I want to be better than this post. (I want to be better than a lot of my posts:) But here we are, working our way through our adult lives, hopefully strengthening our bond to the one true rock that keeps us steady.
Here's what I experienced during my brief stint on Instagram. I want to first tell you that during these few weeks, I had taken a kick-butt webinar and done a ton of research on successful marketing on Instagram. I was beginning to map out what I felt like was a strong Insta game-plan. BUT, my gut. I just couldn't shake the contradiction that would be my heart-felt, God-given message to women, and what I would need to portray in order to be "successful". I tried to do as my husband said and stay true to myself and my message. But like all social media, are you going to post the cute photo, or the ugly photo? Are you going to try to rise to the top in your field, or just stay sub par? I sliced this every way in my mind and came up with what I thought was a good game plan. I would post quotes over beautiful abstract pictures, do some reposting and occasionally maybe a personal photo. Flowers, books, little hands and feet, mommies playing with children; those would be my go to.
But here's what I could not escape: Less conviction more hustle. Less time spent, more turnover. Less actual lessons that have been sown into the fabric of my life, and more heaving out into the world anything that struck me as relevant, or smart or useful, or could at least get a handful of likes. I could feel the way that Instagram would effect the lenses through which I saw spiritual revelations, connections to people, and (God forbid) my children playing at the park. Not now. Not for me.
Obviously this does not apply to everyone. Instagram is a good brand-building platform and is absolutely abuzz with people in their 20's and even 30's trying to make a name for themselves. I get it. But for me, right now, no. And I was going back and forth for a little while and I'm so glad it came clear to me on Sunday at church. Not now. Not for me.
Here are the feelings I was feeling. The feelings that I think so many of us are feeling using Instagram:
1. Jealousy. No other way to say it. Good old ugly jealousy. I can't believe this many women have these picture perfect homes, workspaces, style, kids, dream lives and jobs. So many women making us believe they are living their perfect, dream life. Are they? Are the kids really okay? Or is mom a secret maniac about capturing perfect-looking photos, and perfect-looking spaces- with her face buried in her phone for most of the day? Or is there a balance? I'm angry and I don't get it. Is this really happening? Should I be supporting this? I am very very confused about how I feel about all of this. But back to the jealousy of it all. Deep down, I want the glory for myself. I always wanted to be the IT girl. In small circles, and in small ways I have had a taste of it and it feels nice. It feels nice to sit above the other girls and play about the way you say things because they are hanging on your every word. Is this too honest? It's ugly, isn't it? It's me- wanting to be her, wanting to be THAT. Wanting to have more money to hire a cleaning lady, and travel, and pour into my own passion project. Jealousy.
2. Give up/Exhaustion. Instagram makes me feel exhausted, because when you see 10,000 other women doing what you want to do- why even bother? It makes you want to quit before you even start.
3. Anger/Disgust/Indignation. I'm not sure how much of this is "righteous indignation" and how much is personal indignation. Christian leaders, especially. Self-promotion and shameless flaunting. I just saw a post from a Christian author of her family at Disney. It was a beautiful picture of them all wearing mouse ears and matching shirts- very cutesy, but clearly an expensive set up. Part of the caption read something like: "Disney is one of our family's favorite hang out spots! Anyone else?" Um, yes, if we could afford it! And I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. We are hoping to be able to take a Disney trip (ONE, Disney trip) before our kids are all out of the house. Okay, and not that we should all feel guilty, or not post anything fun at the risk of making other people feel badly. BUT, am I the only one wondering about this new "norm" of Christian women leadership? Flaunting, showcasing, building yourself up. Talking about how you are living your dream life. This makes me SAD. Obviously, I am not about wanting people to "like" me (as I told you), or striving for an ideal image myself at time. But day in day out? No shame? What about ministering to women in their brokenness? What about REAL humility? Can this be done while building a beautiful Instagram? Clearly I've not figured all of this out yet.
But then there is this. My Pastor stood at the pulpit this past Sunday and read the words of Psalm 73, and they pierced right through all of this, and helped my heart to settle back into him. Please read this Psalm for yourself. I am going to paraphrase it here, in relation to my Instagram experience:
God is good to us who are pure in heart. My feet almost stumbled and slipped because I was envious of those I was seeing on Instagram. I was envious of these people living beautiful-looking lives, with strength and pride in themselves. They are finding real prosperity!
They are not in pain, they are skinny, they seem to have enough money, look healthy and they don't look downcast or in trouble like the people I know in real life. Therefore they are happy in their skin and with their lives and they flaunt it for everyone to see. They sit above us and laugh and clink champagne glasses with their friends, and we all start looking to THEM (not God) for who we want to be like. They don't really believe that God knows best or that he's even listening to and seeing all they are doing. And this is what wicked people get? Great wealth and an easy life? What!? Am I am idiot for having tried to stay pure all these years? For trying to live a Christian life and not flaunt my own wealth or successes? What have I been doing? What a waste! I should have at least been building some sort of credentials or plan for success. But I am home with my small children everyday, living this dreary life, playing maid to my family. And if I tried to do any differently I feel that I would be betraying the calling you have placed on my life. So why them and not me?
When I tried to figure all of this out, it seemed too confusing. Until I went into prayer and you showed me what eternity will look like for the wicked. Sometimes I forget that nobody really gets away with anything, and you ARE watching this all.
The wicked, deceiving people will have their time, be it here on earth, or when their life is finished. They will come to ruin and be destroyed in a moment. You see what is happening and they will have their run in with you. In the brief time that I was trying to be like them, I was turing away from you also. I was brutish and ignorant, and didn't want to look at you. I was angry at you because I thought for all this time you were trying to make me a loser.
Nevertheless, you gently took my heart and steered it back to you, and now I again am grasping your hand and walking by your side. And YOU will guide me here on Earth, and after I am finished here I will be with you there. What do I really have other than you? Everything on this earth is empty without you, and when my heart stops beating, you will still be with me. I am yours and you are mine forever.
For behold, those who are far away from you will perish. You will do away with all of this evil. But for me, it is good to be near God. I have made him my safety and will spend myself in this life telling people about his great works.