The Internet and me
Though I am part of a traditional church set up, many weeks I am unable to attend due to either illness, disability or lack of energy. Many of my friends in wowchurch (started by Dave) have a similar predicament to me but for many different reasons, including being hurt by other Christians and/or churches in the past, mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, or lack of safe, affordable transport or myriad other reasons. Unfortunately, in my case, being unable to get to church, or even to leave the house for days or weeks increased my feelings of isolation and loneliness, and of bring ‘different’ to others my age.
Thanks to the internet, though I can listen to podcasts and therefore still access biblically based resources. (The Partakers ones are especially helpful!) including ‘Monday Think Spot and Tuesday’s reading of the Psalms, or I can read daily devotionals. Some of my favourite are written by Joni-Eareckson-Tada, Christian author, speaker, and artist, who has been serving Jesus faithfully for years despite some of the most severe disability you can think of. Other sites I use include Bible Gateway, to look up bible verses, which is much easier for me than trying to hold a traditional bible without dropping it, and I can keep in touch with fellow Christians through social media including those in the Church I go to, all from my smartphone, even while confined to bed. This is of course providing I don’t do something silly like lock myself out of my phone, as I did recently!
One of the best things about keeping in touch with friends, and often people also involved in WOWChurch is I can use it to encourage other people so I am helping to make a difference to their lives too. Talking to others about what’s going on in their lives allows for the influence of different perspectives which allows my own sense of perspective to deepen. This includes both those in a similar situation, and those facing entirely different circumstances to myself.
This is so important because it helps me to see life in a more positive way, to learn from people who have had completely different experiences to me. and also allows feelings of isolation to lift a little. Often the effects of this honest kind of friendship run deeper. Seeing others’ faith blossom has encouraged me to grow in my own faith, being determined to be disciplined about regular bible reading and prayer. My friendships with people I have met online do not stop there however… they have the potential to last into eternity. The wonderful thing is I know for certain that one day I will meet friends face-to-face in heaven (if not before!).
A word of warning is necessary though. It is important that we regulate our use of the internet, even though for helpful purposes, and do not neglect ‘alone time with God’ spent in personal bible study and prayer. Solitude is vital, as it helps us learn to talk to God, away from distractions, to come away from noise and busyness and to rest, fully refreshed and ready to serve others again.
I once shared my testimony via a podcast, a couple of years ago now. (The link is here – ) An updated version of it should be available later this month. We’re calling the series “Jackie and Joy.”