In the land of social media, it can be all but “social.” It unfortunately ends in comparison of some sort. So often that you may not even realize it. However, let’s realize that we are comparing our bodies, faces, hair, lives, feelings, and everything in between to a filtered picture that was so carefully posed. A picture is only the final product; the final product will not tell you the missing pieces, or even what is 5 feet to the left of the picture’s border. These captured moments are so misleading, as well as the messages the enemy would have us believe: You’re not happy like that, smart like that, pretty like that, you need those clothes, you don’t have friends like they do, you need a relationship like that (I bet at least someone came to mind with one of those thoughts)…the list goes on and on. And pretty soon you have compared your dullest moments to someone’s best filter. We filter out the moments we don’t want the world to see and we get to choose how the world sees us regardless of if it’s even true. The fashion industry knows this; that’s what Photoshop is for (listen, I love clothes and beauty but I have a point here). Whatever we want the world to believe about us is what we place in front of it to see. I have news for you: every person has struggles, every person has bad days, and every person fights constantly against their sinful nature. I’m NOT counting myself out. I am quite a fan of instagram, BUT when we let our thoughts get out of hand, we may become addicted to comparison, and starving any sense of contentment within us.
There are a lot of feelings that can sprout from comparison: jealousy, greed, discontent, and maybe even bitterness and sadness if it grows. Let’s be real, no one wants to expose their flaws… no one wants to post a bad picture for everyone to see, and no one wants to post imperfections. Take Adam and Eve for example (Genesis 3): they sinned in the garden and immediately they covered themselves up to hide their guilt and shame from God. I love this because it sounds so familiar… they chose to keep God out of it and cover themselves up to look perfect on the outside. They wanted to look okay even when things weren’t okay. If that doesn’t sound familiar, I don’t know what does. Whatever is exposed will long to be seen as perfection, but this is a distortion of our culture. The more we compare ourselves to these “perfect” images, the more we feel we need to measure up to. And guess what? The farther away we get from God’s likeness.
So how do we get to this place of contentment? Well, I’m glad you asked because I’ve had to learn this myself. We get vulnerable with God. He really loves to just talk to you and be real for a second. Adam and Eve’s story didn’t end there: God covered Adam and Eve with his own hands. He related to them with love and he restored their relationship with Him. I find that when I’m vulnerable with God, I’m really being honest with myself AND with God. And that is something that heals you anywhere you’re at.
Second, you have to know who God is. It’s not until we know who God is that we can see ourselves like He does and not as the world would have us see. You’re a product of His creation, His goodness, His likeness, and he chose you and set you apart for His glory. And there is such freedom in knowing that. When we take hold of who He is, mess-ups become less messy, and mistakes are covered in His grace.
The next thing we have to do is love like nothing else. Mark 12:31 says it perfectly: “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” If we are too busy comparing, we won’t have the energy to love. The problem with comparison is that the view of ourselves is always depending on the changing world around us. Our self-view is always shifting because our world is always shifting. When we compare, we either feel better or worse about ourselves all because we are comparing ourselves to a worldly standard. However when we compare ourselves to Christ (Ephesians 5:1), who NEVER changes and is always constant, our confidence is firm and we have the strength to show this aching world a taste of His love.
Lastly, we have to realize that 100% of ALL we need is found in Christ and not in any thing, circumstance, or person on this earth (John 4:14). God’s love is ENOUGH to supply our every need. This world is aching for approval, adoration, love, real/quality things, and not manufactured, filtered, cover-up “good.” It’s time we see through God’s lens and show the world what it is to live under his freedom. This doesn’t mean our days will become great 24/7. It does mean that God’s strength will be more than enough to carry us on our best and worst days. And I myself want a life that reflects that.
Let me be clear: being content does not equal being perfect. Being content with our lives right where we’re at means that we know our satisfaction is found in God and not other possessions or even other people, no matter how God-fearing they are. Discontent and comparison will affect where our eyes are focused and it distracts us from worshipping God. We will always go where our eyes are focused, and we will always try to become what we remain fixed on. God gives us exactly what we need at exactly the right time. And we have to trust that he does this! If God knew you’d be better off with anything added to your life, it would be added. God is enough and YOU are enough just as you are. So stop feeding the lies of comparison and jealousy, and start feeding contentment and love; the love that never fails, and never goes out of style (cue Style by Taylor Swift). Social media doesn’t have to dictate your self-esteem. This world aches for genuine things and they don’t know how to experience it until we show them.