networking: virtual vs. actual (part three)

the wave in social networking and the popularity of twitter is moving personal communication toward sound-bites.  to conform, messages must becoming smaller, more frequent, and more public.  that trend is alarming to me, as it hampers our ability to connect on anything more than a superficial level.

allow me to elaborate (and you knew i was going to).

the long-term relationships i enjoy with my accountability partners are among the most meaningful in my life.  and even though i’ve been meeting with them on a regular basis for many years, and even though i know i can share my deepest issues with them without fear of judgment, and even though i am extremely comfortable in their presence, the conversation has to “warm up” for a while before i am ready to share. i’m sorry, i can’t just sit down and instantly confess my deepest, darkest sins.  what if our dialogue was limited to 140 characters?  and what if it wasn’t face-to-face?  and what if anyone could access it?

i think we severely underestimate and underutilize the power of personal accountability.  and i strongly believe that every christian minister should meeting regularly with a spiritual support group–or, at least, pursuing those types of relationships.

ed bacon is the rector at all saints church in pasadena, california, a “large, inclusive, urban, liberal-spirited church deeply committed to issues of social peace and justice and to the spirit of creativity in all aspects of life” (from their website).  while i confess i don’t place a lot of confidence in the opinions of  a theologian who appears (amid great controversy, by the way) on “oprah,” he recently wrote an article that amplifies my point…

From time to time, we speak about what an exasperation-free oasis our friendship is. Each of us has had some important relationships that soured because someone got exasperated with us. Not that we didn’t deserve it. But there is something about my best friends, who just don’t get exasperated with me, no matter how much I deserve it. As a result, I am not guarded with them, and when we fall back into old patterns of thinking, “If I tell him this, the friendship is over,” that’s where we have over the years taken the risk to tell it all. That’s where the friendship is made even stronger.

My best friends are the people with whom I feel safe to talk about mad, sad and hurt feelings. Most other relationships stay at the feeling levels where everything is “fine,” although we all know that’s not true. But my best friends never shy away from those times when we feel the neediest—when our feelings have been hurt, when we are so angry we could spit fire, when we are grieving and depressed, when we feel unacceptable. Over and over, those are the times that have made us feel more bonded.

The secret to all of this is that best friends are invested in being their true selves. Sure, they tolerate any posturing that comes from the false self. But the safety of the friendship is such that in their presence I can feel the superficiality of any of my ego-based claims or judgments. With that realization, I remember that I don’t want to live on the surface of life, and then I simply move into the deeper waters where my true self waits to cool, refresh and renew.

For me, investing in time with my best friends is profoundly spiritual. Standing naked before another, knowing that acceptance will trump exasperation and working through tough feelings as well as surface living to move to the true self is the essence of life with God. We can’t be fully alive without it.

do you have friends with whom you can “stand naked before another, knowing that acceptance will trump exasperation”?  if not you need to get some.  or one.

and then have conversations that contain more than 140 characters.


One thought on “networking: virtual vs. actual (part three)

  1. Great posts on networking. I understand where you are coming from and I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve had friends that I thought were trustworthy but confidences were broken. A pastor broke confidence once and, after that happens, it gets more difficult to share anything too deep with anyone. Sure wish I could say I have someone like that to share my heart with.

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