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Would Jesus Like Your Post On Social Media?

Written By Michelle Lai, Singapore

If God were on social media, would He like your post?

I used to take to Instagram daily. I would post a picture with a caption telling my followers what I felt at the moment. I would post sad reflections, happy anecdotes, and even angry rants. It was my way of expressing myself and dealing with boredom and loneliness. I could “talk” to my followers without actually engaging in a conversation or meeting up with anyone.

However, I learned the hard way that even though we have the right to express ourselves freely, we should also be responsible for the thoughts that we express and upload on a public platform.

I’ve since learned how to navigate social media in a healthy way, and here are three questions I often ask myself:

 

1. Will my post benefit my friends?

I like to listen to sad ballads, and would often post sad lyrics that may or may not mean anything personal. Because of the emotional nature of my posts, my friends often asked me if I was okay. But I didn’t want to explain things; I just wanted the responses. Ideally, friends asked if I was okay, but often I received uninvited comments on my life and activities instead. Also, close friends were sometimes the last to find out when something happened in my life, since distant acquaintances saw it first on Instagram.

All this led to me feeling very vulnerable and exposed to the world. It is a funny dilemma, feeling relieved yet empty if people do not respond to my posts, but feeling overwhelmed if they do.

I was not glorifying God with the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart (Psalm 19:14). Not only did my social media habits cause problems between me and my friends, they also caused me to become consumed by things such as seeking approval, explaining myself, and chasing after the instant gratification of expressing my highs and lows without much thought.

Whereas I once treated social media like a scrapbook or diary, I now treat it as a tool to connect with my closest friends. For example, I would post Christian poems to encourage my friends, or share recent milestones to celebrate with friends and offer encouragement. I also try to minimize posting about my daily life, and only post pictures with my loved ones. I remind myself not to linger on social media after I post, so that I would not feed on “likes” by my friends. When I see something interesting my friends shared on social media, such as photos from their recent travels, I try to meet up with them in person and ask them more about what they posted.

 

2. Have I taken time to process what I want to post?

Nowadays, I do not write a post whenever I feel like it. Instead, I give myself some time to think over whether the post is necessary, whether it is kind, and whether it draws attention to myself in a self-indulgent way.

I am learning that talking to someone about my feelings—instead of ranting on social media—gives me the privacy to keep the issue personal and professional in certain situations. When I share my struggles with friends or mentors, I can often gain other perspectives. This allows me time to process my thoughts. I realize that, often, when I give myself time to sit on a feeling or nagging thought, it passes and no longer becomes a nagging issue. Like “emotional eating,” many times I need to be careful of “emotional posting.”

 

3. Am I glorifying God or causing others to stumble?

I once worked with a group of classmates on a school project together. When I had a disagreement with one of them, I posted a picture of a steam engine with an angry caption in our group chat. It affected the morale of the entire group.

While social media is for sharing more than just happy things, as a follower of Christ I should not post anything that might cause others to stumble. I should definitely not take to social media and rant without considering how my words will affect others.

The psalmists in the Bible were not afraid to write sad and angry psalms, but ultimately, they always brought the focus back to God. While I do not think we should refrain from posting about issues like depression, or even sharing that we are tired or sad on a particular day, I am learning from the psalmists that my posts should always point others back to God. For example, when I write poems about depression, I bring God into the picture. I also include a link to an emotional support hotline for anyone who might want to seek professional help. I make sure I end my poems in hope.

 

While it hasn’t been easy to readjust my social media habits, I’m learning that we are called to love people around us, and guarding what comes out of our mouths (or fingers) is a good place to start.

My Fight Against FOMO

Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore

Do you have FOMO?

I first heard this acronym in my church last October, when a university student shared about her struggle to manage her time after entering university; she had to balance her studies, church activities, social activities, and quiet time with God.

FOMO stands for “fear of missing out”—in other words, it’s the fear of not being in the know of what is happening, or missing out on experiences which others seem to enjoy. You may experience FOMO in its various forms. For example, you may feel envious of what others have, so you say yes to every activity without much consideration.

When I heard the student’s sharing, I immediately recognized that I was struggling with the same thing. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to take two semesters off university, which meant missing out on classes, Christian Fellowship (CF), social gatherings, and other important events.

I remember feeling a wave of sadness when I realized that I was physically and mentally unable to take part in CF. As part of the executive community, I was supposed to be in charge of the Bible study curriculum. Knowing that I would not be able to implement the ideas I had for the curriculum disappointed me.

Sometimes, I felt so tired that I could not even meet my friends for a meal. Missing out on a year of school also meant that I would not be able to celebrate milestones together with them. When they graduated and started work, I would still be in university. When I saw my peers moving ahead with their lives, I couldn’t help but feel left behind.

I thought about all the “what ifs” and “what-could-have-beens”. If I did not have to take this break, I would have been able to complete my final year in school; I would have been able to contribute to CF; and most importantly, I would have been able to experience life with my friends.

As I grappled with these thoughts, I realized that the main reason why I was sad was that I was not going to graduate together with my peers. Though my friends tried to encourage me by saying that the extra time would pass very quickly, my heart was still unhappy and bitter because I knew that I would not be able to catch up with them.

But by focusing on not being left out, I lost sight of God. I forgot that serving God and being part of a Christian community was never about me to begin with. Though I had started out wanting to serve God, along the way I had become preoccupied about being indispensable to those around me. I forgot that God does not need anybody to do anything for Him. However, He delights in us and chooses to partner us in His work.

Right after that service, I prayed that God would remove FOMO from me and that I would recognize my feelings of sadness for what they were and deal with them. I prayed that I would get my priorities right. And I prayed for my friends and also for the CF even though I could not participate.

For a few months, I kept praying to God about the sadness I was feeling. He then opened my eyes to see the situation from another perspective—that this was my season of rest. He showed me that honoring Him didn’t just mean serving those around me, but it also meant resting, slowing down, and taking care of my health so that He could continue to use me for His glory.

By God’s grace, my condition has improved, and I returned to school a few weeks ago.

For everyone who fears being left behind, I would like to encourage you that although you may not always be “relevant” to the people or activities around you, you will always be relevant to God no matter what season of life you are in. God will not miss any of us out.

Each of us has our own path to walk on earth. Let’s worry about whether we’re seeking God at every moment instead of worrying about whether we’re part of the “in” crowd or the latest happening.

 

 

I Wanted to Sing, But God’s Track was Different

Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore

I had always loved singing and wanted to join the singing club in school. However, God had a different track in mind for me.

When I entered university in 2013, my Christian friends encouraged me to join the Christian Fellowship (CF). They even linked me up with a cell group leader whom I knew. But there was a problem—I had no intention of joining CF. I secretly thought that joining a Christian community in university was uncool.  In my mind, I imagined a group of people reading the Bible together every week. As someone who wanted to be seen as cool and trendy, I definitely did not want to be part of that.

Instead, I wanted to join the school’s singing club. I envisioned myself on stage singing one day. You see, I have always loved the “emotional” experience that singing brings whenever I sing with friends and allow the music and lyrics to “speak” to me. I wanted to spread that infectious feeling on stage. I was so convinced that I wanted to join the singing club and not CF that I decided to message the cell group leader to inform her of my decision.

I might have forgotten to mention one thing, though: I could not sing to save my life. I had no background in music. My singing voice was of a higher register, while most songs suited those who had a lower register.

I remember feeling very disappointed when I did not pass the audition for the singing club. The senior, who was conducting the audition, had asked me if I could play a musical instrument. I felt useless because I couldn’t—plus the fact I did not understand the musical terms used.

Still, I wanted to experience what it was like to be “cool” in university, so I decided to join my friends to drink and party. But one night was all it took to change my mind.  As I watched my friends lose control of themselves after drinking, I decided that was not how I wanted to live. Besides, those were expensive and unhealthy habits.

While I remained friends with those who had hobbies vastly different from mine, I wondered what else there was to life aside from just partying and studying. I began to question my identity and took a hard look at what I was doing in my life at the time. That was when I realized my need for a community with similar values to anchor me and help me navigate the confusing path of adulthood. It was then that I decided to join CF.

Once again, I wanted sing in the worship team. In fact, I was given the opportunity, but that didn’t last either. A couple of my seniors gave me feedback that I had failed to help people to worship God because I kept singing out of tune. After that session, I knew that God had not called me to lead worship.

After that, I was given many opportunities by my seniors to serve in different areas. I was determined to heed the advice of the words I had seen on an Instagram post: “Bloom where you are planted.”

As I started to examine my strengths and weaknesses objectively, I became an active CF member and eventually stepped up to be a cell group leader. I also became a part of the encouragement ministry in CF where we pray for the group, write notes of encouragement, pack welfare packs, and organize bonding activities.

Studying the Bible—which I initially thought was uncool—helped me develop my love for God’s Word. Over time, God showed me that I did not have to be fixated on the one talent that I did not have (singing). If we respond in faithful obedience, He will show us our gifts that can be used to honor Him.

Slowly, it dawned on me that writing poems was a way to express myself and offer praise and honor to Him. As I posted my poems on social media, I received some positive feedback from my friends. My best friend—a non-believer—told that it was encouraging for her to read about my faith and my God, and how my belief helped me in times of struggles. It amazed me that God could use my poems to reach my non-believing friends!

I started my university life wanting it to be the most thrilling and cool years of my life, and in the end, God fulfilled it—but not in the way I had envisioned. By His grace, I had numerous opportunities to identify my weaknesses and develop my strengths. These experiences shaped me and I hope they will continue to guide me in the future, especially for my future job. That said, I know that I do not have to worry, because God can use anybody who is willing to be molded by Him.

Here’s a poem God convicted me to write that describes this journey I went through.

Shape of Me

The Potter molded me
What is my destiny
I was formed from dust
Tell me
Would I last
I wanted to be a vase
To keep flowers in place
But the Potter had other plans
He told me to trust in His hands
He molded me into a jug
To be honest
I was not smug
I questioned the Potter’s hands
I wondered what were His plans
What else is He molding
Other than my shape
Something deep within me
He is changing me instead
He said the purpose of all these
Is to draw me to Himself
He delights in me
And now I accept myself

Poem: Salvation

Salvation-Poem

Written By Michelle Lai

Close your eyes and see
The hour you first believed
Jesus knocked on your heart
You answered and that’s a start
Salvation is a free gift for all
If only you answer His call
It is a precious gift
So don’t give it a miss
The moment might be now
You were lost but now found
Wherever you might be
Jesus has set you free
I want to worship now

There is nothing sweeter than this

Click on the image or click here to download.

Salvation(1)