(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

Sometimes it is too much, being able to know about so many people’s sorrows and needs in real-time. Whether the news is about a baby with a life-threatening condition or someone in great pain or a terminal diagnosis or the loss of someone’s dog, with our social media networks we keep in touch with so many people that our awareness of loss and difficulties is heightened.

All these life events have always happened and perhaps we learned of them from a distance and after time passed. Of course, we ached for people, but often we had lost contact with those we knew in different phases of our lives. Their news was more some vague sort of “circle of life” thing that did not touch us in the same way news touches us when someone is currently in our lives.

And, yet, the benefit of remaining connected is gaining the understanding that what any of us goes through individually is part of some larger human condition. We are not alone in our paths—there really is someone out there who does know what we are going through, even if those closest in our everyday lives have never experienced what we are experiencing. Sometimes walking on a similar journey takes strangers or near-strangers and makes them into lifelong friends, whether or not they ever meet in “real” life.

Who is to say how the prayers of random people we may know just a little or not at all make a difference? Just God, I guess.

So, though our awareness of others’ burdens is increased, so also is our ability to lift up those in need.

For that reason alone, for me, the scales weigh in the favor of extending my contacts versus reducing them. Some days I may need to circle my wagons against the weight of the world, but that doesn’t take away the world’s great needs.

As much as others–including those who do not know me well–have given me support, I know the only way to live my gratitude is to pass on that support to others. Whenever I can, I open that circle—and pray.