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“Rejoice with those who rejoice”—on Facebook

Facebook is not always good for one’s mental health. Maybe you’re the type that posts provocative political posts and then engages in “friendly banter” in the comments. No matter how civil or unflappable you may be, you can be sure that the collective blood pressure of those reading your post is rising.
Maybe you are the Facebook type who takes international vacations quarterly and posts about how much you needed a break, complete with photos of luscious landscapes and luxurious accommodations.
Or maybe you’re the type to hop on and complain or rant about all of the things going wrong in your life. You’d like everyone to know how bad your day is so they will commiserate, encourage and affirm, or make it better.
And there are plenty of other Facebook types. No matter what, Facebook can be a hard place to be if you struggle with discontentment and judgmentalism.
The urge to hop on and complain is tempting to me. But it’s not helpful. Much better to save my whining for embodied friendship that provides the ability to shape me and to change my attitude. If people on Facebook call me out on my attitude, I am much more likely to stomp my virtual foot.
A friend of mine started a sometime habit of asking her Facebook friends for their good news, particularly when she was having a less-than-smooth day. Inspired, I gave it a try. I was feeling grumpy after a rough start to the day. Instead of giving in to my urge to complain, I requested: “Friends, tell me your good news today. I want to rejoice with you!”
The response was fabulous. People from all stages of my life responded with big news (job offers, home buying, and children getting married) and small (going to bed listening to rain on the roof, the arrival of a new book, and back pain subsiding.) One friend even remarked: “I don’t know any of you, but this is fun!”
It is fun to rejoice. It is a good thing to celebrate the big things and the small ones in our lives. Rejoicing with others pulls us out of our own concerns and gives us a bigger picture of life. Even though there are painful things happening all around us, on any given day there are many people in our lives with whom we could rejoice. We just have to ask. And though it was a thrill to celebrate new jobs and new houses and a new daughter-in-law, I was reminded that simple gifts like the sound of rain on the rooftop are reasons to rejoice.
Anna Moseley Gissing

Anna Moseley Gissing is Associate Academic Editor of InterVarsity Press. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and her writing has been published in Let us Keep the Feast and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two kids, and she aspires to more reading, more writing, and more patience.

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