I love social media. I enjoy the way I can feel in some way connected to high- school friends I haven’t seen in decades. I love to see the joyful things that are happening in my friends lives like engagements, weddings, new jobs, moves across the country, babies, new puppies….you name it, I love it! I’m a secret cheerleader for so many of my friends…my real life friends and my social media friends.
There are so many positive things that I experience especially when I need a little pick me up. I laugh at stupid cat videos, enjoy the scriptures and sermons people share, I love fun videos that show people’s talents and interests, and all kinds of fascinating things that help me to learn more about my friends and the world. If I’m honest sometimes I scroll so much my fingers hurt and I’ve dropped my phone straight on my face more than once when it’s late and my electronics are keeping me up when I should be sleeping. Can you relate?
On the flip-side, I’ve also found myself comparing my own life and happiness to others. In my most emotional moments after a break-up, during a long period of unemployment, while I’m still waiting for a prayer to be answered, and even sometimes when I’ve had a busy week and didn’t make plans for a Friday night and find myself home alone…again…..it’s in these moments I’ve found myself scrolling….scrolling and crying. As happy as I truly always am for my friends happiness, it’s painful to see others living parts of life I wish I had. Have you been there? Comparison…..it’s a harsh spirit that can take over if we let it.
I love the way Galatians 6:4-5 reads in the message on the subject of comparison:
Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with our own life.
I often have people comment on my Instagram when I run into them and haven’t seen them in a while. They mention how happy I look, how I’m all over the place enjoying my life, my single life, they are always genuinely happy for me. And honestly, for the most part I’m happy. But, my Instagram is just my highlight reel people! Do you know how many pictures I take to get that perfect selfie? Well, I’m actually pretty good at taking selfies…lol, but still sometimes it’s 3 or 4 pictures, sometimes it’s 10 or more and if there isn’t good light I’m using a filter or an app to fix my wrinkles, or pimples, whatever imperfections. I’m taking the picture from above to avoid the double chin. I’m searching for the perfect angle so I can have the most flattering shot. It’s not totally real, ya know? I think we really do know, but we forget.
I ran into a friend recently after I’d had a particularly draining day and they mentioned how happy I looked on Instagram. I said, “Yeah, I’m Instagram happy” Knowing that though I’m generally happy they have no idea what actually goes on in my life. People see what we choose to share with them. It’s like we’re writing the movie of our own lives with no outtakes. Honestly, outtakes are some of the funniest (and probably the most embarrassing) parts of our story, but not everyone gets to see it. It’s for a select trusted few.
We aren’t posting pictures of ourselves crying or how crazy we look before coffee. We aren’t talking about how poorly we sometimes manage our money and wonder how we will make it to the next paycheck and still faithfully tithe and feed ourselves. We don’t always discuss weight loss and exercise (unless we are doing it well) we aren’t talking when we feel deep loneliness, heartbreak, or unanswered prayers. It’s ok…it’s nice to be encouraged and see the highlight reel, just remember that there is another side. Protect your heart.
Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
Keep your heart with all diligence, for our of it spring the issues of life
Proverbs 4:23 NKJV
Protect your heart not only from what you read and see on social media and from the comparison game (or unhealthy judgment), but also know that the deep pains of your heart should probably be saved for your close trusted friends out of the harsh eye of the public. Aka, don’t air your dirty laundry on-line. It’s not gonna bless you. Let’s just say….the best advice is not going to come from the comment section. Not everyone in your comment section is for you, but Jesus is. Talk to your friends who know Him and know you. Be sure to talk to them off-line.
In a world of “reality TV” ha! And airbrushed photo shopped pictures make sure you know what’s REAL life and not just someone else’s highlight REEL you are wishing was your life. Love who you are. Know that you’re not alone when you’re hurting. You are beautiful and you aren’t perfect cuz ain’t nobody perfect but Jesus and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Now, give yourself a hug, take a deep breath and keep on steppin’!