For many years I wrote a monthly letter to the donors of the child welfare agency where I worked, thanking them for their generous gifts to the agency. The policy was to have such letters approved by the Creative Arts Editor, who happened to be my husband.
I learned a very important principle from his red marks on my first letter:
“Always consider the audience,” was written at the top of my letter. “People don’t give to an agency. They give to the children. Show them how their gift makes a difference in the life of a child.” That’s the explanation he gave as he directed me to the right audience.
Always consider the audience.
I’ve been thinking about this as I‘ve read social media posts recently. Words of anger and angst over the important issues that are dividing America today make me wonder who their audience is.
Do they want affirmation from those who agree? Or are they trying to convince those on the opposite side of their viewpoint?
I understand the strong feelings. I experience some myself. To vent feels good. It can be a refreshing release in our minds and hearts when the world doesn’t seem to be going in the right direction. And it sure beats stress headaches.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t last.
When the present and the imagined future bring us sadness or fear or anger, where can we turn for relief?
I’m wondering if there might be a better audience than the unknown readers who are receiving the infuriated thoughts.
A few years ago I was having tea with a new friend at Starbucks. She’d held tightly to a heartbreaking pain for years, a couple decades actually. For some reason she felt the grace and strength to share her pain with me. Her courage to unload her secret led to the beginning of healing.
Among other resources, God used Esther Fleece, the author of No More Faking Fine, to provide the peace that had escaped my friend for so long.
As an abused child, Esther knew great pain, and she chose the pathway of faking that she was fine to deal with her past. Until… one day she could no longer hide.
“Somewhere along the way, I missed out on learning a theology of suffering. Prayer was a significant part of my life, yet I had never been taught about the prayer called lament,” Esther wrote.
Her counselor explained:
“Lament, he said, is simply expressing honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned.
Whether we’re hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed, overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, lament is the language God has given us to talk to Him right in the middle of life’s messes…
It’s a prayer that says, ‘God I’m hurting – will You meet me here?’ And, as such, it is a prayer to which God always responds.”
I feel badly for those whose anxiety leads them to turn to social media for their release. Such frustration. I pray their audience will change to the One who can bring peace.
“God wants all pain to be surrendered to Him, and He has the capacity to respond to it all with infinite compassion. What’s more, lament is a pathway.
Honest expression to God makes way for God to come and work His real healing. Lament is a channel for powerful transformation.
It is exactly the kind of song we need for hope and healing.”
Do you have anxiety that has relentlessly gripped your thoughts? What if you opened your computer, or your journal and poured it all out to God who listens, understands, loves you, and replaces your anxiety with peace?
If you are one who is troubled by the state of our nation today, I can relate. Though I haven’t used social media as a means to unburden myself, I have used friends, sadly pulling them into my moments of frustration. I’ve discovered the Lord to be a much better audience.
“Real strength is identifying a wound and asking God to enter it. We are robbing ourselves of a divine intimacy when we pretend to have it all together.”
- Esther Fleece
Thank you for journeying with me as we search for wisdom and peace during this troubling time in our country.