September 24, 2011
Hearing of Twitter for the first time, I roll my eyes with the drama of a silent-movie starlet. Egad, as if facebook isn't enough. Along with the rest of the self-employed, artists use facebook to promote themselves, an activity for which I have very little stomach. The noisiest ones post a seemingly endless stream of links to their latest gallery events and jobs done for Big Shot Clients. I try to be happy for them but let's face it: in the end, checking my fb feed leaves me exhausted and underwhelmed. Thankfully, my beloved, long-suffering agent—a tough cookie, for whom I daily pray—thrives on the game, is fed by it; therefore, I largely leave the promotion of my career to her. God's behind it all, but Anna is the front (wo)man. As for me, I love Jesus, who preaches the opposite of self-promo: "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all," (Mark 9:35).
Imagine my surprise and the smirk on my face when I get asked to teach Self-Promotion at the esteemed and much ballyhooed Savannah College of Art and Design. Ignoring my protests they assign me Self-Promo again and again. My teaching plan includes as many guest speakers as I can wrangle into the classroom, either live or via Skype. They all say the same thing: You have to be on Twitter. It's a virtual cocktail party; any art director who is Anybody is on the guest list. Ick. Resisting the urge to fake-vomit, I finally set up accounts on Twitter and Hootsuite for my illustration business. Gotta learn it, to teach it. Meanwhile I prayerfully lament, Jesus, I wish there was a way for me to use all of this technology and the education you've given me, to promote YOU!
I sit down with my bible—or rather, my husband's pristine copy of Eugene Peterson's modern-day interpretation of it: The Message. Fred loans it to me for a year-long reading plan. Reaching for my trusty highlighter and magic multi-color ballpoint pen to mark it up, my usual habit, I think, hmmmm, better not... not my book. Maybe I'll tweet this verse instead. I create new accounts for this purpose, using my real name, and have been tweeting verses from The Message ever since. Another prayer, answered. If a Scripture interests me or touches my heart, or if I know it can help someone in need, I tweet it.
At first this is an outlet, but it becomes an actual ministry. How efficient of Him. I mean, I'm sitting here anyway... may as well be sharing. True to form, as I show up each day to do the work Jesus assigns, He blesses me in unexpected ways. Things get interesting almost immediately. In response to a series of tweets taken from Matthew 11, a young woman in India inquires: Mum, is this true? Jesus is not a fan of religion? I reply, Yes dear, Jesus wants RELATIONSHIP, not RELIGION. God is always ahead of me, providing what I need before it's needed. I follow a link tweeted by @StickyJesus that preps me to prayerfully handle the irritated atheists who eventually pop up in my mentions. Most importantly, God leads me to some who seem lost and lonely. I share the gospel, pray, #engage. Certain friendships, thusly formed, move beyond Twitter. #Jesus won't be confined to that little box, or any other.
Due to the content of my timeline I get dumped by any new *friends* who are offended by the bible. My Tweeps are largely Jesus-lovers, a global tech-savvy church who provide a steady stream of encouragement. #GoTeamJesus! To the World, these are VIRTUAL friends; to me, this comradery is very real and greatly appreciated. My job requires large amounts of time spent alone with my laptop; my Twitter Buds have become my office mates. We spend the day alternately checking up on one another, cracking wise, and discussing great theological truths. This is good fruit. Thank God, in heaven we won't be separated by oceans or constrained to 140 characters at a time. I for one look forward to that day.
Meanwhile, follow me @catherinefru, and I will gladly follow you!