life is more than a highlight reel
Social media is a perfectly curated account of our lives, but it is far from the whole story. We only see what the person creating it wants us to see. It’s perfectly placed pieces of someone’s life. A constructed glimpse of who they are. Even in sharing their flaws and insecurities, it is only to the depth that they want you to know. Sometimes social media ends up being a better indication of who we want to be and not a reflection of who we actually are.
Am I saying to post videos of you crying, captioned with your darkest unconfessed sins to be real? No, I’m not. Am I saying to stay off social media because it’s inherently evil? Not really. We do need to see social media for what it is. Your best days, documented. Or your worst days, cleanly packaged into a nice little paragraph and picture. As you scroll through your feed, you begin to measure yourself by the standard of what you see in others.
I know that my heart and mind can get stuck in the overload of other people’s lives and I begin to lose sight of my own. Does everyone’s house look so clean all the time? Suddenly, I’m back to my reality. A floor covered in pumpkin seeds my toddler dumped everywhere. Was I not paying enough attention to him? Am I a bad mom? Woah. How did I get to thinking this from a picture of someone else’s living room? Our eyes see one thing and our heart jumps to unspoken conclusions.
We never seem to measure up.
Our comparisons and insecurities are not limited to social media. It’s so easy when going about our day to compare the depth of what we know of our hearts to the surface level moments of someone else. We make snap judgments about others while we think the lowest of ourselves. We see the smiling couple at church, but not the huge fight they got in on the drive there. We see the mom watching her kids sweetly play together, but not her thoughts replaying the harsh words she said to them the night before when she snapped. We see the woman laughing with her friends, but not the tears she cried before because she does not feel seen or truly known by anyone.
Comparison is something the apostle Paul was very familiar with. Paul planted many churches, and we get a glimpse of church life in Corinth in the letters he wrote to edify them when he was away. Some began talking about Paul in his absence, saying his letters carried great authority and strength but that he was weak. They, who Paul sarcastically calls “super-apostles” thought of themselves as great and sang their own praises. Paul had a long list of qualifiers in the ministry that he did. The “super-apostles” may have had charisma, but Paul encountered the risen Christ himself. His life was radically changed by Jesus—and that was all that mattered.
Paul writes, “Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:11-13, 17-18 ESV).
Paul could have said many things to justify himself, but instead, he chose to direct their hearts back to Christ. The moment we get caught up in measuring ourselves to the people around us, is the moment we lose sight of Jesus Himself.
So then, what about that inherent desire to compare ourselves to what we see in others, both in social media and in person? The opinion someone else has of us pales in comparison to the approval we have in Jesus when we live our lives reflecting Him.
Social media can be used to keep up to date with people you care about and to share with others what is most important to you; it can be a wonderful tool in the hands of a Christian. However, technology can never replace true community. Genuine community is being honest about the season you are in over a cup of coffee, and not found in captions and comments under an image.
We need people to see what is below the surface. Oftentimes, being transparent about not having it all together is what brings us together. Filling our lives with like-minded individuals begins to drown out the voices of the world asking if you’re good enough to live in it. To Jesus, you were worth it all! We cannot help falling, but we can help to pick one another back up when we do. Better yet, before we get back up, we should spend some time on our knees.
The next time you feel caught in a web of comparison, allow an encounter with Jesus to redefine where your sense of worth is coming from. He will fill all the parts of you that are not enough because He always is.