God has been working on me. I struggle where to begin and I guess that’s where the updates and filler would come in handy. But to get down to business, here’s what’s been on my heart lately.
I am a slave to idealism. And I allow my value to come from what others think of me and how I measure success based on what a 30-something Christian wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend should look like. I have my ideal weight hanging over my head. My ideal home pinned on Pinterest. My ideal marriage looming in my heart. And my crazy/messy/amazing children who do not fit into any category except awesomeness (but certainly, NOT ideal).
My struggle with comparing myself and finding worth through others has been a life-journey but it’s only been in the last year that I have had the power to name it. (Hello, my name is Becky and I’m a people-pleaser and I like people to like me!!!) However, the problem is that I thought once I called attention to it and owned it for myself that it would go away. But it hasn’t.
On Sunday, my pastor, Aaron, preached on Transformation. (Listen to it here.) I may not quote it perfectly but the message I received was that when we are truly transformed through Christ (if we are really different after believing the gospel) then we are dead to sin. We are no longer slaves to our old selves but slaves to God.
Man! It was like God was talking to me directly! I scribbled down in my notebook, “I am a slave to idealism but God has called me to lay down my “worldly success” and pick up my cross to follow him.” Before I go on, let me address “picking up your cross,” in case you’ve never heard that before. I had really never understood what that phrase meant but to me, I think it means, putting down your own desires, picking up all of your iniquities/sacrifices and walking with Jesus. It is not by ourselves that we are saved but by the grace he has freely given us. We can’t work ourselves into acceptance because he’s already accepted us! As a glorified overachiever, that is something I have to tell myself every day.
I also jotted down thoughts on how when we compare ourselves to the ideal, we are at war with ourselves. We cannot win if we are trying to achieve some state that isn’t real. And with that thought, I immediately said, “Becky, you need to pray about going off Facebook again.”
I went through all of the cons: leaving FB groups, prayer requests, updates on friends, etc. However, I am continually reminded how FREE I felt last year when I deactivated my account for Lent. I emailed pictures and funny stories to friends and family who asked and the power of the Like button was gone. There was no need to log on to see if people liked my photo. There was no browsing of other people’s pages, comparing my life to theirs. I was content. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Facebook. There are many advantages but for me, it comes with a cost while dealing with this battle.
Ok, so, back to God’s conversation with me… Here’s where it gets interesting. In Bible Study, we have this saying in my group that when we haven’t been able to get to a certain day in our study, we say that God may be saving that lesson for another day. Well, that day was today. I have been struggling since last week to finish Week 7, Day 2 of “Jesus, the One and Only” by Beth Moore and today, he spoke. I think the Spirit was just waiting for me to hear Aaron’s sermon on Sunday in order to put it all together.
In the lesson, Beth is talking about our treasures. She first quotes Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This is a popular verse about how whatever it is that we hold value to is what our actions/words/life will reveal. But then she asks us to look at verse 24. She says, “What does God appear to most value according to Luke 12:24?” The verse talks about how God loves the ravens and he provides for them and if he provides for them, then how much more does he value us. Did you catch that?? He values you. He values me. And not based on anything I have achieved. It was completely FREE! Ok stay with me now. Then, she goes on to say the following:
“Believing our great value to God frees us from hypocrisy… True disciples, those who follow Christ and lead others to do likewise, face great temptation to be hypocritical. Christ warned, ‘Be on your guard’ (v.1) In other words, if we are going to live free of hypocrisy, we must proactively guard against it. The bottom line of hypocrisy is the need for people to think more highly of us than we really are. Let’s face it. It’s easier to act than to clean up our act.”
BOOM! Read that bold print again. The purpose is for people to think more highly of us than we really are. WOW.
Okay, God, I get your message. I think most people would agree that we only portray our best self on Facebook. And while I try to be open, honest and real in person, my “online self” is full of cute pics of my kids, loving photos with my husband and funny/quirky stories about our day-to-day life. I don’t put pictures up of me getting frustrated with Jack or the pile of dishes sitting in my sink while I complete the next DIY project. I am excited to put the pic on Facebook and see who likes it! I LOVE AFFIRMATION!
That for me was the kicker. I get my affirmation from people. Even though I know that I am valued by God, I still go to people to receive good feelings about myself when there’s a whole book about how unconditionally loved I am!
And to take it a step further, even while I need take time away from Facebook in order to confront my own struggle with idealism, I also need to stop portraying falsehoods that could be hindering someone else. I don’t ever want to make someone feel less than because of something I post.
Beth ends on the idea that believing our great value to God frees us from the need for riches and from worry. It’s ingrained in our human nature to worry about things we have no control over. But being worry-free is completely accepting that we never had control to begin with and trust that God will take care of us. Because he values us. We are important to him.
I want to share two sentences that have been on my heart lately. (My mentor, Grammie, taught me to collect sentences.) First, No One is Perfect. Second, Everyone’s reality is hard. What you see on Facebook is not real. It is a picture. An illustration or snapshot of a moment. We do not see what happens after the camera is put away. The struggles, frustration or even happier moments that occur later in the day. And that’s okay. Privacy is a good thing.
When God is working on us, it’s not always in the way we would want it to be but we have to accept that sometimes healing comes from the path least expected and for me, that is laying down my desire for likes, comments and value from other people’s opinions. God values me. God values you.