“Before social media, we didn’t think to keep a moment-by-moment breakdown of our days and to broadcast this to the world. Before social media, we would not have cared to read it. Yet today many of us update our Facebook status and Twitter streams with near-religious fervor, almost as if we have not actually experienced anything until we’ve told others about it … what we haven’t shared with the world seems like it has hardly been experienced at all” (pp. 70-71)
While I finish this book and continue evaluating my heart toward social media, I’ll leave you with that quote and a few questions to ponder with me. I’m asking myself: “Why am I on Twitter and Facebook? What am I sharing online? What are my motives for sharing it? Is social media an idol in my life? How do my posts glorify God? How can I use my presence online to further advance His Kingdom?”
Later this week, I’ll share some of my conclusions and my plans regarding social media in the upcoming year. In the meanwhile, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
As I stumbled into the elevator, I caught my reflection in the mirror and thought “damn, I look good“.
A rare, foreign moment of self acceptance and approval. I won’t tell you what I was wearing, in case you intend to kill my joy- but as I studied my appearance, I thought to myself “I like me. I’m cool, I’m casual, I’m collected… perhaps, maybe, I’ve got a chance to score the right job, the right friends, the right guy… all of which will like me too!” As the ding hinted that I was reaching my floor, I had one last thought “If I look this good and I’m out of shape, I need a haircut, I’m sick and I haven’t slept in twenty-four hours… I definitely look good when I’m at my best”. So I stepped off the lift, walked down the hall to my apartment and went to bed confident that I like myself.
Rereading what I just wrote… I find my words a bit conceited, and I wonder if they are also a bit delusional. 98% of the time, I don’t like myself quite that much. I don’t like how I look or the image I portray. For every night of self appreciation, there are two or three more where I lay my head on my pillow thinking that I’m not good enough. A glance at a mirror often progresses to “Eh, I’m not sure I like this. And I’m out of shape, and nothing I like is in style… no wonder I don’t have cool friends or a boyfriend or a successful career. If only I could do…. I might be a little closer to being likeable.”
It’s not a constant or controlling thought pattern - don’t be alarmed. It’s just that like much of the population, I struggle with body image and self image. It’s a fact about my personality that I have known for a long time. One that I am aware of and that I actively battle against. I know I’m not alone, but really… do people realize how many of us regularly stare in the mirror with disgust?
Here is a glimpse* at the facts:
Many people don’t like themselves. Many more think they are not good enough. This video is a small sample of statistics and it completely neglects other forms of negative self image. How many people are depressed because they feel like they aren’t good enough? Do I look presentable? Am I funny? Am I skilled enough to… ? I’ll never… will I? [Insert your question here.]
Last week in small group, we talked about the foundational tenets of the Christian faith. When asked what the most important rules of life were, Jesus answered:
”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”
The question is: how would people feel if we treated them like we treated ourselves?
Ponder that one for a bit. Then consider, if God created you… if he formed you and directs you and loves you, is a negative self image a form of pride?
Imagine the perfect you. What would would you change?
A professor once told me that the ultimate goal of a Christian is to be the you that Jesus would be if he had your strengths, your personality, your influence, your situation, your circumstances… your life.
Is that what you pictured? Or did you change the essence of who you are? To the image of magazines? To the definition of success? To a picture perfect persona found in media or movies? Do you think you could create a better you than God created?
I’ll admit that sometimes I do. I’d erase my scars, my life experiences, my asthma, my ability to detect people lying, the fact that I often cry in public places when I’m deeply moved by something. I’d want to be a little taller, a little fitter, a lot smarter, and hilariously funny. I’d give myself more musical ability, a capacity to learn foreign languages… do I need to go on?
I’m proud enough to think that God screwed up when he created me. And, that’s just wrong.
Allow me to interject a quick caveat, I am not saying that the desire to improve oneself cannot be godly. What I am questioning is why we have a desire to improve ourselves? Why do self help books become best sellers? Is it because we desire to be the best we can be so that we can fully contribute to the world? Or is it a desire to be the people we wish we could be in order to reach the world’s idea of perfection?
For example, I have a desire to get into better physical shape. Does my desire to do so stem from dissatisfaction with my body compared to socially constructed expectations of beauty? Or does it stem from a desire to be fully healthy so that I can serve God with all my strength? One is a prideful endeavor; the other is a godly one.
All this to say, I should like myself more. God loves me. He sees me as He created me to be, and I should value and appreciate his craftsmanship. Moreover, if I can’t see myself as God sees me, how can I see you as God sees you? How can I fully love you if I never learned to love myself?
*While this particular video doesn’t offer citations, it appears to be consistent with other research I’ve come across.
Another “reasons why” post… more accurately titled: “Why I am doing poorly in my classes and I don’t really care”.
That started with a lie. But let me explain.
Once upon a time, I cried every time I got a grade less than an A. I knew I was capable of more and I screwed up, so I’d bawl like a baby. I could do better, and I wanted to prove I could do better. My identity was being that smart kid who got As.. anything less and I started questioning who I was.
In college, I relaxed a bit. A simple explanation is that I realized that it was my own procrastination and learned laziness that led to A- or B+ grades. As long as I knew I could pull off a top mark, I didn’t need to actually do it. Even so, when a B made an appearance on my report card once or twice, I cried.
Every single tear though was shed because of my laziness not because of my lack of ability to do better. I always could, I just chose not to.
This semester, I am praying for B grades in my four classes. I recognize I may walk away with my first C grade. And, I’ll probably cry. This time is a little different though. This time I’ve done all that I could.
The last few months have been filled with illness and setbacks and drama. I couldn’t have put any more effort into classes if I wanted to… I couldn’t have turned those late assignments in on time… I couldn’t have spent a few more hours studying.
This semester, I did all that I could. And, I will come up short. But this time, I won’t have the satisfaction of knowing that I controlled my own fate. I know I could have gotten As in the course, but I couldn’t have gotten As within this semester.
And that my friends is why I’m going to have to be a little more indifferent about being mediocre. Why cry over something that I couldn’t have changed? I’m human. An average human that gets sick and sees setbacks and sometimes has a semester of bad grades.
I’m sure there will actually be a tear or two shed, but in the grand scheme of things, I know that I’m not defined by my achievements or my circumstances.