So, the world is banging on the door, again. LOL. Once more, identity thieves have been at it. This time, a man from Pakistan chose to steal the personal information from people who play “Words with Friends” online. Over 218 million people. And, one of them would be me. Recently, I was getting these weird invites to play rounds with perfect strangers. All men. All in my relative age group. I had my identity locked down. No email. No full name. No personal information. And then, quite suddenly, all these invites to play games with men I do not know. My husband just happened to mention it to me, in passing, about the identity theft. And it all made sense. The “bots” were hammering at me to be weak and let them in. Not gonna happen. A game is not worth my personal security. Or my online security. For many I played the game with, this was our single point of contact, and I will miss gabbing with them as we play. But if our friendship revolves only around a game, it is not much of a relationship. I do miss my online friends and that game, though!!
There will always be thieves trying to break in. They come in so many forms and iterations. “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (Corinthians 11:14) And this recent breach, or rather effort at a breach, made me pull back. Once or twice before I have had to delete my presence from the web. But we all know that once that information has gone on the web, it never really goes away. We can lessen our footprint, but we are always out there. Recently, we chose to purchase a new mattress. It’s our first in over 20 years. They asked our names, and then started verifying information about us that we had not offered to them, yet. It, quite frankly, really bothered me. It inspired me to think about this and to eventually write this post. The company is apparently part of many businesses, and a single warehouse, used by these furniture businesses in the area. We had placed a tentative order for some chairs about two years ago at one of these different stores, but ended up cancelling the order. From that 2-year-old order, they had all the information they needed on us. Kinda scary, isn’t it? Well, today I learned these businesses have been masquerading as separate entities who shared a warehouse. But they are all owned by one family. I felt lied to, on many fronts. Mattress salespeople. Used cars. Yeah. I filled the moat and pulled up the drawbridge.
I have been feeling sort of frustrated in some ways, with the tone of what is happening in the media and online, and with how people treat each other. Everyone is so angry. We deleted things that are not life-building and that engender anger. We lean a certain direction and have made sure we support our beliefs by what we fill our minds with. We are endeavoring to find that happy medium, because it is out there. That place where you can navigate the world safely. No man is an island and you cannot pretend nothing is going on beyond your own moat, but you can moderate how deep you wade into it all.
Recently, someone posted about how we quiet Christians need to rise up and be strong, and fight more in the way we are being attacked. My comment was that we still need the quiet Christians who pray for everyone. We also need to be kind, loving, and peaceful, but that we cannot just lay down and be run over. The happy medium spot. And it is a balancing act. But I know that if we quiet Christians make a noise, it needs to be in the voting booth. It needs to be where our financial support can do good for all people.
The fear of this insane world consuming our faith, our life, our country, our world, is not really ours to be fearful of, because it is God’s battle. We are parts of, and pieces of, His Army, but the Angels and Saints have watch over us. In this world, we are called to love others. We are called to be His Witness by the way we treat other people. We do not have to climb into the gutter so the “other side” will hear our message. Our children learn from our example, and that is the passive way in which we raise them. But so do others. Sometimes it is just a sentence or thought we share. Sometimes someone will say something and it just does not leave your mind. You chew on it for days and the meaning becomes clearer. This same goes for this experience with a data breach, or my feeling that there is too much of me out there, and not enough left, safely behind my drawbridge. I have been pondering it.
The world is coming apart. Violence against innocents that just happen to disagree with you. People being injured and worse for a different viewpoint. I listened to a Podcast about how using Google can actually change your mind and how you think about things. Some of the studies and experiments prove that Google and their subsidiaries like You Tube, Instagram, etc. are changing how people VOTE. Their influence is what you see in the first 4 choices of a search. (There is a whole section of the study about that!!!) And that Google is working with China – the country that controls its population with facial recognition, a state controlled internet, etc. We should all be re-evaluating what we put out there. Because someone is logging every keystroke. They may not come after you, yet, but your statistics are used to make changes in what we see, hear, and learn. I think we need to pay attention. And I think we should pull back from media. I’ve decided to play less and read more. The TV has not even been on all day. I have not looked at much social media today, either. I left Facebook (which those same studies about Google say that Facebook has changed our brains and it may be irreversible). I am retreating more into the here and now; trying to be present to who I am with. I am also learning to rely on myself in the sense of my relationship with God and me. Because I am who I live with most of my day, and I talk to Him a lot. (I hope he doesn’t think I overshare or am too gabby!!). I am responsible to God for how I spend my time, and what I do with it. I pray; I read God’s word; I am thankful. God’s got this battle we are in the midst of, even if you don’t see the battle or recognize the battlefield. Just do one thing – pray. If that is all you do to change today, it is a huge step, as simple as it is. “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Just say it over and over all day long. You will be amazed at how your life will change, if you let it. Once you add prayer, get into the Psalms and the Proverbs. Read God’s Word for you!
I refuse to let the insanity around me steal my faith, or to make me play their games, their way. We need not be fearful. We need not become hermits. But we need judiciousness in what we do believe in, how we spend our time, and who we spend it with. I believe in God and His sovereignty over all the world. Faith. Prayer. Love. Forgiveness. Peace. The virtues, not the vices. The faith, not despair. The Lord gave us a road map to make our way through this. Simple steps, one at a time, will take us where we need to be. And sometimes, it is okay to fill that moat and pull up the drawbridge to re-orient ourselves, rededicate ourselves, to a life lived first in faith. Free from the world’s pull, but still in it. Thanks be to God.