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27Jan, 2017
(Photo source: Stuart Vivier via Unsplash.com)

(Photo source: Stuart Vivier via Unsplash.com)

I have 987 friends. At least, that’s what my Facebook Page tells me.

I was scrolling through my list of friends the other day, and made some observations:

Some of these “friends”, I’ve met one time in my entire life. At least 5 of those friends, I’ve never actually met face-to-face. Other friends, I haven’t spoken to since high school…which was….a really long time ago. And others still I have to do a double-take to actually figure out how I even know them.

But, according to my Facebook page, these are all my “friends.”

It’s kind of funny, when you think about it, how loosely we use the word friend. Thanks to social media, a friend can be a stranger, a relative, a spouse, a lifelong pal – and everything in between.

But I find it ironic with how saturated we are with “friendships,” living in a technological age where we’re connected with the largest amount friends we’ve ever had  – that so very many people are feeling extremely, and utterly alone.

As a professional counselor, and relationship blogger, I get the privilege and enormous responsibility of hearing from people across the country and world. And through the thousands of emails I receive, it’s impossible to be inattentive to the amount of people reaching out to me with feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Even in a crowd, it’s easy to be lonely, isn’t it? And sometimes, the larger the crowd of “friends” – the lonelier we can feel.

As I’ve been thinking through this dilemma recently, I realized that one of the problems is that we’ve taken the word “friend” out of context. We apply it to too many people, and too many relationships. And at the end of the day, when everyone is our “friend” – we find that we’ve lost something really significant in cultivating meaningful relationships.


At the end of the day, when everyone is our “friend” – we find that we’ve lost something really significant in cultivating meaningful relationships. 


I was chatting with a young man over a Skype Session, and in our session I asked him to draw a social map. A social map is something I learned to do in graduate school, and it’s basically the idea that there are “three rings” of relationships in a person’s life.

The first circle is the “core group”. These are the people who are the closest to your heart. They’re the ones you’ve laughed with, cried with, and walked through the mountains and valleys of life with. They know everything about you, and you can trust them with the deepest and most meaningful parts of your life and heart.

The second circle, are your “level 2 friends”. These are the people who you may see and interact with on a regular basis. Maybe you’ll have coffee, or grab lunch with them. Maybe you’ll sit with them at church, or hang out to watch the game. They’re people who are in your life physically – but maybe not FULLY in your life emotionally, because there are just some things that you don’t quite feel comfortable sharing. But even so, there’s the potential there for a deeper relationship.

The third circle is  what we would call your “acquaintances” or level 3 friends. These are the people who are on the peripheral of your life. You see them in passing, say hello to them at work, and chit chat with them about the weekend. You pass the time with small talk, and polite gestures. You may see them at a gathering or an event, and maybe even get together with them infrequently. But for the most part, they remain on the fringe.

So back to my session with this guy. He shared with me that he was feeling really lonely, but couldn’t understand why that was, because according to him – he was a really well-liked guy with a ton of friends.

But when I asked him to draw his social map, something really interesting came to light.

His life was packed with level 2 and 3 friends, but there was really no one he could think to put in his inner circle.

He had so many people “in his life”, but really no one in his life at all.

That’s when I realized that part of the problem with our social media society is that we have WAY TOO MANY FRIENDS, yet hardly any meaningful relationships.


He had so many people “in his life”, but really no one in his life at all. 


We spend hours of our time commenting on photos, or posting Happy Birthday messages to people we hardly interact with in real life, and often fail to take the time and energy it takes to cultivate real relationships in real life.

Because you know what? Facebook relationships are EASY. They’re easy because in the world of Facebook friendships, you can give at your own time, take at your own time, and interact at your own pace. You can present yourself however you want to. You share your best recipes, your best photos, and your best moments. Not only that, but all from the comfort of your own home (or bathroom- you know you do it)! With a click of a finger, you can give affirmation. With a push of a button, you can “interact”.

And if for some reason along the path of clicking and commenting, you decide you no longer want to interact with someone, or maybe their posts start rubbing you the wrong way, with a click of a button, you can choose to ignore them or even, no longer be friends! It’s that simple.

But real life, real relationships are not so mapped out and cookie cutter. They’re messy. They’re inconvenient. They’re filled with good emotions and bad. They require time. They require energy. And they require an authentic look into the good, the bad, and the ugly of life.

They cause you to step out of your “comfort zone” and be real… be real with your heart, your imperfections, your weaknesses, and your struggles.

But in exchange for that authenticity, you gain true intimacy.  And only where there is true intimacy can loneliness begin to disappear.


What if the only real cure for your loneliness is not having more friends – but having less?


You see, that’s why it’s so much easier to settle for fake relationships. That’s why it’s so much easier to invest in “clicking” rather than truly “connecting”. What if the only real cure for your loneliness is not having more friends – but having less? What if this year, you chose to invest deeply and give deliberately to the people God has placed in your life?

I remember the year I went through this transformation in my own life. The transformation of moving from more friends to less friends. I felt like I was surrounded by acquaintances, but not one friend I could really call “my own”. It’s a strange place to be. I was feeling lonely, even though I was one of the most social people in my circle.

But that was the year God asked me to concentrate and condense. To take the limited time, energy, and resources that I had, and invest myself in a few significant friendships that God had put in my life. It was time to get real. It was time to go deeper. And looking back, I will never regret it. Those friendships are some of the most significant ones I have in my life to this day!

What if this year becomes the year that you chose to commit to less friends, but in a more meaningful way? What if this is the year you decide to be real, authentic, and engaged with a few significant people in your life? What if this year you chose intimacy over convenience?

Imagine how that could impact your life. Imagine how that could deepen your relationships. Whoever you are and wherever you’re from – my prayer for you this year is that this would be the year with less friends, but in turn, far less loneliness.

This post originally appeared on True Love Dates and was republished with permission.

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life. You may also recognize her voice from over 150 articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

(Photo source: Dollar Photo Club)

(Photo source: Dollar Photo Club)

I usually laugh when people leave rude comments on my articles online. Like the man who commented, “man chicks r stupid” on a recent Seventeen magazine piece I published. I laughed because of the irony of his inability to use correct grammar as he was insulting my intelligence, and because I know that he is, in fact wrong: not all “chicks” are stupid.

But instead of laughing at the negative feedback about my latest I Am Second piece, I was slightly — what’s the best word? — offended, horrified, angered…the comments people left made me want to respond.

So that’s what I’m doing.

[Read Karis’ first piece]

I’m trying not to respond in anger or defensiveness, and I’m trying to look at the comments as simple misunderstandings rather than attacks against me, personally. But it’s hard, as some people called my article “unreadable” or said my feelings were “laughable” because of my age.

That’s right. My age. Something I have literally zero control over apparently makes my thoughts irrelevant and my emotions a joke. A few commenters in their 40s said that I had no right to consider myself “painfully” single because I’m only 22.

I don’t know what it was like growing up in the 80s, but I do know what it was like growing up in the ‘00s. I know that every book I picked up, every TV show, and every movie I watched was saturated with romance. Starting as young as middle and high school, every form of entertainment that I consumed told me that the best way to be human is to be in a relationship.


They taught me that being romantically loved by another person is everything.


As I mentioned in the article in question, my bread-and-butter were Christian novels — historical fiction and romance, namely. And those taught me that if a girl is pretty enough, clever enough, smiley enough, she will get a guy. They taught me that reciprocated love is the highest goal to strive for. They taught me that being romantically loved by another person is everything.

Movies and TV are no better. There is romance interwoven throughout every story it seems, even the ones that aren’t about romance. Chick flicks are one thing; but even action shows have romance. “Star Wars,” “Lord of the Rings” — they show people being in relationships.

I know that my childhood was saturated with images of love and romance. I know my friends started dating in elementary school — I’m sure of this because I was the one delegated to pass their “love notes” between them. First kisses and dates were had before adolescence.

Except for me. I was the odd one out who didn’t have boyfriends or kisses or admirers. I had crushes on others, constantly. But nothing ever panned out.

I know that it’s harder to be permanently single at 45 than at 22. But I take issue with the idea that my relationship status can’t be “painful” because I’m “only” 22. Because here’s the thing — 22 might be young, but it’s the oldest I’ve ever been. Your twenties might look like the very beginning of your life when you’re 80, but when you’re 20, they are all you’ve ever known.

I have been alive for 22 years. The entirety of my consciousness has lasted 22 years. But because that’s all I’ve known, that’s an eternity to me.

I understand that older people might look down and see me as a young little bud, barely alive at all, with so much possibility in front of me. (By the way, doesn’t one of the most popular books ever written talk about people looking down on you because you’re young?)


So, no, maybe my singleness isn’t “painful” compared to yourself, but it is painful to me.


But all I know is what I’ve experienced, and that is this: 22 years of being undesirable to men. So, no, maybe my singleness isn’t “painful” compared to yourself, but it is painful to me.

Someone commented that most people in the church aren’t with someone at 22, and in response to that, I laughed. I laughed a lot.

Because that might be true in some places — it is in Italy, where I grew up and where finding fellow Christians is like finding a needle in a haystack. But it’s not true in American church culture.

I went to a Christian undergrad, and a huge, disproportionate chunk of my classmates were either married by the time they graduated or were married within a few months of graduation. If not, they were in relationships. If not, they had been in relationships.

The church is the place in culture where people are “with someone” by age 22, usually.

Our culture is saturated with romance, our Christian culture even more so.

And finally — the point of the article wasn’t that I’m single. It was that God’s love is the greatest romance. I just decided to share that through the lens of my realization that being single is okay.

That was the point. That being single is okay, whether you’re 22 or 47 or 89. It’s not something I’m okay with in every moment of every day, but it’s something I’m becoming aware of. That’s what I wanted to communicate.

I’m sorry if my ruminations on being single got in the way of that.

Karis is a grad student at NYU in New York City. Her writing has appeared online with Seventeen as well as Good Housekeeping. She blogs at karisrogerson.com.

If you’re struggling with thoughts of self-harm, there is hope. You can call 1-800-273-TALK to chat with someone about it. For a list of other resources, visit the website of To Write Love on Her Arms here.

22Oct, 2015

Who are you?

That’s the question we’re trying to figure out. If you’re reading this, you probably either follow us on social media or you like visiting our website. Since that’s the case, we want to get to know you!

We want to learn the kinds of things you like. What you want to see more of. How you grew up. Where you’re at in life. If you prefer Facebook or Instagram. Those kinds of things.

We’re hoping you can take five minutes and answers the questions below. There aren’t many, but it will help us put together the kind of website that you want to visit.

Thank you so much!

Find the survey below if you’re on a desktop, or by clicking here if you’re on mobile.

Create your own user feedback survey

Do Christians need to avoid certain types of music? Should they read lyrics before they start humming a catching tune in the shower? What about Justin Bieber talking about the Christian faith? Is it different for different people?

Those are a few of the questions we tackled in our first-ever I Am Second podcast. Joe Hamm, Lucy Allen, and I sat down to talk it out. Give it a listen, and if you have questions, thoughts, or suggestions for other topics use #secondpodcast on Twitter to reach us.

16Sep, 2015
Source: Dollar Photo Club

Source: Dollar Photo Club

Let’s be real for a second. I think the best way to start is to be blunt: Stop being so freaking offended.

I spend a lot of time reading social media and web comments. I try to keep my pulse on what people are saying, thinking, and wanting. I did it for five years in the news business, and it continues here. Here’s my big takeaway: We are way too focused on being wronged.

I see it so much: One person disagrees with someone or something, and it becomes some knock-out-drag-out literary battle, using words and arguments taken from a fifth-grade playground. Oh, and of course there is some scripture thrown in there.

We live in a culture of offense. In both public and private, people are always on the watch for some statement or group — somewhere — whose ideas might possibly run counter to their own,” writes Lucy Schouten.

Preach it, Lucy.


Christianity is countercultural in its DNA.


I hope I’m not the first one to say this to you, but here it goes: As Christians, we should expect that there are going to be a lot of ideas that run counter to our own. Christianity is countercultural in its DNA. We need to be uncomfortable in a society that tells us comfort is the ultimate goal.

Well, that’s exactly why I need to tell this person that what they’re doing is wrong! Their sin is so offensive to me! I’m showing them I’m different! 

Are you, though? Ask yourself this question, “Have I earned the right to speak into this person’s life?”

Jesus could have been “offended” by a cheating woman’s actions, taken up a stone, and joined the mob who just couldn’t stand what she did. But he didn’t. He bent down, wrote in the sand, and told her to be on her way — and by the way, stop doing what you’re doing. Obviously his approach took care of what the mob’s didn’t.

Talk about countercultural.

But even Jesus overturned the tables in the temple! He got angry at sin!

Yeah, you’re right, he did. But take a look at that story. Who was Jesus angry at? It was those who were using faith to benefit themselves. Those who were taking advantage of the temple instead of using it for its true purpose.

Survey those to whom Jesus directed His strongest, most severe words,” write Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. “It was the self-righteous, judgmental Pharisees and Sadducees—those who didn’t see themselves as sinners but who leveled that charge against everyone else.”

Allow me to contextualize that: Those who see themselves as the Christianity police, always on the prowl to point out how everyone else isn’t living up to their standards. And technology makes that so easy and accessible. Think about it, 20 years ago you never would have known what Jason S. was thinking or doing 2,000 miles away. Now you see it the moment he hits enter on his keyboard.


You may not be able to convince someone Christ is the answer right away, but your words and actions can quickly and easily convince them that he’s not.


In our lives, our attitude shouldn’t be looking for wrongs, it should be looking for ways we can make things right in the world. How can we restore brokenness? How can I be different in this situation? We need to stop focusing on being right and start thinking about how to make things right. We need to stop focusing on how to win arguments, and start focusing on how to win people.

So ask yourself this, “Is writing this snarky comment really going to be the one thing that changes this person’s mind? Is sending this Tweet and attaching #truth really the best representation of it?”

The early church was focused on relationships, on “how to stir up one another to love and good works.” People were selling their possessions and giving the money away. Can you really convey that Christianity in 140 angry characters?

Think about it this way: You may not be able to convince someone Christ is the answer right away, but your words and actions can quickly and easily convince them that he’s not.

And you know what? I don’t care if that offends you.

15Jul, 2015

Love Thy Homies Tee

  • Jennifer Fleming

LoveThyHomies

Recientemente, me senté en un confortable sillón con mi café favorito en la mano y con un equipo de trabajo. Trabajamos en un ejercicio que trata de sugerir adjetivos que mejor describan a los adolescentes en el 2015. Como grupo, surgieron palabras como “superficial”, “piensan en sí mismos”, “desentendido”.

Lo entendí, muchos dijeron lo mismo de mi generación y de mí. Seamos honestos. Todo lo que se tiene que hacer es navegar a través de Instagram y darse cuenta que esta generación no solamente ha inventado el “Selfie”, también ha perfeccionado el arte de eso. El término “Selfie” puede apoyar las percepciones generales y dirigirnos a la suposición de lo que trata esa generación.

Eschenbach dijo, “En la juventud aprendemos, en la adultez entendemos”. He trabajado con adolescentes desde hace más de una década. La sociedad muchas veces marca a esa generación como la del “Selfie”. Sin embargo, he aprendido que hay mucho más debajo de la superficie que miran nuestros ojos. Hay ciertas cosas clave que podemos aprender de los adolescentes que podrían inspirar al mundo a #Vivir Segundo.

5 Cosas por aprender de los adolescentes

1. Está bien no estar bien.

Esta generación, más que otras anteriores, celebra y  motiva a admitir el “no estoy bien”. Muchas personas sienten esta presión para presentarnos en una manera que dice “yo estoy bien”. La verdad es que todos tenemos “asuntos”. Los adolescentes aceptan esta realidad.

2. La justicia importa.

Una vez Kurt Cobain dijo, “el deber de la juventud es desafiar la corrupción”. Los adolescentes tienen una gran sensibilidad por la injusticia. Ya sea por el bullying, racismo, sexismo, pobreza o por tráfico de sexo,  esta generación no se sacude la cabeza con estos retos. Al contrario, ellos alzan su voz, creatividad y esfuerzo para hacerle frente a las injusticias en su mundo.

3. El valor de la comunidad

Los adolescentes valoran conocer a otros y ser conocidos. Las relaciones importan. Los adolescentes ven la comunión como algo necesario y lo cultivan intencionalmente, tanto en persona como por internet.

4. Celebra la singularidad

Nuestra sociedad crea etiquetas y categorías a prácticamente todo. Esta generación tiene cierto disgusto por las etiquetas y celebra la singularidad de cada uno. Su manera de ser enseña a otros que nuestro trabajo no es rechazar o juzgar a quienes están en nuestro alrededor, sino amar a los demás por cómo son.

5. Pensamiento global

La definición de un movimiento es “un grupo de personas trabajando juntas para promover su ideal político, social o ideas artísticas”. Los movimientos están catalizados para cambiar. Mientras los adolescentes celebran la individualidad, tienen un deseo para ser parte de algo más grande.

Una mirada más allá de los “selfies”, revela características y valores en los adolescentes que pueden inspirar a otros a #VivirSegundo

Por David Martin

David Martin es el Director de Estudiantes de I Am Second (Yo Soy Segundo). Para aprender más de este movimiento nacional de estudiantes, dale click aquí.

 

11IA2 LIVE_Evansville_2015_1234_17Evansville, IN fue una vez calificada de  #8 como la ciudad más miserable en América. Sin embargo, a través del movimiento de Yo Soy Segundo, los ciudadanos ahora brillan con esperanza. Aproximadamente más de 600 individuos del triestatal asistieron a Yo Soy Segundo Live en Evansville el 26 de Febrero.

Presentado por el autor bestseller del New York Times Eric Metaxas, Yo Soy Segundo Live también con la participación de concursante de American Idol Danny Gokey presentándose y hablando acerca de su experiencia personal con la transformación de la ciudad de Nashville a través de su fundación sin ánimo de lucro, Sophia’s Heart. Los músicos locales, Gina Moore y After Hours llevaron sus talentos a la velada junto con la personalidad de televisión Randy Moore y el artista de hip hop, Sean Little.

Un panel de discusión de cuatro líderes locales de Evansville moderado por Metaxas mostró el deseo de los ciudadanos de Evansville para unirse y transformar la ciudad. El panel protagonizado por el Director de Community One (Comunidad Uno) Eric Cummings, el Pastor Líder de la Iglesia de la ciudad Jeff Kinkade, el Pastor de la red One Life (Una Vida) Bret Nicholson y el gerente de la YMCA del Sureste de Indiana Derrick Stewart y resultó siendo un llamado para una gran unidad para servir a la ciudad.

El gran punto culminante de la noche fue el nuevo video de Yo Soy Segundo inspirado en Lindsay Schroer, la esposa del Detective de la Policía de Evansville, Nathan Schroer cuyo video fue estrenado por Yo Soy Segundo el año pasado después de su muerte. En su video, Lindsay habla acerca de cómo la comunidad la ha apoyado desde la muerte de su esposo.

La comunidad de Evansville dejó el evento alentando que la ciudad #8 más miserable de la nación ya no lo era más. Unos pocos comentarios de los invitados coronando la noche:

“¡Magnífico trabajo ésta noche! ¡Que noche tan fabulosa para la unión de la ciudad!”

“… realmente fue un regalo estar ahí. ¡Fue una velada tan profesional y divertida!”

“Fue mi primer vistazo a lo que es Yo Soy Segundo y realmente tiene un mensaje poderoso que merece apoyo”

“El evento de Yo Soy Segundo Live me inspira de maneras que no puedo describir adecuadamente”

11IA2 LIVE_Evansville_2015_1234_17Evansville, IN was once noted as #8 most miserable city in America. But through the I am Second movement, the citizens now gleen with hope. Underscoring more than 600 individuals from the Tri-State attended I am Second Live in Evansville on February 26.

Hosted by New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas, I am Second Live  also featured American Idol alum Danny Gokey performing and speaking about his personal experience with city transformation in Nashville through his non-profit, Sophia’s Heart. Local musicians Gina Moore and After Hours lent their talents to the evening along with television personality Randy Moore and hip-hop artist, Sean Little.

A panel discussion of four local leaders from Evansville moderated by Metaxas showcased a desire for citizens of Evansville to come together and transform the city. The panel featured Community One Executive Director Eric Cummings, City Church Lead Pastor Jeff Kinkade, One Life Network Lead Pastor Bret Nicholson and YMCA of Southwestern Indiana CEO Derrick Stewart and resulted in a call for greater unity in serving the city.

A big highlight of the night was a new I am Second-inspired film featuring Lindsay Schroer, the wife of the late Evansville Police Detective Nathan Schroer whose film was released by I am Second last year after his death.  In her film Lindsay talked about how the community has embraced her since her husband’s death.

The community of Evansville left the event encouraged that America’s #8 most miserable city in the nation was no more. A few comments from the guests topped off the night:

“Great job tonight! What a great night for  unity in the city!”

“… it was really a treat to be there.  It was such a professional and fun evening!”

“It was my first real exposure to what I am Second is about and it certainly has a powerful message that deserves support.”

“The I am Second Live event inspired me in ways I cannot adequately describe.”

 

09Oct, 2014

Peter was just “another kid” in the middle school where Ms. Penny-Lowe taught. One day he came to ask to use her theater arts room, one of the biggest in the school, for a meeting before classes began on Fridays.

He and some friends had met a couple times to watch and discuss I am Second films using our film discussion guides. Other students asked if they could join, too, so they needed a bigger place to meet.

Check out this short film about how that group grew into 140+ students meeting every Friday morning before school. Now starting their third year! With the leadership baton being handed off to different student leaders each year. Who are seeing their friends trust Christ. It’s crazy what God is doing at that public school.

Thanks for your partnership in the gospel. Your investment in I am Second makes it possible to provide resources to student leaders like Peter who want to help people encounter Jesus in unexpected places.

Blessings.

Mike Jorgensen
Executive Director / I am Second

P.S. Please forward this to a student leader, youth pastor or adult youth worker you know who might be interested in learning more about I am Second resources for students available at iamsecond.com/students.