– “All that glitters is not gold” –
In a world that revolves around technology, it comes as no surprise that social media outlets like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have taken such a powerful hold upon us as people today. We have been handed open platforms that we can share our thoughts, feelings, and opinions on. We have the ability to stay up to date on current events and keep abreast of the latest trends and fashions. We are able to make connections with other individuals that we might otherwise have never formed connections with to begin with. While social media does offer us many positive commodities, I have become more mindful and aware of many of the not-so-positive aspects that come along with the use of social media.
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in all of the false realities that we scroll past on our social media newsfeeds. Pristine homes of grandeur, perfect figures with flawless complexions, and numerous selfies providing us with only small glimpses into seemingly quintessential lives, more often than not recruit us as the newest contestant on the “Comparison Game Show”. We so quickly make judgements and unfounded presumptions based upon a single photograph…one single photograph. “Her life seems so perfect. She has it all. I could never measure up to her. My life compared to hers is nothing short of a failure. She just had a baby and it looks like she just left a beauty parlor. Why can’t I be like her?” We’ve all done it, whether we like to admit to it or not, but the “Comparison Game Show” is a slippery slope. A slippery slope that if not quickly bridled, can leave us feeling lonely, depressed, jealous, anxious, and cumulatively unhappy with life. One of the hardest hit demographics on the “Comparison Game Show” is that of mothers.
Becoming a mother has been one of the greatest blessings that God has ever bestowed upon me. Truly, it’s all that I have ever wanted out of life. As a little girl I dreamed of being a wife and a mother. It’s where my heart was. It’s what I longed for and prayed for every night from the age of 7. Even at a young age (before the age of social media had even began) I was met with adversity because “I should want a career and more out of my life”. Even at a young age, I began to compare myself to other mothers. In retrospect, it seems almost cretinous that I, still being a child myself, had already begun noticing the tension and animosity that came with expressing my hopes, dreams, and desires. I began to ask myself, ” Am I wrong? Are my dreams not good enough? Will I ever be able to be enough?”
Fast forward to my life today… I am happily married to my husband of 14 years. We have been blessed with 6 beautiful children here on Earth (and 2 more in Heaven). I stay at home and homeschool our children while my husband works outside of the home to provide for our family. We are very involved in our church and enjoy our ministries of working with and teaching other children about God and His love for them. I love my life and couldn’t imagine it any other way! I’m so happy and my heart overflows with joy! God has truly given me the desires of my heart that I have prayed for since being that little girl filled with all of those hopes and dreams of marriage and motherhood, but I have all too easily been affected by the negative thoughts, views, and opinions of others about my life and the choices that I have made.
By comparing myself to others, I have at times made myself feel lonely. I’ve made myself feel depressed and sad, and in all honesty, I too have felt jealous at times while peering into the lives of others. There is an undefinable amount of pressure placed on women today. If you don’t have children, somebody somewhere has something negative to say about it. If you do have children, somebody will have something negative to say about it. If you breastfeed, if you formula feed, if you work outside the home, if you stay at home, if you choose traditional or alternative education choices for your children, entirely organic diets versus diets teeming with chicken nuggets and french fries, right down to the choice of diapers you put on your little ones’ bottoms… someone will ALWAYS hold a different opinion from your own (and some of them aren’t too shy to let you know about it). We mistakenly allow other’s thoughts and opinions to make us feel as though our own thoughts and opinions are “wrong” or that they are not held to the same level of esteem. WHY? WHY do we do that to ourselves?
There are underlying circumstances that we can’t always see from a cropped photograph that pops up on our timeline. Messy kitchens and bathrooms can be cropped out and edited, corrections can be photoshopped, and those magical little photo filters give our skin that perfect glow. We seem to forget that that “perfect” photo might have taken 50 tries to get that right angle of “perfection”. It’s time that we as women realize that our lives were never meant to be about COMPARISON. Our lives were meant to be about COMPASSION! Our love for others can impact the world! We allow the enemy to steal our joy every time that we compare ourselves to others and give life to the thoughts that we will never measure up to the imaginary standards that we have designed in our minds. Life is so much more than selfies, perfectly edited statuses, and cleverly thought out hash-tags.
Our words and actions hold so much power, and it’s up to us to decide how we want to use them. We have the ability and the opportunity to lift one another up and encourage one another as God’s Word instructs us to do (1 THESSALONIANS 5:11-13) or we can tear down, destroy, and destruct. Social media is permeated with keyboard warriors that seem to know every detail of our life and the way that we “should” be doing things. They are entitled to their thoughts and opinions, but we don’t have to become a slave to these. I know what God has called me to do. There is such freedom that comes from finding your identity in Christ as opposed to finding your identity in the thoughts and opinions of others. I am who God says that I am! I don’t have to be anything else! I know the calling that He has placed on my life, and I don’t have to offer explanations or excuses to anyone for it. Others won’t always agree with me, and that’s OKAY! They don’t have to! God has placed a different calling on their lives, and it is simply that…it’s THEIRS…not mine. When the harsh words flow and the unfriendly comments post, I can simply smile and move on.
Regardless of choices, thoughts, and opinions, we as mothers do hold some common ground. We are all just momma’s that love our children, and we are doing the very best that we can everyday. Let’s ENJOY the life that God has given US and ENCOURAGE others along their walks as well. Reality isn’t perfection. Reality is puke covered t-shirts, and baggy eyes from sleepless night. Reality is stretch marks and endless piles of laundry. Reality is filled with good, happy wonderful times, but it is also infused with pain, sorry, disappointment, and grief. I don’t want to feel like I need to crop out the mess. I don’t want to edit out the imperfections. Those messes and imperfections are reality…my reality. It’s real motherhood… real motherhood and all of the beautiful chaos that comes with it. Ask yourself today…Do you live a life that revolves around comparison, or are you leading a life that is fueled by compassion? Hang in there momma’s! You are making a difference in the world, one set of sticky fingerprints at a time… regardless of what anyone else may say.