Cloud of witnesses — a thank you

Sometimes, my mother (hi mom! love you!) tells me that I post too much on these here interwebs. I am, it is true, a chronic oversharer. Not too long ago, I was told that one of the things noted about me (negatively) in an interview process was that I overshared. I just thought well, if you don’t want oversharing (which I just think of as openness and being comfortable with myself, BTW), I’m not the right person for you. Truth.

Sometimes I can go too far. I hear words coming out of my mouth and wish I could pull them back in. But when it comes to what I post on Facebook and other social media sites, as well as here on my blog, I generally think very carefully about what I post. I am, surprisingly to some, intentional.

I do, indeed, share personal things about my life, I share my struggles, I share when things are crappy and when things are awesome and I try (and hopefully succeed) to strike a good balance between the two, reflecting the reality of my life as it is.

In part, this is because so many people whitewash their lives online so that they appear to have the perfect life, while others whine so much it is hard to think of why anyone is friends with them (I am pretty sure that I don’t have anyone like this in my news feed). I want to be real and to show my brokenness for the people out there who are going through some shit but are too private, shy, reserved or whatever to put it out there for the world (this is not a bad thing, just different). It is nice to know that someone else’s day sucks too, that other people are struggling. In fact, when I was in the deepest pits of despair after my husband left, I really wanted to have a way to filter all of the happy news (especially the happy family/marriage/engagement/baby news) out of my FB stream. I wanted to be in a community of others who were feeling as emotionally fucked up as I was. But no one wants to read that all the time and, thankfully, my life isn’t like that all the time. So I throw out the joys as well, so we can all celebrate together. And, even when I am in the pits of despair (with ROUS’),  I do enjoy knowing that my friends lives are going well. It is good to be reminded that it won’t always suck.

The big reason, however, for my oversharing is not my desire to be real, it is my desire for community. Since graduating high school and heading to college, I have lived in at least nine places. My people are spread all around the world. Seattle, as much as I love it, is not the easiest place to make friends. My community here is strong, but it is also small and made up of people who have their own lives, kids, super busy jobs, etc. So, in many ways, my community lives online.

Throughout the past year, I have received so much support via social media. People I haven’t heard from since high school have reached out to me to provide support. College friendships have been rekindled, people who I barely talked to IRL have become comrades on my journey, and new friends have been made. I said to the internet, “Divorce sucks!” and my electronic cloud of witnesses responded, “Totally. And we’ll help you through.”

So, thank you. Thank you to everyone who has sent me a message, who has provided support through comments, who has sent me a text after seeing something on my FB page, who has prayed for me, who has listened to me complain, cry out, bitch and just work out my confusion. You caught me when I was falling and carried me through this incredibly difficult time.

In the book of Hebrews, it is written, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses  let us also lay aside every weight, every sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” You are my cloud of witnesses, surrounding me, helping me to lay aside my weight, my brokenness, and break free from my sin, cheering me on as I run this race. Thank you.

To those who don’t participate in social media, who think it is some kind of false replacement for real friendships, well, you probably aren’t reading this. But if for some reason you are, please hear me saying that you are wrong. My friendships have, by and large, been formed, fed and/or strengthened by the ability to share what is going on in my life and to have people respond, to read about what is happening in my friends lives and to reach out to commiserate, laugh, cry or provide an electronic hug. Yes, I would prefer it if I could have these friendships in person, but the nature of most of our lives today doesn’t allow for that. I can’t move 10 times and have all of my people in the same place physically. But, thanks to this technology (with which, like many of you, I have a love/hate relationship), I am able to keep track of the people who have walked with me along the way. I am so thankful for this. I can’t imagine how hard this journey would have been without all of you.

Thank you.

Bright clouds over blue sky

You’re right there. See?


About Elizabeth Rawlings

Lutheran. Feminist. Child of God. Thinking about how to be a leader in a church that is trying to rediscover itself and what it means to live simply so that others may simply live in tandem with what exactly is the fast God asks of us. Chronic alliterator. Generally silly person. View all posts by Elizabeth Rawlings

5 responses to “Cloud of witnesses — a thank you

  • Sarah Henderson

    I love this blog, Elizabeth. My family is spread from Annapolis to LA and to cities in-between. FB has helped us to connect in many ways, even to the extent of planning and having an 18 person Henderson reunion, which was wonderful.
    Keep oversharing – it’s a good thing! Oh, and by the way, I love the way you write.

  • annamporter

    I am a staunch defender of the connectedness of social media. I am connected–and have rekindled and even brought about face-to-face meetings–because of it. Especially now that I don’t drive. With family flung from PA to CA to WA and everywhere in between, social media keeps us in touch in ways we never could have been before. And it keeps me connected to you, dear Elizabeth. Love and hugs.

  • Steve

    I’ve read some of your posts Elizabeth and I can’t help but like you as a person. I’m far too controversial for anyone to openly agree with much of what I say because I believe Jesus told us the truth about loving one another and the Kingdom of God is within you. These things are just too unpopular in a country that preaches the good christian values of going to war and slaughtering thousands of people so we can steal their oil and resources. So I understand that it’s not good for business to take those kinds of extreme positions. I’m not gay myself, but I think it’s terrible that christian preachers convince their flocks they will burn in hell forever and ever if they support or endorse that type of behavior, but it’s perfectly acceptable in their eyes to abuse and beat their women into submission. Yes, I’m a serious rebel and while I deeply believe and trust in God I do not blindly follow so called leaders who wear nice clothing and put crosses around their necks. Jeremiah 17:5 “Cursed is the man who puts his trust in man” It’s not as bad as I seem to be saying as their are a lot of nice people in churches trying to help people in many ways, but the problem as I see it is when people look at others as their master or leader, when in truth they are their brother or sister. If a preacher cares about people and tries to help that’s great, but it’s got be a tough choice when for them to make when a lot of money is on the line. Telling people the truth in that they God may teach them and lead them could cost a a church lots of revenue from books, tapes, video’s, and training seminars.

    No one’s perfect, but I sense you are a good person for the most part 🙂

  • Connect-the-Cloths

    I have recently received the feedback of “over-sharing” during an interview as well! In this age of emphasized *engagement*, I was quite surprised. I believe “over-sharing” conveys knowledge & confidence.

    ❤ Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    A stylist, foodie, & writer's blog in development.

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