I’ve never kept a diary. I am pretty sure I would have had to turn in my man-card even before I knew I had a man-card if someone found out I was keeping a diary. Probably the closest thing I have ever kept to a diary was a spiral notebook with a series of letters I wrote to my daughter over a twenty-three year time period, beginning the day her mom and I found out we were expecting our first child and culminating the day before that child got married. I wrote down my reflections at different times in her life-- the day of her birth, first steps, first day of school, baptism, first date, graduations—those kinds of things. They were written just for her and I gave it to her as a gift the night before her wedding day. I can only hope that reading them meant as much to her as writing them meant to me.
Other than that, most of my writing has been for public consumption and I have been blessed with the opportunity of writing email devotionals, blogs, sermons, songs, a newspaper column, and one book (so far). Even the handful of journals I have kept over the years are fair game for anyone who finds them and reads them. I guess that is all to say that there are no deep, dark secrets written down anywhere that I wouldn’t want shared.
I don’t mean that there are no secret thoughts. I mean that there are things that just don’t need to be shared publicly. So, I don’t. There are some filters I run my thoughts through before I speak them or write them. And while I would not presume to suggest that my filters are the right ones for someone else, I do often wish that some people would run their thoughts through a few filters of some kind before they turn them loose on the rest of us.
I had an interesting conversation this week with some friends regarding social networking in general and Facebook in particular. I realize that not everyone participates in that particular form of social networking, but over 500 million people in the world do. Almost 900 of them are my “friends”. I enjoy the opportunity to connect with old friends from high school and college days. I enjoy keeping up with a lot of my ministry connections. I have nieces and nephews for which FB (don’t I sound really savvy with my abbreviation) is almost our exclusive means of communication. There are ways in which online social media have made our world smaller.
And a lot less private. I’m not talking so much about the predators and cyber bullies we hear about on the news. I’m talking about people sharing things that I just don’t need to hear. I’m talking about people who will post a prayer request one time and then follow it up with an expletive-laden rant the next. I’m talking about the joy-suckers who seem to live by the misery loves company creed. There are times I want to write, “Get a diary!”
At that moment, I realize that I am dangerously close to joining the ranks of the ranters and it seems that there are two options. Option one is calling them out and exposing their rantiness. Option two is jumping on the rantwagon along with them. (Not only can I abbreviate, I can make up new words).
But maybe there is a third option. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” What if I just made up my mind that I would use my words to build up? What if I just made up my mind that I would use my words to bless and benefit anyone who might hear or read the words I say? What if I concluded that when I assert that my life matters to God, it includes the words I say? What if I never wrote anything about someone that I would not want written about me?
I think I’ll start again. Dear Diary… Scratch that. Dear God …