How can people that look so OUTWARDLY AWESOME not be as awesome as they appear? I “know” that this is true but I am sucked in again and again by the image people portray on social media as the reality of who they are, how great their relationships are and how much fun or impact they are having.
I had a front row seat, along with hundreds of others into a relationship meltdown that played out on social media. People were shocked these folks did not have it together as much as they appeared to. The social media personas that gave them such notoriety was where people attacked them in anger, accusing them of misrepresenting themselves. In an honest moment, one wrote…” I did not mean to portray ourselves as perfect. I think of social media as a physical memory book with quotes from friends & photos of happy times. Not the full picture.” What social media portrays is NOT the whole truth.
Despite what social media has enabled..Life is not one grand photo op. As a mobile phone camera cannot capture the brilliance of a clear night sky in it’s star filled wonder, so our interactions with others on social media cannot be a measure of our actual quality of life. Life and relationship are meant to be deeply and personally experienced. As Henry Thoreau wrote…”I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear.”
So I’m trading in my Instagram life for a authentic life. Here is why, God deals with all of us how things are, not how we’d like them to be perceived by others.
I’ll share two embarrassing but true stories demonstrating how God deals with us how things are …while calling us into more. All my life, I’ve wanted to be larger than life. My thirst for grandness was fueled by brokenness in my life. When I got saved, I got a spiritual version on the same grand ambition. Instead of being a rock star, I wanted to be a super-preacher/celebrity.
So 8yrs ago, I had to go to India for my tech job and I secured a preaching slot while I was out there. I had started a non-profit ministry and I had “grand plans” for that ministry. I was developing my podcast, my YouTube channel, my blog and my website. In my mind, I was on my way to being the international super-preacher. I was ready for everyone to book me for a speaking engagements. But that was not God’s plans. God was about to teach me a lesson I would never forget during my sermon.
1st sermon was in English and Tamil. Between sermons, I went up to the audio booth and asked if they had a way to record the 2nd sermon and get me a copy. They said yes. As soon as they introduced me with expectations based on 1st sermon, I got up and God leaves me. I had grieved the Holy Spirit. I somehow got through the message but I was reeling. Here I was at a pinnacle of my one of dreams only to feel Gods distinct absence. Now what was i going to do? On plane ride back, a week later, I sensed God ask me ‘why did you record it?’ I laid out my grand plans for the website, booking requests, blogs, podcast, YouTube channels, etc. He let me know clearly, He was not in my plans and He would not be backing my personal aspiration of stardom wrapped in spiritual clothing. The IRS eventually removed my non-profit status for non-activity and I have not preached/taught in a public way since. Yet, it was one of the best lessons I ever learned. I never want to be in a position where I made a way for myself only to have God remove himself from me in the midst of executing my grand plan.
My 2nd story starts and ends in my car. I was listening to a sermon by Brian Brennt of Circuit Riders- crmovement.com on how rampant jealousy and criticism are within the Christian community. People can barely get up and share their God given gift due the the barrage of invisible daggers of jealousy and criticism thrown at them while they are sharing. I had a ‘thou art the man’ moment when I heard this teaching so much so I had to pull my car over. How could I have gone for years not even recognizing this constant sin in my life. I repented! God showed me the root of my jealousy & criticism was my lack of faith in God’s ways with me. I was like the disciple who said…’What about him Lord?” and he was like “What is that to you? You follow me.”. John 21:21-22. My jealousy and criticism are symptoms of my lack of personal faith in God and his ways with me. That alone has been one of the most liberating things that has happened in my life in many, many years. Now I can walk into anywhere, enjoy & participate in what God is doing/blessing without that nagging voice, ‘what about me?” or impugning ill motives to everyone. Man, am I less stressed now! If you struggle here…please listen to different podcast on revival culture from Brian Brennt of Ywam/circuit rider. http://www.crmovement.com/podcasts/
So today, I am very sensitive to promoting myself or making myself seem like something bigger than I really am. Don’t get me wrong, I continue to get tempted in this area and with social media it seems like “everyone is doing it”. I’ve found God does not emphasis the same things as the world. ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may life you up in due time’ -1Pet 5:6. He wants you to be his Man or Woman irrespective if the world views you as successful. Better to know that you know Gods personal love, belonging and community than to ascend the highest mountain alone. I’m living proof “those who walk in pride he is able to humble “- Daniel 4:37. The same God who humbles us has every intention to lift us back up in love, better and stronger than when we fell from the pedestals we built. If you want more to explore more on this topic, Id strongly recommend the personal story of Lon Solomon captured in the book Brokenness https://www.amazon.com/Brokenness-Lon-Solomon/dp/1881022900
My life might not always look pretty but by God’s grace it will be true. So Goodbye Instagram life, Hello reality.