Author Archives: Jason Rossiter

About Jason Rossiter

Orthodox Christian. IT pro. Photography hack. Cleveland denizen.

A New Gift from an Old Friend

I try not to get too involved with Facebook. Sometimes this is difficult, because using and understanding Facebook is part of my job, and because Facebook has also been a great way to keep in touch with friends and family on opposite sides of the country. And yet it is not difficult to see how Facebook has fostered a rampant societal narcissism, filled with people who are publishing online fictions of their “lives,” portraying themselves as they wish to be seen, rather than who they truly are. It is a false interaction, and a spiritually dangerous place for those who are not careful.

For this reason, I tend to share very little about my personal life on Facebook. Apart from occasional prayer requests and the odd re-share of goofy pictures and videos and whatnot, most of my Facebooking is passive: viewing pictures of my nieces’ and nephews’ latest antics, reading news about friends’ job searches. Things like that. I do my best to ignore the grandstanding, politics, whining, and announcements about one’s latest bowel movement or trip to the grocery store. I make judicious use of the “hide story” option and customized feed lists to keep this detritus out of my main feed. (I’m not trying to thump my chest and brag about my own Facebook self-control or technological prowess–far from it. By all means, everyone who uses Facebook should learn how to use the site’s tools to shield themselves from unwanted content, and I’d be happy to show anyone how if they would like to know.)

But something happened to me recently on Facebook that has unnerved me a bit. In truth, it has unnerved me far more than it should have. I have discovered that someone I know–one of my best friends, in fact–rejected my recent Facebook friend request. Not only did they reject the request, but they did so by blocking me–utterly obliterating my name from their Facebook universe, and becoming totally invisible to me on Facebook in the process.

I know that this should not bother me–and it really shouldn’t, as I’ll describe in a minute. But in truth, it has bothered me. A lot. And after a bit of reflection on this, I think that the fact that it has bothered me so much is just as troubling to me as the fact that the block happened in the first place.

There are many perfectly legitimate and mundane reasons why this old friend might have chosen to refrain from connecting with me on Facebook. I have not seen or spoken to the person in question in more than 15 years. I have no idea what has happened in this other person’s life since 1996, or what is going on in their world today, or with their family, or their health, or their state in life. No idea whatsoever. This person and I may have been really good friends in 1996, but that was 1996, and I was an idiot in 1996. People getting drivers’ licenses today weren’t even born in 1996. A lot has happened since then.

So why I am I so tied up in knots? Isn’t it obvious? Someone doesn’t like me! My online sensibilities have been offended! And isn’t that really it? Isn’t that why I am so upset about this? I think so… and the thought of that is humbling, and frightening, because it shows me just how far I still have to go in my growth as a human, and as a Christian. It shows me that, despite my best efforts, I remain caught up in the same stupid narcissism that I see all around me, caught up in my own reflection. Instead of concern for this old friend of mine and hope for the person’s well-being, I’m more concerned about myself, and of the person’s impressions of me. As the old joke goes, “Enough about me, how about you? What do you think of me?”

In truth, this person has a perfectly legitimate reason to steer clear of me, and I know it. This friend was one of only two people to stand up to me and warn me many years ago when I was about to embark on a very major and very stupid change in my life. Everyone else in my life–friends and family alike–were patting me on the back for my decision to engage in this new endeavor, no doubt believing they were helping bolster my self-esteem by their encouragements. But this person had the courage to let me know that my decision was ill-advised, and dumb, and that it would cause pain–all of which ultimately proved true. Yet at the time, I persisted in my detour into what Dave Ramsey might call “the land of stupid.” In fact, I made it a point to boldly announce to this old friend that was embarking on my new adventure and that I was actually quite proud of the fact, the friend’s objections notwithstanding.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most dumb decisions and regrettable moments of my life. I finally came to my senses several years ago, glory to God. But for all I know, this old friend may believe that I’m still wandering in that same land of stupid. Maybe that’s the motivation behind the “block”; that would certainly be understandable. But maybe not. Maybe it’s something else entirely. And at the end of the day, I know in my heart that it really should not matter. It really cannot matter.

What should matter, if my head were screwed on properly, is that this old friend gave me a tremendous gift, even if it did take me many years to recognize and appreciate the gift for what it was. This old friend helped to save me from my own stupidity, because that lone word of caution truly did echo through my head for fifteen long years. I am sitting here today, comparatively safe from my prior stupid, in no small part because this person’s courage. I should be rejoicing for this old friend, thanking God for sending him to plant that seed exactly where and when it was planted. That is where my heart should be, and that is where I am trying very hard to redirect it now, rather than at the shame and hurt of offended online sensibilities, or at the fear that others may not perceive me in the way that I might want them to.

The more I think about it, the more I see this friend’s “block” as yet another gift. My mistake long ago might mean that I’ve lost this person as a presence in my life in 2014, or at least as a presence in my Facebook timeline. As Roy Hobbs would say, there are some mistakes that you never stop paying for. But this new gift from this old friend has also shown me how attached I still remain to others’ perceptions of me. It has highlighted more rough edges in my life that still need filing down.

But this time, I won’t take fifteen years to acknowledge the gift. Old friend–and if you are reading this, you know who you are–thank you very much, both for your true friendship so long ago, and for this new gift you’ve given me as well. May God grant you many wonderful years, and many, many happy days.

[Note: I do still intend to keep this blog relatively dormant, notwithstanding my prior post, but as this post shows, I do on occasion have something to say that won’t exactly fit elsewhere. I’ll try to keep my blathering to a minimum.]

Thank You

I do not see any need to continue this blog further. The Internet is filled with far too much chatter. Most of it is useless. Much of it is destructive. While I pray that nothing I wrote is of the latter variety, I am convinced, at the very least, that my time is better spent elsewhere, rather than blathering away online. There are certainly others on the Internet who are far better sources of information than me, especially as I am only just beginning my own road. I will leave my prior posts up and available for those who are interested. But those who need edification and enlightenment should look elsewhere–and you should start with your nearest Orthodox priest.

If you have been offended by anything that I have written, please forgive me. If you have enjoyed anything that I have written, give thanks to God. If you need to track me down individually, you can find me (for now) on Facebook, on Twitter, on my law firm’s blog, or on my law firm’s website. I’ll also try and keep my about.me page reasonably up-to-date.

Glory to God for all things.

The East Gate

So The Lord said to me,
‘This gate shall be shut.
It shall not be opened,
And no man shall pass through it,
Because the Lord God of Israel will enter by it;
Therefore, it shall be shut.’

Ezekiel 44:2

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Today people want to be loved and for this reason they are unsuccessful. The correct way is to not be interested in whether or not people love you, but whether or not you love Christ and people. This is the only way that the soul is fulfilled.

Elder Porphyrios, on Being Loved

The Best Word on Abortion I’ve Ever Heard

On the Greatness of St. John Chrysostom

The Arena

Listen to Sermons from the Amvon of St. Andrew Church on Ancient Faith Radio at
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“The present life is a wrestling school, a gymnasium, a battle, a smelting furnace, and a dyer’s house of virtue” – St John Chrysostom
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
St. John Chrysostom
Dear and Pious Readers
Blessings of the Lord!
 
On the Greatness of St. John Chrysostom
The same Athanasios also told us this concerning the same Bishop Adelphios, which he heard from Amma Joanna, his sister:
“When John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, was exiled to the Caucasus, he stayed at our house; from which we drew much boldness and love towards God. My brother, Adelphios, said that when the blessed John died in exile, it was an unbearable pain to him that such a man, the ecumenical teacher of Christendom who made glad…

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A Warrior Saint… On Veteran’s Day

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How fitting that the Church honors St. Menas today, a military officer from the late 3rd/early 4th century who gave up everything for Christ. From the OCA website:

When the emperors began the fiercest persecution against Christians in history, the saint refused to serve these persecutors. He removed his soldier’s belt (a sign of military rank) and withdrew to a mountain, where he lived an ascetic life of fasting and prayer.

Once he happened to arrive in the city during a pagan festival. At the climax of the games the saint’s accusing voice rang out, preaching faith in Christ, the Savior of the world. At his trial before the prefect Pyrrhus, the saint bravely confessed his faith, saying that he had come to denounce the impious. The prefect was angered, and had Menas arrested.

Pyrrhus offered to restore the saint’s former rank if he would offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. When he refused, he was put to cruel tortures, then he was beheaded. This occurred in the year 304. Christians gathered up the martyr’s relics by night and hid them until the end of the persecution. Later, they were brought to Egypt and placed in a church dedicated to St Menas southwest of Alexandria.

The saint received grace from God to work miracles, and to help those in need. St Menas is noted for healing various illnesses, delivering people from possession by demons, and as a protector, especially during times of war. …

The Mystagogy blog also recounts how St. Menas saved numerous pious Christians from an ambush by the Turks in the 19th century, and how the intercession of St. Menas helped to turn the tide in World War II.

Pray for us, St. Menas!