Out of the shadows
When I was 25, I got my ears pierced and started eating meat for the first time in my life.
(It was the height of my rebellion.)
And I remember a refreshing breakthrough of that wildly rebellious phase of mine. For years I had been different. My family had all sorts of quirks that I grew to love once I outgrew my childish urge to fit in, and I had come to cling onto those traits that set me apart only for their own sake, not because I had actively chosen them for myself or felt they were particularly important to me or my identity.
So, when I reached a quarter of a century, I took the carnivorous, ear-piercing leap and found out: standing out just for the heck of it isn't really all it's cracked up to be. I happen to like meat, and I also happen to like wearing earrings.
Fast forward three years, and I took quite possibly the most radical leap in the other direction: I joined the convent. I gave away most of my earthly possessions, said goodbye (maybe forever) to my friends, and began living a life of prayer and penance and service, safely tucked away from much of the commotion of the world. I didn't do it to be different, of course; I did it out of love for Jesus and in response to His crystal clear invitation.
Fast forward another two years, and Jesus has called me out of the convent, and I am beginning to navigate the wild ride that is returning to the world. For the first few months, I waded in with a flip phone and a sworn aversion to social media. Now, my patience with T9Word running thin and my ache to connect with old friends who know and love me growing stronger by the day, I'm diving back into the technologically connected life.
Truth be told, it's all very overwhelming.
Part of me wants to run from it all, to resort back to the simple, disconnected, screen-less life and go on writing letters and making phone calls and scheduling face-to-face visits exclusively. But God has arranged for me to live in the world here and now, and He's given me dozens of friends across the country, and He's offering me the grace to exercise virtue in the face of all sorts of worldly temptations.
So, I'm getting back out there. I'm leaving my e-wallflower ways behind and stumbling along, friending or following familiar faces and rejoicing at the flood of lovely messages and marveling at the recognition that, in fact, so much good can come from social media.
I may be a meat-eating, earring-wearing Facebooker, but I've got to admit: I'm still pretty different.
And that's fine by me.