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Friday, October 01, 2010

Social Media Reunions

I have to be honest and start by saying that I really didn't even notice it at first. It sort of crept up on me. One day I'm going along with normal experiences and normal thoughts. Another day I "wake up" and realize that something else has been happening. There's been another dimension to my experience that I wasn't even aware of!

I'm talking about those reunions we are getting to make with the use of social media networks. LinkedIn and Facebook are two that I frequent. I have more than 800 and 460 links and friends on them respectively. Many of those are reconnections. They're people I used to know. Maybe we went to grade school together. Maybe we worked together. Honestly, some of them I haven't seen since we were children. But I find them - or they find me - on the social media network.

It starts a little awkwardly. You have to do some exchanges to make sure it's who you think it is. Sometimes you have to convince them that it's really you. I reconnected, for example, with a woman I truly thought was dead! It was quite a shock to find that she wasn't, and to start having a dialogue on Facebook. But eventually you get to the inevitable question. It goes something like this. "So, tell me how your life has turned out."

The question tends to yield a somewhat predictable answer. We hear of spouses, marriages, children, careers, grandchildren and other milestones. Frankly, most of them are pretty encouraging. I'm learning that these people I'm reconnecting with are well-adjusted, satisfied and living good lives. None of them are rich or famous. But they are secure and content. (I think that's better!)

So I went through a few of these, and they all had what I call "happy endings." Besides the woman who wasn't dead, I suppose the biggest story was the son of an old high school friend. This high school buddy had gotten his girlfriend pregnant and dropped out of our freshmen year of college to go back home and marry her. Looking for him on-line, I accidentally connected with his son by the same name (he is a junior).

I thought at first I was talking to my old friend. I soon realized that this was his adult son - the product of that ill-fated pregnancy many years ago. That son is an ordained minister now, with two kids. (They are the grandchildren of my old high school pal.) And my mind went back to the memory of the conversation we had about the possibility of an abortion. I am thinking to myself as I correspond with this young man, "Wow! I remember your father and mother considering getting an abortion when you were conceived!"

Faced with the choice of having an abortion and pursuing their own desires in life, they instead chose to get married, make sacrifices and raise the child. I eventually connected with the young man's parents and there's no doubt they are eternally grateful that they did not have an abortion. They are still happily married and now have this fine young man for a son, and some wonderful grandchildren. It's a surreal experience. I don't remember any joy with that pregnancy, the dropping out of college, etc. In fact, I remember a lot of tears. But today, well there is joy - and lot's of it.

I don't know when exactly it was that it first started. But somewhere along the way, it became more than just fun to catch up and hear how their lives had turned out. I started to realize that these stories were giving me hope. Maybe when I was younger I envisioned some sort of reunion where I would celebrate that fact (hopefully) that I was better off then they were. I think we all secretly have a bit of that envious streak in us with regard to class reunions, for instance.

But the reality is I am quite pleased to hear that their lives have turned out well. More than pleased, I'm joyous and filled with hope. Quite frankly, it makes me focus more on the long term blessings of God. I begin to see that while God was working things out in my life, He was doing the same for so many other people. Truly, He is a remarkable God!

I don't know how many more long lost friends, peers, co-workers, etc. I will get to connect with on these social media networks. But I have to say that I'm anxious to find more of them. Each one I find seems to bring a story of hope. It brings a story of God's amazing grace, and re-affirms the fact that life does work out, despite its distractions.

I'm praising God for these social media reunions. And I wonder if anyone ever imagined that social media networks could deliver such a fantastic result!

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