With the rise of all sorts of social media, a lot of us have gradually turned into sharing machines.
We seek to share our enjoyment with others, a natural pull that stems from our innate design to live in community with one another. We see it, snap it and almost simultaneously share it. Before the moment has even passed, we’ve invited hundreds of people in to experience everything from our daily latte, to our 30th birthday party, to a getaway in the mountains, to the birth of our third child.
My motto for online engagement has always been “to each his own.” Some share lots, some share never. I’m in no position to run around judging. I share a lot. For me, it’s a creative outlet. It’s a way to engage, share important moments with friends and family, talk about the good happening in the world and hopefully somewhat inspire others.
I even use social media for my job, and I have seen posts encourage, inspire and even bring people together.
But we all know the potential downsides of social media sharing: oversharing with Facebook “friends” who don’t really know us, obsessively curating our Instagram posts to make our life look ideal, not enjoying the moment because we’re too busy sharing it with those who aren’t there.
Some of the most beautifully publicized moments are not as “authentic” as we try to make them seem. Why? Not because these perfectly posed snapshots are inherently evil, but because these moments we share are transient, and some of them, no matter how well ‘liked’ they may be, they have no eternal value. We’ve traded authenticity for approval, and these moments are quickly being glanced at, scrolled through and left to fade away into the abyss of Internet no man’s land.
Where is the balance in what and how we share online? While sharing good with the world can be a wonderful thing, I find that designating some moments to remain secret and sacred just for those who were there adds a greater luster to my life than sharing them ever could.
You know, those quiet, unseen moments where it’s just you and another person? The moments where you hear a still, small voice whisper “This experience is meant for you to be fully present. Put your phone down, treasure this time and give all the love you have.” When we experience these moments where we feel the pull of the Holy Spirit speaking through us, or vise versa, we are left with an awe inspired humility, which no photo could ever come close to depicting. These secret moments are a gift to be experienced fully, treasured and carried inside of our hearts.
We must be intentional about finding these moments and keeping them close, or we might eventually cease to recognize them. It could be an act of kindness—given or received, or a time in which someone unexpected is used to breathe life in to your soul. Maybe it’s a 3 a.m. feeding with your newborn, or time spent alone with the love of your life, maybe it’s a moment spent in the splendor of creation, time given to the poor and needy. These are the moments in which we are eternally transformed. It’s why the Bible tells us to do really beautiful things like fast and pray and give in secret.
“So that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4).
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:6).
“But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:17-18).
In his book Love Does, Bob Goff writes: “Maybe Jesus wants us to be secretly incredible instead. That was His plan for self-promotion. Secretly incredible people keep what they do as one of God’s best-kept secrets because the only one who needs to know, the God of the universe, already knows.”
The God of the universe sees every single good thing we do, and these things honor Him because he gives them! We must believe in the power of becoming secretly incredible. We must begin to savor these secret moments, because the unseen is eternal. To enter in, to love, to give to the world, without feeling the need to tell everyone about it, this is sacred secrecy.
Sharing is wonderful, and I will continue to do it, but what if we put as much emphasis on the secret things as we did the shared? What if we lived for the unseen and let the quiet moments dictate our days? When we’re pushed to be fully present, when God speaks through the unlikely, when He pulls us to connect personally with another human, let’s pull up a chair, listen and engage. The gift of presence is what the world needs, now more than ever.
We are constantly facing opportunities to love and give—to make an eternal impact. So much of our efforts on this earth will fade. The secret things are shaping us, and we’ll carry them with us, all the way home. Let’s guard them.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).