I haven’t blogged for a while. Years…to be exact. And today I find myself sitting at my lap top wondering why. It’s not that I stopped writing—as a matter of fact, I wrote three books during my blog sabbatical. Truthfully, someone once described blogging as tending a garden; you have to keep up with it or it becomes overrun with weeds. The past two years seemed to hold so many other obligations and opportunities, so… when life started to take a different turn, I let the garden go. Looking back, I probably should have at least maintained a small portion rather than letting the weeds overrun years of what I’d carefully planted. Now, as I pull the weeds and finally start to cultivate the soil I hope will be fertile with helpful words and content that challenges and engages, I remember why I quit.
There’s a world-wide trend that encourages posting about life rather than living it. My daughter and I were giggling about a mom who dressed her kids in beach gear and lined them up for social media pictures at the water’s edge. There they stood, looking perfect…sprayed in sunscreen but not allowed to frolic in the water until the unusually long photo shoot ended. Then…mama sat in her beach chair adding all the right fixin’s to her post while her kids continued to beg her to join them in the fun. She never did—but I’m sure her media post got lots of “likes.” What in the world is going on?
I found the more I watched other people live their lives the less I liked mine. I read countless blogs and You Tube offerings on everything from how to fill in an eyebrow to how to pray—and the more I listened it seemed the less I knew. What was happening to my confident “can do” self? I was drowning in the comparisonand “I don’t measure up pool.” Every time I saw an author post about writing I felt as though I wasn’t doing enough, and even pictures of families and groups of people “doing life together” sent me spinning. My transient life doesn’t always lend itself to lots of deep roots and I knew when I drooled over a picture of a group of people sitting around a campfire at a lake it was time to take a break.
Perhaps as a culture we need to take a step back and survey what looking at other people’s lives means to us. For those who can engage a plethora of social media posts/blogs/podcasts/and other virtual offerings with no flutter of emotion—you’re in good shape. But for those of us who have to monitor how it makes us feel—here’s some smart thinking:
· Nobody’s life is exactly how they portray it, even if they repeatedly tell you they’re being authentic and vulnerable. They get pimples, have headaches, run late, stand in their closet and hate every outfit they put on—even if it all looks so glamourous and effortless. Our biggest struggle as humans isn’t being loved, it’s knowing who we are. Scripture says “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:5) Knowing we were formed and set apart by God for a unique life that only we can live, loosens the grip of comparison. If I’m filled with thanks to God for who I am and whose I am—I don’t fret over who I’m not and what I’m not able to do.
· Everybody…and I mean everybody…deals with some type of desire to be liked, welcomed, chosen, invited in. We’re human and that’s a child-like quality that makes relationships so special. It gets warped when people exclude others because they want to keep their seat at the table or climb over and put someone down, so they feel important or superior to the one they’re stepping on. For years I tried to make it as a writer and never once did a successful writer offer a hand. Instead, it felt like they were holding on to their territory and didn’t want any new blood on their land. A few years ago, I promised God that anyone who was serious about writing would get my help. Period. When we’re busy helping other people succeed, God is busy helping us succeed.
· Here’s something that may sting, but we must hear it. If you have a broken or dangerous relationship with someone, for the love of sanity, don’t keep following and watching everything they’re doing. STOP! As a matter of fact, block YOURSELF from following them. If we saw our children playing with someone or something that might harm them or make them sad—we’d redirect them to something healthier. Let’s do that for ourselves too. Redirect to something healthier and watch how much better we feel.
· When our goal is contentment not comparison, our whole mood changes. I once heard that true contentment isn’t something we find in things, people or circumstances, it can only be discovered in our convictions. Author Rob Kuban says, “True Biblical contentment is a conviction that Christ’s power, purpose, and provision is sufficient for every circumstance.” Contentment is a word that’s gone MIA in a culture that seeks recognition, insatiable attention, and climbing social status. In a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a young man named Timothy he said, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.”The pursuit of pleasing God brings great gain—and another added benefit…contentment! When I remind myself that pleasing God is the joy of my life and I don’t have to compete with anyone else to do it, contentment settles in.
Perhaps the answer to the media question isn’t give it all up…but rather…be content in the midst of it. If we’re using them right—our media outlets will enhance our lives rather than harm them. I’m even feeling a bit excited to start blogging again. Maybe tending a garden and pulling up weeds isn’t so bad after all…