I sat in the Houston airport terminal waiting to board my final flight to Orlando for my long-awaited and belated birthday trip to see my bestie, Lauren (a.k.a. Lolly). Lolly gave me the best birthday present ever...her new baby boy Colton - he was my ultimate birthday present because God let him enter our world and share my birthday. I waited with baited breath for my next flight.
I pulled out my phone, like everyone else, trying to avoid the awkward airport conversation, "Where are you headed? Where are you from? What do you do? Nice to meet you...blah blah blah..."
I pulled up my social media sites so I could feel "connected" and entertained. Facebook. Twitter, Instagram. They are the equivalent of my crack. I inhaled and breathed out with elation as each site showed me glimpses into the lives of people I barely know.
This woman posted a photo of the flowers her husband brought her. (How nice.)
That person told about her child's school accomplishment - reading at a third grade level when only in first grade. (Wow. Your kid is a little genius. Yay for you.)
Another woman described the breakfast her husband brought her while she lay in bed waking up. (Breakfast in bed? Are you freaking kidding me?)
I was relieved when I boarded the plane and the flight attendant told passengers it was time to shut off all portable devices. The phone went "off" and I breathed a sigh of disappointment. Somehow all these good things going on in everyone else's life made me feel...bad. My life was sub-par, not measuring up to the high standard of everyone else's lives on FB, Twitter and Instagram. I thought to myself, "Brad hasn't brought me flowers in six months. Is our marriage in trouble? And Emery isn't even reading yet! She'll never catch up to that kid reading at a third grade level. I need to hire Emery a reading tutor. I know she's only 2, but pulease, if we lived in China she'd already be blogging."
My thoughts went on and on until I realized how ridiculous I sounded. Even in my own mind I could hear the absolute silliness of this little game I call "My life sucks because I'm comparing myself to everyone else."
It was an "Aha" moment in my life. A moment when I had new insight and clarity. It occurred to me that the moments we post on our social media accounts are merely "The Highlight Reels" of our lives. We are posting the best-of-the-best moments of each day or week or month that we choose to share. We aren't posting a photo of the unmade couch that our husband slept on because of the fight we had. We're posting the picture of the flowers he brought us the day after the fight. We're leaving the information about the fight out altogether. It makes us sound like we're living in a rom-com (for my Mom & Sister who do not speak in abbreviations, that's short for: Romance-Comedy). The truth is, we're all just living.
If you don't want the Highlight Reel to get you down, maybe these three steps will help you. This is what God spoke to me in my "aha" moment:
1. Recognize it for what it is...it's a Highlight Reel.
Before I log on to FB, Twitter, or Instagram, I've got to put on the mindset that I'm about to look at the highlight moments of the lives of everyday, normal people; people just like me.
2. Stop Comparing!
The "My life sucks" game is a comparison game. And there's no win in comparison. Comparison divides. Comparison whispers, "She got flowers because she's a better wife. Her kid is testing higher because she's a better mom. He brought her breakfast in bed because she works harder." All of those lies add up to the biggest lie of all: I'm not enough. I need to be better, stronger, faster, smarter, thinner, prettier, godlier.
Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."
Comparison causes us to look over our shoulder and envy what "she" has. In the end, it robs us of our true selves, the life God has called me to live. She and I have different purposes in God's plan but I can waste away my purpose. The Bible says I can rot away that purpose through my pity party of looking at her with envy and believing I couldn't be of value because I'm not her.
James 3:16 tells us the end result of envy,
"Where you have envy and selfish ambition, you will find disorder..."
"Disorder" means no peace. The end result of our comparison game is that we rot away in a life with no peace. Ummm, no thank you.
3. Celebrate Other People's Highlight Moments
Hit "Like" on that women's photo of the flowers her husband gave her. Leave her a comment that says, "So glad he knows how blessed he is to have YOU! You're special & you deserve flowers everyday!"
The quick way to get over our envy is to celebrate other people's happy moments. If envy and selfish ambition bring no peace, then is it possible that love, kindness and good will could bring peace to your life? It's worth a shot.
Okay, so I couldn't leave this at just 3 simple steps. I think we need a challenge. I'm calling step 4 a "faith" step because it will require faith to see this through.
4. Be Vulnerable
Vulnerability isn't easy. Where comparison divides, vulnerability unites. Vulnerability says, "me too." Vulnerability leaves a FB post that says, "I'm looking for a 7th grade math tutor, a wish and a prayer. If you could send one or all three I'd be indebted to you for all eternity." All Moms and Dads with kids struggling in academics will laugh, "like" your post and they'll extend every resource they have to help that parent. Because they understand where you're at. As they click "Like" they're really saying, "Me too."
Vulnerability is why I write this blog. I can't keep up a facade that life is perfect or pretty or easy. That's too much work for such a dirty lie.
You don't have to air out your family's dirty laundry, please don't. But it is okay to let down your pretenses and be your true self. It's okay to admit that you don't have a perfect marriage or perfect kids or the perfect career.
It's okay to be YOU because God made YOU for a specific purpose - and we'll never figure out that purpose when we're comparing, envying and being insecure.
Enjoy the highlight reel this week! Follow my misbehaved life on these three social media sites:
Facebook: Jessica Johnson Phillips
PS - keep going!