the ugly measuring stick

A couple of weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with one of my students. We were talking about social media and how we (too often) perceive images we see on social media to be ‘real life’. In reality, we are looking at a (usually) carefully crafted version of what that person wants us to see. We photograph the happy moments, and the moments where we look like rockstars, and then we crop those pictures and filter the heck out of them. It’s deceptive, and it’s powerful. And it brings out the ‘ugly measuring stick’.

I follow several fashion feeds on Instagram (because that’s what unfashionable people do). I’ll scroll by and see their “ootd” (outfit of the day, don’t worry-I had to Google that too). Their clothes look so cute, the hair is perfect, and they’ve used that dang-blasted filter that makes everything look so sharp and bright. Meanwhile, I’m in stretchy pants and old sports t-shirts from high school 97% of the time, and the rest of the time, I’m fumbling through my closet looking for clothes like they wear. I just don’t measure up.

I follow some creative and beautiful moms on Instagram. They’ve got feeds full of pictures of their kids in tulle dresses in meadows with flower crowns in their hair. Or pictures in their (WHITE) homes with their kids sitting on the kitchen counter dressed in boutique clothing helping them make gluten-free muffins. And my girl be all like:

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They look like they must be a better mom than I am. They look like they are always doing something creative and memorable with their kids. Meanwhile, I catch mine tackling each other while I’m folding laundry.

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(That picture didn’t make it on my Instagram feed. I’m just as guilty as everyone else – I just don’t have good photo editing skills like some do). I feel like I just don’t measure up.

Why do we do this? Why do we want people to think we have perfect children, stylish clothes, and beautiful homes? Why do we want people to think we are something more than we really are? WHY DO WE WANT PEOPLE TO THINK WE HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER?

When we carefully craft this image of ourselves we are unknowingly setting unrealistic expectations for others and telling lies to ourselves.  We’re making room for the ugly measuring stick that tells us we’ll never measure up, and we’ll never be enough.

Here’s my perspective on this: this is not Godly. For me, Satan uses social media to whisper lies into my mind. When we compare ourselves to others and then shame ourselves for not measuring up, we are telling God that His creations aren’t good enough. This is something I struggle with for real. I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I know that God made me exactly as He wanted me, flaws and all. But still, somehow, I manage to convince myself that I am still just not good enough. Have you ever been in this situation before – where you know what you are doing wrong (believing lies), yet you continue to do it?!

I don’t think social media is a bad thing, and I don’t think you shouldn’t post lovely pictures of your life. I think inspiration and encouragement is a wonderful thing. For me, I just have to learn how to process it, and use it only as inspiration and encouragement, and not a measuring stick telling me how bad I suck at everything I do.

This year, I want to me more conscious of this, from both ends. I want to share more real life, and less harmonious instances. I don’t want to portray something I’m not. I don’t have it together. In fact, many days, their are times when I am holding on for bedtime to recover, regroup, and crash. I don’t want to cause someone to feel less because I only choose to show myself at my best. Because that’s happened to me.

I also want to kick that ugly measuring stick to the curb this year. For me, that’s going to take a lot of prayer. More specifically, prayer to see myself how God sees me, and prayer for the ability to resist those ugly lies that Satan tries to whisper through social media.

It’s also going to require me to keep social media in check. For me, that’s Instagram (I rarely use anything else). I don’t know what that looks like for me right now. I enjoy social media as a way to shop, keep up with family and friends, and to share with others. But I’ve got to find a happy medium where I use it just as that, and not something that makes me feel inferior because I don’t have family pictures of my children frolicking in a meadow field, while my husband and I (wearing a ball gown and tux, of course) gaze lovingly into each others’ eyes. After all, we know how family pictures go for  us:

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Have a blessed Thursday 🙂