2016 has been an exciting year for guest blogger Kimberly Drew. She and her husband adopted a baby girl this summer. This fall her new book Refresh: Spiritual Nourishment for Parents of Children with Special Needs, co-authored with Jocelyn Green. Today Kimberly divulges the social media special needs transparency dilemma that came to light when Kimberly cracked open a copy of her new book and began to read.
Special Needs Transparency Dilemma: To Post or Not To Post
I recently co-authored a devotional for parents of children with special needs with my dear friend, Jocelyn Green. The project was was labor of love that was years in the making. When the box of books arrived at my doorstep, my heart pounded with excitement! I opened the box and there were fifty copies of a beautiful book with my name on the cover.
I waited until the kids went to bed to crack a copy open and enjoy the finished product.
As sat with my coffee reading words I wrote, I started to feel a little bit of panic. Wow! I was very honest about what life raising a child with disabilities has looked like for our family. I suddenly felt that maybe I was too transparent. People I know are going to read this book and see right into my thoughts and heart.
I had to take a moment and reflect on the purpose of this devotional book. The purpose is to encourage parents spiritually who, like me, are on a sometimes overwhelming, lonely, and unique journey. Each devotional is filled with stories of families with children with special needs. They share some intimate moments with the reader and then point the reader to Scripture and what the Bible can teach us about how our circumstances and experiences do not define our beliefs. However, our beliefs can help us to define our experiences in a way that changes our hearts and lives for the better.
This realization made me think about living in a culture obsessed with social media and transparency. On social media it’s important to think about the why behind a post. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has read someone’ Facebook status and thought, “That is really more information than I needed to know.” I can’t be the only one who hides certain individuals from my news feed because they continue to post inflammatory, embarrassing, or private information about their family life online!
Before I post something online, I ask myself two questions: Is it helpful? Is it kind? If the post can’t pass my litmus test of appropriateness, then I usually keep my thoughts and feelings to myself. If it’s an honest thought or moment in my life that could be expanded into something that might help another person, then I might blog about it.
So what about the ranting and raving we so often see on social media? I think the need to vent online is a reflection of lack of intimacy in personal relationships. This is a very easy trap to fall into when you have children with special needs because it’s often hard to find the time to develop deep meaningful relationships. Even so, I encourage you to make the time for yourself to have these kinds of friendships. You have no idea how many embarrassing and inflammatory posts the world has been spared because I picked up the phone and called my sister-in-law Lori instead of answering Facebook question, “What’s on your mind?” These real life relationships can help us sort out the things that cause us to feel stressed, angry, or upset.
In the end, I solve the special needs transparency dilemma by going back to Phillipians 4:8. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
If what I have to say isn’t any of those good things, I shouldn’t say it…let alone share it. In a devotional book for parents of kids with special needs. Or online.
How Do You Handle the Special Needs Transparency Dilemma?
Leave a comment or tip about how you solve the special needs transparency dilemma in the comment box. Thanks!
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