Is this really your life?
This is how I feel about all of the gorgeous, carefully tousled, perfectly lit photos I come across on social media. On some level, I know that this aesthetically pleasing imperfection is, perhaps, achieved on the 10th (perfectly ring-lit) shot.
Another part of me feels like a sad, saggy, old disaster.
The other day, I came across a post from a nutrition blogger I follow. It showed a picture of the most beautiful refrigerator interior imaginable. Everything was clean and sparkly. Rows of carrot sticks and bell peppers snuggled next to perfectly stacked individual hummus cups. All of the (low-sugar) yogurt was stacked with its cute labels facing outward and lined up like little soldiers.
There were no frozen burritos. Nor was there a single grimy plastic bag filled with unidentifiable moldy mush anywhere.
“I thought you might like to see what my refrigerator looks like,” she said.
I didn’t even know refrigerator insecurity was a thing, and now I have it.
Pass the Coffee
Until Instagram, I didn’t even know I was supposed to sit in bed with a giant cup of coffee in the morning, hair and makeup perfect, while joyfully smiling at the camera. No one told me this.
I do sometimes drink coffee in bed, but my hair is standing up at weird angles, and I have a heating pad on my back. Any makeup on my face is left over from an improper washing the night before.
It isn’t the same. (And no, you may NOT have a picture of it. If one of my teenagers posts one, they are grounded.)
The weird thing is, their beautiful lives are so addictive. I keep coming back, subjecting myself to their glowy, tousled-haired happiness, and leaving feeling rotten about myself. Why do I feel the compulsion to do this?
The “Temple Influencers”
The drive to compare ourselves to others may have taken own a whole new life with social media, certainly isn’t anything new.
There were no Instagram models at the time of Christ. Instead, there were 12 collection boxes lining the Temple courts. These boxes were called shopharoth, named so after the long shofar-shaped tube on top of them. Worshippers dropped their offerings down the tube and into the collection box below.
When the gift landed in the box, it made a noise. The larger the gift, the louder the “bong!” Then, everyone turned toward the sound to see who the generous (wealthy) giver was.
It came to be known as “playing the trumpet” and it is how the “Temple influencers” showed everyone else how enviously superior they were.
Once, when Jesus was in the Temple courts with his friends, he called them over to draw their attention to something remarkable. A widow approached the shopharoth and dropped one small coin into the tube.
Down, down it fell into the bottom, so small it didn’t make a sound. Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth. This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything- all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44)
Repeat After Me
So here is what I am repeating to myself over and over- “God doesn’t care how glowy my skin is, or whether or not the interior of my refrigerator looks like a modern art exhibit.”
“He wants to know how well I love.”
God looks at my heart. He wants me to love my neighbor, family, friends, Instagram models and…
He wants me to love me too. A little less comparison, a little more self-kindness.
Go in peace, my friend. And rest in mercy.
Get the story!
Read “Playing the Trumpet- The Widow’s Mite,” in Arms Open Wide- A Call to Linger in the Savior’s Presence, (Thomas Nelson Publishers)