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Friday, September 9

Where Do I Go From Here?

I never realized the amount of introspection and reflection that would absorb my time in the weeks and months leading to my big 3-0.  It is as if a complete inventory of my life was somehow mandated.

I struggled through a lot of inner turmoil and as a result struggled outwardly as well.  I wrestled with questions, so many questions, about my life and the current direction set before me.

Who are my friends?  Who am I?  Am I happy?  Is this where I want to be?  Am I doing my best?  What is God's plan for my life?  Am I living according to His will or mine?  Do I have joy?  What example am I setting for my daughter?  Does my husband still love me?  Am I failing?

I'm not going to lie, I uncovered a lot of hard truths in the process.  Truths that I didn't want to face.  But I also discovered that I have choices to make.  If I am to live the life I long to have, I have to be the woman I am called to be.  I need to rise to a new level of understanding, of appreciation, of devotion to my Lord and His purpose for my life.

One of the greatest revelations I have had is that I am truly lonely.  When people tell you that having kids changes everything in your life, they are right.  One of the biggest changes is a feeling of loss when it comes to meaningful adult relationships.  I would guess that it is even harder for those of us who leave the ranks of the working to become full time homemakers or even self-employed.  Isolation easily creeps in making you feel very alone in a time of great transition, a time of great need.

It has been easy to become depressed over the changes, and harder to find words to explain the ache in my heart for friends who seem to have become distant.  I harbor no hard or hurt feelings toward any one; different seasons in life can easily draw people away and others draw people closer.  I guess this is one of the hard truths about starting a family (and being one of the first amongst friends) in a place far away from extended family.

I needed to really search within myself to seek a new way of relating, a new way of reaching out, a more meaningful way of building connections and friendships.  I realized I may have to start over completely.  This is an extremely difficult thing to do in New York City.  Turnover is frequent in the city, and often having kids can push a family to leave without much regret.  Often I find people lack the energy to invest in building new friendships.  This is a hard pill to swallow.

When trying to figure out what is and what isn't working in terms of my relationships I realized that I spend an awful lot of time on social media.  Facebooking people or even texting had become 99% of my method of communicating.  The paradox of Facebook is that it is fast, easy and convenient, when in reality it is one of the biggest time drains I can identify in my life.  I can't tell you how many times I've gone on Facebook to check the feed and an hour has passed in what felt like a blink of an eye.

I miss talking to people both in real life and on the phone.  Even email seems to have become too much of a time investment.  I think society doesn't realize as a whole what they are giving up in the name of being modern, and easy.  I have also noticed the decline in colorful, descriptive vocabulary, not just in others, but in myself.  As a writer, it is almost like a disease of abbreviations, short words and effortless phrases are polluting all forms of conversation.

I needed to do something radical to break myself free from this "follow the masses" mentality, and the best solution I could come up with was banishing most of the social media from my life.  Preparing to delete Facebook has been a comical task at times.  It is easy to become connected online, much harder to disconnect.  I can't believe all the steps involved in backing up data, deleting data, unlinking and un-attaching from the web.

I am not really a hater of social media at all, but for me I can see how it has allowed for me to become more lazy and more "fast food" in my friendships.  I think that most people have at least had an occasional intrusive thought about so called "friends" on Facebook...and the validity of these relationships.  Maybe there is an uneasy feeling deep down of the very real loss of privacy we so easily accept in return for people to "care" about what is going on in our lives.  Whatever it is, I've stopped ignoring the little voice inside that tells me I'm missing out on something greater.

People have asked me what my reasons for leaving Facebook are, some have even tried to stop me in protest, it really comes down to a personal challenge.

My friends, I care enough about you to not just be a voyeur from the sidelines of your life.  I want to be  a part of your lives, to know you, to go through life's up and downs with you.  To be there for you when you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to make you laugh or to offer you a thoughtful word of encouragement.  I want to know what you are going through so that I can stand with you in prayer, so that I can offer any assistance I can, or so that I can celebrate and cherish your victories with you.  Most of all, I never want you to question whether or not I am a genuine friend or label me as just a "Facebook" friend.

This is my challenge to myself.  And just one answer to the questions I have been pondering.

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