Have you ever been ghosted? Even if like me, it’s a new term to you, chances are, you have been. Or, whether you were aware of it or not, perhaps you did the ghosting. For starters, it has nothing to do with Halloween.
Ghosting is when someone cuts off communication without explanation or apparent justification. It’s typically experienced online which may start innocuously with one ignored text. This thoughtless behavior happens in varying degrees across all relational circumstances. Generally, the one who is ‘ghosted’ is left feeling confused and hurt.
Even though Millennials started the trend, no-one is immune. My first experience happened long before I had a name for it. I know this will shock you (sarcasm!), but… my Millennial kids have, at times, ghosted me.
Social media is often to blame. But I’d suggest it’s fundamentally a reflection of today’s self-absorbed culture. Online communication demands less of us, less time and less emotional energy. Behind a screen, we’re in control; we feel safer and bolder with less need to be vulnerable. The pandemic, fueled by polarizing politics and increased isolation, only exacerbated this fraudulent connectedness. No wonder ghosting has become rampant.
Perhaps like me, most of your friendships were formed in person over years, and ghosting has not been your primary experience. Hang with me. Recently blindsided myself, the Lord used my experience to shed light on a valuable truth.
It’s NOT Harmless
For context, sociologists refer to Millennials as a generation of ghosts whose influence most directly impacts the Gen Xs and Gen Zs. Of course the Boomers who typically parent Millennials are greatly impacted too. This massive affected population has been forced to navigate relationships, replete with ghosters and ghostees and all the baggage they carry. I think we can all agree, it’s challenging out there.
Relationships are complex and messy and sometimes, it’s just easier to avoid the mess and move on. In a sense, ghosting is the modern day silent treatment often leaving no chance for reconciliation. Sadly, even though the seasoned victim may, over time, become desensitized, the phenomenon is NOT harmless.
After my recent bewildering experience, I was left with a pile of unanswered questions. Is she ok? Was it me? Something I said or did? Is it because of who I am or to whom I’m married? With no help from my ghoster, I had no recourse but to retreat into my own head to over-analyze and obsess. I re-traced my steps and considered prior connections in search of any warning signs I may have missed or misinterpreted.
In the end, all I could do was to move on. But not without realizing I had a fresh wound, a vulnerability I’d need to protect. And just like that, the enemy has a foothold. My once soft penetrable heart has acquired a thin layer of teflon.
Ghosted by God
Have you ever felt ghosted by God? In spite of your repeated requests for answers you hear nothing. Maybe your prayers for direction, confirmation or deliverance are met with dead silence. Crickets.
Before you react like you would with your former ghosting friend…
STOP. RIGHT. THERE.
God hasn’t ghosted you. He has Holy Ghosted you, which changes everything. God doesn’t leave us alone to figure things out. He has gifted us with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you.
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.
John 14:6 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
We all do it. When God is silent, we make assumptions and draw wrong conclusions. We don’t dare speak it aloud, but we entertain the notion that either God must not care or He isn’t all-powerful. So we move on. As time passes, the chasm grows and not depending on God gets easier. Without intention, more layers of teflon cover our heart.
How can we tell when we’ve drifted? Look for the fruit. In our own strength, apart from Him, fruit will not grow. Any effort to contribute to the Kingdom becomes impotent.
Galatians 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Stay Close to the Fire
So what’s the solution to God’s silence? Stay close to the fire. Spend time. Know His character. Read and re-read His text, the Holy Word of God. Pray for the Holy Spirit to encourage you. And most importantly, resist the temptation to move on because it’s a dangerous, cold and lonely place to be.
He’s Got Me
In my experience, the more I know Him, and the more history we share, the more I can trust Him. And the more I trust Him, the more patient I become. I no longer have to face a hard day with my arms crossed over my fragile heart. Instead, I risk it and face life head on with the iron clad conviction that He’s got me.
When my kid ignored my text, and the second text, and the third text, did I move on? Did I block my child, my heir? Are you $%%$%# kidding me? On my knees, I became a relentless pursuer. How much more will the Hound of Heaven pursue us?
Come Holy Spirit! Help me to experience God’s presence in the silence. Use this time to strengthen my faith, encourage my heart and shift my perspective. Amen.
Your message struck home. I have a dear friend who lives many miles away whom I text or call frequently, and I’m either ignored, or told “I’ll call back”,to no avail. I’ve learned to expect no response more often than not. I continue to pray for her and her family, holding them all dear in my heart
Thanks for your comment Richard. I think your response is ideal and quite selfless of you. May the Lord bless your relationship.
Dennis Wilson says
Terrific post. The presence of the Holy Spirit causes all ghosts to flee!
Indeed. He sure does quell the heart felt need that was exposed. Miss you guys. Come visit.
Anne kole says
I love the hound of heaven metaphor from Lewis because it is so appropriate! God never gives up on us, does he? I have been ghosted only once, even before the explosion of technology. It hurt.
You mentioned God’s word. We are so blessed to have it! Even when prayers seem to result in silence, the scripture speaks. Circumstances are constantly changing and God’s word is solid and true. Often the answers from God are right there as I read. He never gives up on us like I finally gave up on my friend who vanished from my life.
Thank you for your honest insight, Debbie.
Thank you for the reference to CS Lewis. I wasn’t sure who said it and should have checked. Yes.. the more I spend time in His word, the more secure I feel. Such a gift. Thanks for your always faithful support.
Gina Cooper says
A perfectly timed word from God to me! I continue to be ‘ghosted’ by both of my adult children. It hurts my heart to the core! And like you said, ‘I retreat into my own head to analyze and obsess.” My focus becomes them and not to my Lord. It’s a work in progress for me but I do know that the Holy Spirit is in this ‘fight’ with me.
Well said. The Holy Spirit fights with fire. Thanks for chiming in Gina.
Was this ever timely for me! Currently in a “ghosting” situation. Agree totally.
Thanks Kerry. You aren’t alone. Stay close to the fire.
I have been ghosted and it is painful and does conjure up all kinds of images and self talk and long term silence paired with fear. Your messages are always so helpful, encouraging and thought provoking. Thank you for your guidance, words of wisdom and encouragement. It helps in our own life’s journeys.
Im sorry for your hurt. You aren’t alone and you’re not crazy. Stay close to His fire. Thank you Cathy.
I love that God doesn’t ghost us he “Holy Ghosted” us Comforting to know He is always there.
His presence is indeed a constant comfort. Thanks Sandra, for your comment.
Berta Pitzer says
I LOVE that God doesn’t ghost us, He HOLY GHOSTS us!!! I love each scripture reference!! You’re right on the mark that we can “feel” ghosted by God when He’s quiet, but He’s always there, never leaves us, and Holy Spirit always reminds us of His Presence with us. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been ghosted over the years. Most of it comes from being a minister’s wife, but some do come from family. God has taught me much over the years of ghosting. The hardest lesson is to let Him guard my heart and not put up layers of teflon. He guards my heart best. My teflon layers would even block out His love for me! WRONG! So I let Him guard my heart and then it remains soft and forgiving. I needed the reminder.
Thank you Berta. Yes… when I choose a subject to write about, it’s because I NEED the reminder. Amen to His Presence.
Martha Nail says
Thank you Heavenly Father for the gift of the great Comforter of my soul.
Amen! Miss you, friend.
Thank you. I have been “Ghosted” at different times throughout the years as well. Until I read your post, I did not associate what had happened to this phenomenon. It is sad to realize that relationships begin and end with a computer rather than personal interaction. I will be careful that I do not “Ghost” people.
The part of your article that I was drawn to most was “arms crossed over my fragile heart”. During Lent this year some 5-Minute practices I have been suggested to practice using include examining and using my hands in various ways. One example: As I begin a short meditation, I extend my arms in front of me, my open hands are outstretched and offered to God, palms up. I offer my problem/care/self/concern to God. After meditating on this, I close by bringing my arms crossed over my heart as I visualize God holding this request for me. God wants to mend my fragile heart. Thank you Debbie for reminding me of other fragile hearts.
I love this. We get so hurried that we miss much of his tender loving care for us. Thank you for stewarding your time with Him, the Kingdom benefits!
Love all your posts however this was really good. The presence of the Holy Spirit helps me daily as ghosts will always exist however with HS and God by my side I can always get thru the day.
Indeed. Thanks for adding your two cents. Debbie
Thank you for your wisdom and the beauty of your writing. The Lord blessed me through your words today.. I have often heard you may let go of God’s hand, but he never lets go of yours. Your comment about His Holy Ghosting, is an updated version, I love it! God Bless You, Debbie.
Thank you Linda. I’m blessed to hear how the message helped you.
Liz Bass says
Debbie, I love the idea of being Holy Ghosted and I appreciate the Bible verses you’ve used. As is usual, you always seem to hit the nail on the head.
Thank you for this message.
Well thank you Liz Bass. It is a comforting thought to have His presence with us ALWAYS.
Nancy McConnell says
Hi Debbie…I do enjoy reading what you write. Always it is food for thought and most appreciated. I seldom respond but admire your positive outlook and particularly because I know of all the challenges you have had and have in your life. Thank you.
Well thanks for chiming in Nancy. Honestly, I feel incredibly blessed. Yes challenges, but He has been faithful.