I love the internet. I love social media, news, the wild opinions, and even the endless debate. Except when I don’t. When I get sick of listening to the same people say the same thing over and over again. When everything that could possibly be said has been said, many, many times, but people are still going. Sometimes I just have to walk away. I have to get some perspective.
I remember when my first really huge post was getting me absolutely roasted in what seemed like every corner of the internet. My stomach was twisted into knots as I read comment after comment, discovered yet another place where people were discussing me on some board somewhere, and I felt like I was embroiled in a huge scandal. My life seemed filled with conflict and angst and upset. And then I realized something.
I realized that I could get up, close my laptop, and look at the world around me. I was sitting in the cozy living room of our sweet parsonage, and only steps away my children (who love me) were playing happily. My devoted husband would soon be home from working at the best church in Texas. I had a light bulb moment: I had let what I had read on the internet that day overshadow the reality of my actual life. My real life was not rife with conflict and strife. It wasn’t a battleground. My real life was actually a pleasant, low-stress existence. But, I had let myself get sucked into the world of every opinion, and once I got lost in that jungle of harsh debate and little civility, I had a hard time finding my way out again.
I think many of us are there right now. Within Christian circles, debates are raging. Opinions are pouring in. Passionate pleas and rude attacks and the-sky-is-falling attitudes are everywhere. Debate can be a good thing. We should talk about things, hold each other accountable, call out what needs to be called out. Go for it. But, when stress begins to fill your heart and mind, when your blood pressure begins to pulse wildly, when you can think of little else but what a stranger said in a comment box someplace, then maybe it’s time to take a step back. Maybe it’s time to close that laptop and look at the life around you and recognize that you don’t have to solve every problem the internet dreams up. Walk away for awhile. Sit on the porch with your wife. Play a board game with your kids. Call up an old friend. Realize how great your life is, and how little real life conflict you are probably actually having to deal with.
The internet won’t fall apart if you don’t read every article and comment. Jesus came to give abundant life. Maybe that abundance is right in front of you, but you can’t see it for your computer screen. Don’t confuse internet bickering with your real life. Get up. Walk away. And see how God is working and blessing right in your own house, your own church, your own town, where most of the people you encounter have no idea what the latest Christian controversy is.
I’m not saying stay out of the discussions. But, find a balance that keeps you from feeling like your life is just one big drama scene when it clearly is not. Look up. Take heart. And see what God is doing right where you are.