I posted this last night on Facebook...”Let me get deep for a minute…someone on my Instagram said something similar: People sometimes take ages posing for the perfect selfie…It’s not an accurate depiction of how they look from every angle. Likewise, what you see of someone else’s life is only one angle.
It’s easy to envy because you can’t see from the back or the side.
You’re single, they’re engaged – you don’t know their relationship issues. They have a great job, you can’t seem to get a foot up – you don’t know that they’re lonely and cry at night. They’re pretty, you might not be as conventionally good looking – they might be racked with poor self esteem.
Trust what God has for you. Trust the process. Trust that everything is not always as it seems. Don’t trust Facebook lives. Be happy for others, be content with what you have.”
I didn’t post it as a type of agony aunt to the masses type thing. Actually, it was more of a reminder to myself.
You see, I had spent a substantial part of the hour or so before I wrote that status wallowing in a rather large, depressing vat of my own self-pity. Inside the vat was a large glass of mango juice and a packet of salted peanuts to aid me in quest for pessimism and discontentment. There were also a few tears. And a couple of “it’s not fair and I’m not talking to you..” moans to God.
Life isn’t always a bed of roses. Sometimes, it can feel like a series of very unfortunate events, while everyone else’s life appears to be a series of extremely pleasant coincidences.
Fear, worry and anxiety are generally rooted in things that haven’t happened yet. It’s true, there are things that happen to us that are awful, that stretch and pull at us until we feel like we’ve reached our limitations and won’t ever be able to bounce back, but often a lot of our anxiety is rooted in what hasn’t happened yet. Either things that we want to happen but we’re scared won’t happen, or things that we don’t want to happen and are scared will happen. The truth is that a lot of the things we fear will happen probably won’t. A lot of the things that we fear won’t happen probably will. And even if things do or don’t happen, we often get through them a lot better than we thought we would.
It doesn’t help that a lot of our fears are informed by ideas about what we ‘should’ be doing, or what ‘should’ be happening to us, based on the people around us. One of the curses of social media is that we can easily access snapshots of peoples lives. Instead of seeing these snapshots as exactly what they are – snapshots, we often subconsciously choose to see them as live movie reel of someone’s life.
I’ll be honest – there are things I’m scared won’t happen. I’m scared I’ll never figure out an exact career path. People around me seem to be settled and convinced about what they want to do, and I still don’t know whether I want to be a GP, a surgeon or neither. I’m scared that I’m not using my skills enough, that I’ll look back in 10 years and not have achieved the things I want to. I’m scared I won’t ever get married and have a family but everyone around me seems to be getting married at the moment. I’m scared that I won’t ever become the type of person I want to become – that all the character flaws I’m trying to overcome will just stick with me forever.
There are things I’m scared will happen. I’m scared that my loved ones will get ill. I’m scared that I’ll lose people that are important to me. I’m scared that I’ll make a wrong decision about something important and ruin my life. I’m scared that I’ll say something incredibly stupid at the wrong time to the wrong person and get myself in a whole heap of trouble I can’t get out of.
I’m sure you have your own set of fears, and I’m sure some of my fears might seem a bit silly to you…I would probably agree with you, and there are a couple of simple solutions I use to try and let go of my fears and practice being content:
I sometimes have to remind myself of the truth, even speak it out loud to myself… No, so and so’s life is not perfect because no one’s life is, despite her Instagram page being perfect. Yes, you haven’t figured out your entire life yet, but you’re only 25, that’s an unrealistic expectation. No, you are not an unattractive person – you have enough friends and people that care about you to know that that’s not the case. Nope, God doesn’t only care about perfect people, so quit running away from Him. Truth challenges the false ideas we often have about our present situation.
2) Counting the good things.
Occasionally when I’m feeling absolutely rotten, I take out my hands and stick them in front of me just like we did when we were kids, and count things I’m grateful for. If it’s a really bad day, I start with the basic things – I’m alive, I have food, I have clothes. I always run out of fingers. I always realise that I have far more to be grateful for that I realise.
Personally, I believe that no matter how many bad things happen in one day, and no matter how rubbish my life may appear, God can use these situations for my good. The good might be a stronger character. The good might be a lesson that can translate into a new career path. The good might be a better relationship than the one I left. The good might even be the ability to offer comfort to someone else going throughout same thing in the future.
So Facebook friends, Instagram buddies, and Twitter comrades – don’t look at my life and think it’s perfect, and don’t look at anyone else’s life and think it is either. And when you’re tempted to compare and be despondent, remember, count the good things, have some faith and add a big dollop of the truth.
What are some of your fears? What are some of the ways you try to stay content?