Let’s pretend, for a moment, that it’s 5 o’clock on a weeknight and you have no idea what to do for dinner. If you’re like me, this describes you on any given night of the week. I absolutely love to cook, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I don’t do a good job of menu planning and all that entails. Lucky for me, there’s Pinterest. With a simple search, such as blackbean burgers, there are more recipes than I know what to do with.

And Pinterest is not just for recipes. What if I don’t know how to clean my tub without using bleach? There’s bound to be a board with safe and eco-friendly tips and tricks for bathroom cleaning.

This is the wonder of Pinterest.

With over 10 million registered users, Pinterest has quickly become a key go-to Web site for crafts, recipes, and life how-tos. The vast array of virtual pinboards makes it incredibly easy for the millions of users (and growing!) to search, organize, tag, and comment on select pins. And it’s not just the individual person who has an account; a large number of well-known companies are also jumping on the pinboard trend, using it for marketplace connections and free publicity.

I came across this Mashable article which got me thinking about my own use of Pinterest. I love it, but if I’m not careful, I can let myself become jealous of what I don’t have and ungrateful for what do have. I have spent time looking at “home how-to” boards only to feel defeated before I even start a project, thinking, “My house will never look like that.” And then I swear off all use, going weeks without looking at the site, fully convinced that I’m better off as a result. Better how, I am uncertain. (And somehow I always find myself back for another round.)

So often I place too much of a distinction between things that are sacred and things that are secular. I do Christian things, like read my Bible, pray, and go to church; sacred things. And then I do other things, like go to work, buy groceries, and go for a four-hour run on a Saturday morning; secular things. If I think within those two frames, Pinterest would most certainly fall in the secular frame.

And why is that? Maybe it’s because I often think that Pinterest is silly and that it cannot aid me in my Christian walk.

But what about the article I linked from Mashable? It sees something different. In that light, these boards don’t seem so silly. The UNICEF board in particular, Really Want These, only has six pins. Just six simple things that a fictional girl from Sierra Leone would want. Things that we often taken for granted, such as rice, water, and shoes. I have three pairs of shoes in my living room alone. And then there’s the board that was started after Hurricane Sandy, as a vehicle for families in need to receive help from strangers. What a simple, yet widely accessible, way to make the needs of others known.

It can be easy to pick on Pinterest for being a useless and trivial way to look for fashion tips, recipes, ways to organize your kitchen, and so on. But there is more to it than that. There are boards that can cultivate within us feelings of sympathy, thankfulness, compassion, and personal reflection. There’s a redeeming quality to the popular Pinterest craze when we think about it in this light. Instead of seeing Pinterest as a selfish way to spend some down time, I am reminded that even this vast virtual library of ideas can be an avenue for our own sanctification.