Insta-joy?

 

I have developed a habit in the last few years of holding on to things. I don’t know if it’s because I’m having a hard time letting go, or if I’m just lazy. I have this desire to purge, but I’m totally unmotivated to do so. 

I’ve always hated clutter, but I look around and wonder when I started bringing the outdoors in. For instance, I have little collections of seashells around the house. I have rocks and pinecones; in the fall, I sometimes bring leaves in.

I’ve got lots of things meant for indoors too. Like books—I love books. But I’ve got books I’ll never read. I’ve got some I’ve read and probably won’t read again. Others I might read, and I have a few on the go. I also have drawers and a closet full of clothes. Half of them I don’t wear, but you never know when you might need that fifteen-year old, wool sweater (that you forget makes you crazy itchy).

I’ve got a few stacks of paper work I need to go through, and boxes; I keep boxes that I think will be great to wrap presents in someday. There’s just all this stuff. I’m not a fan of knickknacks, so that’s a plus, but here’s a question, What of this stuff do I really need? What of it is actually benefiting me? I’ve been thinking about that woman who wrote that book about de-cluttering. She says, ask yourself if it brings you joy and if not, get rid of it. I took a look, the book is called, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her big question: Does it spark joy? 

Now let’s be realistic, there are things in our lives that perhaps don’t spark joy, but we can’t just get rid of them. For example, you might hate that old sofa, but if you don’t have the cash for a new one, you continue to plunk your butt down on that one. When you are working hard through a tough patch in your marriage, joy may wane, but you don’t just walk away. And, you can probably relate to this: most of us have had a job we hated, but we hung in there until we found a new one. 

This question, “Does it bring you joy?” got me thinking about more than books and clothes and sofas. How about social media? Does that spark joy for you? After you spend time on Facebook or Instagram, do you feel encouraged? Inspired? Or just tired? Do you enjoy looking at pictures of your friend’s latest greatest adventure, or do you get caught up in the latest, not-so-great debate? I personally don’t find any joy in people’s rants about controversial subjects and who’s calling what politician an “idiot”.

There are so many positive things about social media – like checking out your friend’s vacation pictures and staying in touch with relatives – but then there’s the debates and name calling, rage and bullying. I’ve read about the rise of depression and anxiety in people’s lives due to these social media issues and this big one: the tendency to compare.

A recent piece my son Nathan posted to his blog, Generation of Broken Hearts, has stuck with me. It’s titled, “Instagram and Toxic Femininity.” Nathan writes:

“There is a lure on social media to present yourself as the person you wish you were. Hardly ever will someone publish their flaws, their struggles, their hurts. Often someone will take a hundred pictures of themselves, pick one, airbrush it, and present this flawless version of the self that is simply false. This is a vicious cycle. When someone sees this, they think, “if only I could be as pretty and as happy as her…”

This is my response to his post: There was enough comparing going on when I was growing up without social media. I can’t imagine being a young woman today, having to deal with this constant comparing … it’s like a curse. I admit, even at my age (50), I don’t post pictures on Facebook or Instagram that I don’t think are somewhat flattering (although I’m caring less and less).  To my horror, I recently learned that there are apps that make boobs and butts bigger, waists smaller, eyes brighter, complexions clearer and the list goes on. We already know that this curse of comparing has led to increased anxiety and depression, but these distorted, airbrushed images are just putting more and more pressure on women to be perfect, and of course there is no such thing. I think it just adds to the mental health issues our society is facing…

I think a lot of us do what we can to look our best – to a certain extent, so no judgments. I’ve used more make-up than ever lately trying to cover up my pre-menopausal acne. Most of us ‘more-mature’ women are on a quest to ward off the aging process. Taking care of roots and fine lines (and not so fine lines) and other things that define us as aging, is par for the course. I guess, at any age, there’s healthy enhancing and then there’s completely faking it.

But of course it’s not just about looks is it? It’s about prestige, it’s about success, amazing trips and accomplishments – not so much failures and mistakes. Most of us post the good stuff right? I do. But we all know full well that every one of us has major fails, bad hair days and cellulite, so how come we can still feel bad about ourselves and our “going-nowhere” lives after spending time on one or more of these sights? 

This trap has led me, over all these Facebook years to frequently ask myself, Who are you comparing yourself with? I see different qualities in people and accomplishments that I covet, I’ll admit it. But what I remind myself over and over again is this: Compare yourself to only one person—the person God created you to be. Considering He made me and has the best ideas and plans for my life, that’s where my focus should be, right? On Him and his purposes for me? And so, I ask Him, “Please help me to be the person You created me to be.” (And the best version of her)

This is us: Created in His image; constructed in love. Valued by Him regardless of accomplishments or a job well done. He’s not impressed with the latest item we checked off on our bucket list or how many followers we have on Instagram; in fact, he’s been following us since before conception. He delights in us no matter what. He designed us each to be unique—beautifully flawed—perfect in Jesus!

 

To all the young women (and men) out there, and those of us more established ones (who once in a while still struggle with self-worth), here are a few lyrics from Lauren Daigle’s massive hit song, You Say:

“You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing, You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short, When I don’t belong, You say that I am Yours

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me, In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity,

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet, You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory…”

 

So how the heck did we go from the subject of decluttering, to the pitfalls of comparing, to this glorious truth that we are God’s workmanship? (Some Bibles actually use the word “masterpiece”) I’m not really sure, but please allow me to suggest this: ask yourself what sparks joy in your life and what robs you of it, and then make the necessary adjustments.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 

 

Hey, welcome to my new website by the way! This is my first blog post here. A huge thank you to Andrea from InSync Creative who created the site and Warin Marie Photography for the great photos! I hope you will take a look around. I have been meaning to get a new website for a while now (a couple of years actually) – better late than never. It’s ready for my new book which is just in the editing stage… yay! So, that’s what I’ve been up to. How about you? I hope your summer is going well!

 

Many Blessings!

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