator. You heartbreaker. You are so freaking addicting and maddening all at the same time. You define paradox for me. 

Here’s what we all know: You either control Facebook or Facebook will control you.

With more than 1600 virtual friends… let me be the first to admit that Facebook was starting to drive me nuts. Literally, I felt as if I teeter tottered on sanity. It was just too much.

But in the past 3-4 months I’ve been able to do a couple simple things that made Facebook much more enjoyable.

Here’s how I made Facebook lovely again

  1. Manage your subscriptions – I accept friend requests from just about anyone. But here’s a little secret. If I don’t actually know you I don’t want to see every one of your status updates. So I mark you as “Only Important” on my subscription settings. So when I see someone pop up on my timeline and I don’t really know them, they get marked as “Only Important.” Over time this makes a massive difference! Conversely, if someone is in my family I mark their updates as “All Updates.” But most of my actual, in-real-life friends are marked as “Most updates” and that works just fine.
  2. Manage requests – Oh baby, event notifications and game requests will drive you batty. So I kill them all. I’ve never played a single game on Facebook and I block ’em all. I also found that all the game requests were coming from a very small minority of my friends. So not only do I block that specific game, but if you request I play a game I also mark you as “block game requests from this person.” Oh, sweet sanity!
  3. Hide updates from Yahoo, USAToday, and any other site that shares my friends browsing activity – This is your next sanity finder. All you have to do is click the little dropdown on that block of links and mark the “hide” button. That makes it all go away and I never see it again. (I couldn’t take a screenshot to show you because it’s all gone!)
  4. Turn off all notifications – If I want Facebook I go to Facebook. Head over to Notification Settings and turn them all off. I never want to get an email from Facebook. No direct message notifications, no friend requests, no tag notifications, nothing. Also, scroll down to Other Applications and turn all of those off.
  5. Close the tab – I know it’s tempting to keep Facebook open all day. That way when a notification pops up you are able to get right there and see who liked your image or who commented on your status update. Close the tab. The coolest thing will happen! You’ll get your life back and enjoy Facebook even more when you want to. In other words, I don’t let other people’s use of Facebook interrupt my life.

Taking these measures of control and getting the settings just right has truly made my use of Facebook lovely again. And that’s a sweet sane victory!

Christian Living illustrations

Hold the reigns tightly

Photo by MyEyeSees via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I’ll never forget the first time I rode a horse. 

Growing up in the city meant that horses just weren’t part of my life. I remember seeing horses as a kid at parades. At the county fair in the horse barns. Or occasionally at big football game when the police brought in horses for crowd control.

And I wasn’t one of those city slickers who dreamed of the open range wrangling up some cows.

I was 19 years old the first time I rode a horse. And I rode a horse because I had to for a college class.

It was an intimidating experience. This animal was 10 times bigger than me. It was taller than me. And it was infinitely stronger than me. Somehow I was supposed to sit on it and “control” it with a tiny piece of leather and some kicks?

Yeah, right.

The horse I rode could have cared less that I existed. It was an old camp trail horse who had seen a million riders over a million years and barely even acknowledged my existence. It was one of those horses that you could tell used to be big, strong, and attractive in its youth but now its best description would be, “tired.

Before I put my foot in the stirrups I tried to get to know him and pat him on the head. He just took a leak and looked away.

I wish I could describe the experience as enjoyable. It wasn’t. It was uncomfortable and bumpy and I felt completely stupid on the horse. It didn’t seem to matter what I “told” the horse to do as it just walked the trail. When it got behind it trotted up ahead to catch up with its friends. Whenever it wanted to– it stopped to eat grass. And when it was done with me it used trees and branches to try to knock me off its back.

To make matter worse everyone else seemed to be having a great time. All I felt like was kicked in the gonads 200 times. I tried to make the best of it but it just wasn’t fun and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

Standing in the barn after the trail ride I asked the person who ran the trail rides why I hated it so much. She just kind of laughed. “Probably because you fought the horse the whole time. And probably because you were scared. It would have been fun if you’d just held on tight and relaxed.

That’s a lot like my relationship with God

When it’s unpleasant, when I’m scared, when I’m intimidated, and when I’m trying to be in control… walking with God is like getting kicked in the gonads 200 times.

Often times God just wants us to hold onto the reigns real tight and relax.

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
   neither are your ways my ways,” 
            declares the LORD. 
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
   so are my ways higher than your ways 
   and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
As the rain and the snow 
   come down from heaven, 
and do not return to it 
   without watering the earth 
and making it bud and flourish, 
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth: 
   It will not return to me empty, 
but will accomplish what I desire 
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. 

Isaiah 55:8-11

Church Leadership

5 things you CAN control

Right before I went into full-time youth ministry one of my mentors shared this truth with me over coffee.

Sometimes people are going to come to you and complain about the stupidest stuff you can imagine. Understand that when that happens, it isn’t you, it’s them. They likely have an area of their life that is completely out of control. And because they have no control over such an important area of their life they are going to try to take complete control of something they think they can control. It’s classic transference. Stop and pray with them. If they stomp off, pray for them.

That advice helped me a ton. (And for you, maybe the light just went off!)

In truth, a life of a leader also often spins out of control. Agendas are in play way above their understanding. Parent demands don’t make any sense. The level of leadership they need in their church is often outside of their experience level.

They are just grasping for anything they CAN control in a life of ministry full of things they can’t control.

As I interact with people sometimes their anger level reveals a great amount of hurt. The more they hurt they more angry they become with me about nothing. Seriously, I’ve had people yell at me because they can’t figure out how to reset a password. Or because their credit card was declined. (Because they put in the wrong address.)

All that to say– a life in ministry is full of things you can’t control.

But here are 5 things you CAN control.

  1. Attitude – You might not be able to chose the agenda, but you can always chose your attitude.
  2. Behavior – Ever heard that actions speak louder than words? It’s true.
  3. Tone – Not just what you say, how you say it.
  4. Mind – What you put into your mind to learn, and what you allow to dwell in your mind, that’s up to you.
  5. Schedule – How you structure your day and how you manage your time, that’s largely up to you.