If you’re reading this right now, odds are you clicked on a link from Twitter or Facebook. Some of you may be use to seeing me post and share Before the Cross on Facebook and typically, thats how you find yourself here. If thats you, you may have noticed and wondered why I am no longer present in the world of Facebook (I’m most likely giving my presence on Facebook way too much credit here.). Or maybe you weren’t but maybe you are now. Maybe you got here some other way and are just curious as to why someone would care enough to remove themselves from such a vehicle of virtual community and connectedness. Well I can sum it all up in one word: Babies. I deactivated my Facebook because of babies. Hear me out, I promise I’m not crazy… so here goes nothing.
A few weeks ago, I sat at a recent ladies retreat with pen in hand and my heart open and ready for God to breathe life and truth in. I knew I had been walking in a desert. Something was off with me, my heart was cold and my emotions were all over the place. It was definitely a bathtub season. Jen Wilkin, a precious god-fearing woman absolutely in love with God’s Word, spent the weekend drawing comparisons between the creation story and us, as believers and new creations in Christ. To illustrate one of her points, the power and dominion we have over sin in Christ, she painted a picture of a typical progression into discontentment and dissatisfaction. Sin appeals directly to our desires, we see it, we want it, and before we know it, we find ourselves in the clutch of sin. Looking back, she knew where I was, and she was about to tell me how I had gotten there. She set up the following illustration. Imagine getting home at the end of a long day, sitting down to relax, and flipping through a Pottery Barn catalog that had arrived in the mail. Sitting down, you are thankful for your home, completely proud of the space you’ve created and kept. It’s a reflection of you. It’s home. By the end of the catalog, your home is a dump, an absolute wasteland. There are things missing, decor to buy and remodeling projects to complete. How can you even exist for another minute in it?
This was and is exactly my issue with Facebook. She had put to words the sentiments I had wrestled with for weeks and I knew the culprit. Things are going great, life is good and my heart is content, until I begin the long scroll down my news feed. An old friend just got married and her wedding pics are up, that girl I was constantly in competition with in college is pregnant, a high school acquaintance is looking better than ever. Suddenly my life is sub par. I’m behind. My photos aren’t glamorous enough and my life is less than impressive.
And here is where the babies come in. So. Many. Babies. Hear me now, all you baby posters. Be proud and continue to post, for the sake of those aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins and long distance friends. They need these pics, these precious stories of your little ones. Me? As much as I love them (and many of you that know me know that that couldn’t be more true), my heart is weary. And here is where I get vulnerable: They make me wish it was me and wonder why it’s not. I spiral downward into bitterness. They harbor distrust in God and fear of the uncertainty that is life. But it’s not you, it’s me. And I mean that with everything inside of me.
Not only is discontentment birthed, it doesn’t end there. Social self-preservation kicks in. What do I need to do, what pictures do I need to take or status to post, to impress the world? To convince my “friends” that my life is on track, that I’ve lost those ten pounds and I’m living it up in the Big D. Don’t we all do it, aren’t we all guilty? We are in control here. We control what the world sees and knows about us. And we can embellish and erase. We can put forth the good and leave the bad and ugly behind closed doors. Aren’t we to blame for the discontentment we set each other up for? We disillusion others into believing their alone in their mess and we have it all together. My sweet friend and mentor read in a recent post that the reality is, we are nothing but left to compare everyone else’s highlight reel to our behind the scenes. We set each other up to fail.
You know what’s worse? Rarely do I even think twice about any of it. It’s second nature. That is scary.
Is this the community God intended? Is our pride and thirst for control, our desire for self-exaltation in the minds of others, is that what God intended?
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steven Furtick
Truth is, I think we are beating ourselves into the ground. We are exhausted, trying to keep up. So I decided it’s just too much. I got to thinking, what would it look like, to redeem the time I spend willingly walking down a road paved with jealously and ending in discontentment? To live in authentic community with the people around me instead? Friends who will call to see whats going on in my life, they don’t need a Facebook status a day.
I can tell you, after about two weeks of being clean, I haven’t missed a beat. The only thing I’m missing is the teeter tottering of my emotions and the instability of my contentedness. I gladly leave those behind. I am not saying this is the answer for everyone. But I would challenge you to really pay attention to your heart as you engage in social media. Be firmly rooted in Christ and may your posting be an overflow of that. Learn to be content in all circumstances. Take some time off, see if a correlation exists between sin and social media. It may not, but freedom from sin and temptation is worth it if it does.