Social Media and the Jealous Heart6
This post is not directed towards you. It's about my heart. My motivations. My jealousy. My discontent comparisons. Gratefully, I know others struggle, too. And so here I go wading into waters others have covered better than I. Yet I pray my journey touches something similar in your own.
The power of social media to tempt me to discouragement as a wife and mom is sometimes overwhelming; so much so that sometimes I wonder why I even use it. I log on to Facebook and it’s not just my friends statuses and pictures that I’m bombarded with…it’s articles and ads that claim to have the 5 steps to being a better homemaker and wife, a better mom to sons, or a new and better way to discipline them. As I am inundated with these images, if I’m not careful, I begin the comparison game.
Look, there’s my single friend posting a selfie of her working out in the middle of the day. Man, if I didn’t have kids I would be able to do that.
Wow. She’s really skinny, and her baby is only 6 months old. If only my body responded to post-birth like that!
Oh, look. So-and-so just had Starbucks for the third time this week.
Gosh, I wish Eric sent me flowers every once in a while “just because”. He doesn’t do that anymore.
Man, I wish I made as much money as that person apparently does doing their MLM. Another cruise. Yay.
And then self-righteous judgment sets in.
Stop posting workout selfies! OMG, do you post a selfie EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU WORKOUT?
Why do you keep showing off your baby body? Put some clothes on, for crying out loud.
I mean, how much money can someone spend at Starbucks!?? Go buy a book instead.
Wow, your husband is just SO WONDERFUL. Way to make everyone else feel jealous.
Seriously, you want me to believe that joining your MLM will make me money all the time? I guess Eric should start posting about the raises he gets at work and take a picture of his paycheck, telling everyone to come work with him...
Admitting something like this is humbling and risky, yet I know I share these thoughts and feelings with others. Not being alone in my sinful attitudes doesn’t make them any less wrong, but I admit it, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I’m not saying #fitmom or #tbt or #myhusbandisthebest or #crunchymom or any other hashtag we use should be banned. I know ladies who have worked really hard to get the job or body or organic food and if I had your body or money perhaps I would post about it on Facebook, too. I’m also not saying we should get off of Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.
And I'm not really trying to join the bandwagon that goes in the opposite direction and glories in the fact that my life is messy and hard and "authentic" (as if being in great shape, working hard and keeping your house and children clean somehow makes you fake). The fact is, the image of a beautiful mess is usually just as crafted as the image having it all together. The reality is, it’s not the fault of my friends for posting things that fire up my tempations. In fact, the only solution to my problem is to evaluate what filter I use when evaluating social media (see yesterday's post on music for this same type of question.) Do I filter what I see through a secular worldview that calls me to compare myself to others and judge them based on my own idea of what is good and right? Or do I evaluate what I see through a biblical worldview that interprets everything through the lens of Scripture?
It’s one thing to ask these grand questions, but another thing completely to actually answer and respond to the answers.
What does it say about my heart that thinking that if I didn’t have kids I could be free to use my time however I want? “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3). Sometimes all it takes is looking at my adorable boys and the thought of them not being here runs hurtling from my mind. And sometimes, when they are screaming and fighting and disobeying I have to remind myself that they truly are a blessing. A heritage and reward is strong language which reminds me that, in reality, the privilege it is to be their mother is far greater than the selfishness I seek.
What about the heart issues related to body image? “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). I don’t know the heart motivations of a person that posts a picture of them not fully clothed. In fact, maybe it’s in the right place. What I do know is that my heart is not in the right place as I compare or judge. The Lord is not as concerned with appearance as He is with the heart. (He IS concerned with appearance, but only insofar as it reflects the heart. But I’ve already tackled that subject here.)
What does it say about my inordinate desire to have more money for things like Starbucks or books, or my judgment that someone spends too much money on those things? Now, the Bible has a lot to say about money, but the verse that particularly seems to fit this one is, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). The more I have, the more I want. I wouldn’t be satisfied with just one Starbucks a month. I would continue to want more and more…and never be satisfied. It would turn into something else; wanting Starbucks everyday, a pedicure every month, a haircut every six weeks like the stylists say, and oh, I have to have a cute new outfit every month too…and then, I’m in a cycle that I can’t get out of.
What does it say about my heart when I wish my husband was more thoughtful or romantic, more attentive, or more...fill in the blank? “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast.” Everyone is a better husband online. My desire for my husband to be like someone else’s is dangerous ground. Envy leads to all sorts of evil desires, and the fact of the matter is where my husband is lacking in one area, he far outshines in others. And so does your husband.
As you can see, the practice of applying Scripture to all of life really is the answer to my struggles. As you and I change the lens of our worldview filter and no longer see what we wish we could be, we will see what we ARE and be reminded of how wonderful it is to just be a child of the living God. A child of the One of who takes all our shame and clothes us in perfection. A child of the One of doesn’t view us based on what the scale in our bathroom says, but on the scale that has been tipped in our favor and has “Grace, mercy and justice” on the weighted end, and “sin, shame and sickness” on the other.
The answer isn’t necessarily to get off Facebook and Instagram or to skip any post with #fitfamily or #starbucks in the status line. Perhaps the answer is to change the way we view social media to begin with. And (shocker) ask what Jesus thinks about it. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t care how much money we make, except to care about how we use it. I’m fairly confident He doesn’t care that I don’t work out everyday, except to care for the temple the Spirit lives in. Friends, before we log back in to social media, let’s open our Bibles and see what God has to say both about about what we post and how we respond to what others post.
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