Somewhere in my twitter feed I read:
“so glad to see gratitude is trending”
Trending by definition is the general tendency: said of events, discussion, opinions, etc. Using it as a verb is perfectly correct, as according to my giant, old dictionary, the word has usage as a noun and a verb.
Trending by social media standards is: topics most talked about, topics currently being discussed on Twitter. Most of the time, hash tags (#) precede the words that are trending without any spaces i.e #socialmedia.
It’s so easy to tweet a #thankyou. Simple to shoot a momentary thought of gratefulness into the vast sphere of the web. But trending gratitude is more complicated than jumping on and off the trending merry-go-round. Trending gratitude can empower believers the world over to be agents of change and the internet facilitates telescoping influence.
But there is heart-work involved in gratitude. Trite lip-service is a dry, shallow well. So while it’s easy to propel gratefulness into the world wide web, it’s difficult to be grateful while running late for your daughter’s piano lesson and finding roadwork on every possible route. It’s difficult to be thankful for your marriage, and poignantly phrase it in under 150 characters, when you haven’t had a complete conversation with your spouse in weeks (let alone a date!)
It’s hard, really hard, to be grateful for that $300.00 cell phone bill, the cat puke on the carpet or the incessant, real-life twitter of school-kids home for the summer.
So is gratitude trending or is it more of an ad-campaign? What are we trying to sell, and is anyone really buying?
No one is really interested in reading a complaining facebook status update or nit-picky “fighting words” on the twitter feed. So we all try to be upbeat and socially acceptable.
But are we truly grateful?
Are we breathless with wonder when we wake up, yet another morning of our life served up on a plateful of sky, inviting us to dig in and taste and see that the Lord is, indeed, good?
Are we grateful when our heads hit pillows that we have beds and pillows? Are we raising holy hands in daily praise to the savior whose name we claim?
We can be a part of an authentic gratitude trend in visceral and social ways, to be part of this definition of trending (also from my big dictionary).
To extend, turn, incline, bend, etc. in a specific direction. to tend to run as the river trends northward.
1. Be an authentic voice.
Jesus taught on prayer but it can be aptly applied to this idea of broadcasting gratitude. In Matthew 6 he uses the classic teaching method of showing how “not to do it”. He pointed out the religious leaders’ prayer style, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”
Do not be like them, he says. Be authentic in your conversations with God and then real, vulnerable and praiseworthy speech can pour through twitter and facebook like a trending river, full and rushing and fresh.
2. Be gentle.
In Philippians 4, Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Gentleness in this sense is not weakness or simply a soft-touch. Christlike gentleness is strength reigned in under the control of the Spirit of Christ. Doesn’t it seem interesting that Paul would say these three things in a stream: rejoice, be gentle, Jesus is near? Why does he do that?
I believe it’s to draw the line of focus to Jesus. He is always near. The compelling qualities of person of Jesus–the characteristics that make him interesting to believers and non-believers alike–were his thankfulness, his gentleness, his authentic voice and the inclusive nature of his healing and message of God’s love.
In our gratitude trend, these same qualities should be streaming through our voices, too.
3. Tell your story.
The disciples Peter and John led the way in proclaiming the Message of the Way, the good news of Jesus Christ. They were met with great opposition by the institution of the temple leadership. In Acts 4 we read Peter’s words, “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” They couldn’t help it–the story demanded to be told!
They had a story to tell. A story of transformed lives, redeemed souls, healed bodies, lost-and-now-found people, a story of ever-reaching power.
What’s your story? Consider the ways God has redeemed your life and gratitude–authentic and revitalizing– will flow from that story. The world needs to hear it. Gratitude indeed, like a river trending northward, can alter the course of the twitter feed, the news stream, the hearts millions and turn them straight to Jesus.
How do you tell your story? Do you, like me, struggle with the many words of the babbling brook of social media? Can we reign it in under gentleness? Can we broadcast gratitude and influence the trend?