Maddie has been studying different decades from the 1900's in history lately. There's nothing quite as humbling as helping your child study a part of history you remember because it's also known as "your childhood." She shared with me that her generation is apparently known as the "lost generation." Now, she couldn't exactly explain to me why, other than they never used cassette tapes (I mean, that was a highlight in the history of mankind...poor children of the digital age), but it has made me stop and think how different the world is now than when I was a kid....you know, a very, very short time ago.
Something that inundates our lives now that didn't exist in my childhood is social media. To be really honest, I only saw a computer in elementary school when it was computer lab day and we got to play The Oregon Trail. Now I feel like I spend half of my life in front of some such device, and it's not to pretend I'm headed West with my cholera-infected family. Our friend, the Internet, has changed our lives so dramatically! My recent trip to the beach wouldn't have been what it was without us Yelping everything in sight. (By the way, we scored some pretty awesome new restaurant recommendations thanks to Yelp...and lots of hours of entertainment.)
I digress. How we are perceived and how we perceive others is largely influenced by Facebook, blogs, Instagram, Pinterest...I would list more but I'm not cool enough to know the names of them all. I've actually never been on Instagram. How many of us do not spend lots of time either deciding what we'll post for the world to see of us and our families or judging others for the things they chose? Really, someone should start a PR firm that helps people make smarter social media choices. Wow, there are some doozies out there.
This online culture feeds our love of self. I'm embarrassed to say that I view much of my life through the "what kind of facebook status or blog post would this make?" lens. Don't judge. But I bet you already have. The crème de la crème of our self-absorbed culture is the Selfie, is it not? Oh my word, the Selfie. (Blogger has the nerve to underline that word in zig-zaggy red, as if it's not really a word.) Nothing brings out my judgmental side more than the Selfie.
I've fallen victim to the urge to take a Selfie just like everyone else. I mean, come on. When you're home with a sick kid on Easter, unable to go to church and show everybody how pretty you look that day, what other option do you have but to post a Selfie before the gentle curl falls out of your hair? But then when you go to take the Selfie and you realize that either the camera on your phone is defective or you don't look nearly as good as you thought you did, you end up trying all manner of lighting and angles and smiles to minimize the wrinkles and maximize the pretty...and before you know it, you've spent 23 minutes on Easter taking a picture of yourself for the world to see, which is exactly how Jesus imagined me spending that day when He conquered death once and for all, I'm sure. That and an Easter egg hunt where the eggs are dropped from a helicopter. Yes, I'm pretty sure that's what He and Mary Magdalene talked about in the garden that morning once she realized He had reconciled God and His children for all eternity. "You know, Jesus, I'm in the mood to hunt eggs...specifically eggs falling from the sky."
And then there's the newest Easter tradition on social media: the race to see who can post their kids' Easter pictures first. I had a distinct advantage since I had the perfect excuse to skip church and focus on the true meaning of Easter. Clearly, I used my time that morning wisely. I blame all of this on whoever decided that Easter required cute new outfits for the family, because who wants to spend all that time and money on new clothes and then not show them off on Instagram?
I do have a point. I think. Wait....oh, yes. As I reflect on how silly we all are (me included) and how misdirected our time seems to be and how obsessed we seem to be with the image of our lives that we portray to the world, I am quick to condemn. I am quick to label us all as self-absorbed fakes who need to get a life. However, today, as I contemplated how much I really want to be the person so many people think I am and how, even if I live to be 100, I'm not sure there's enough time left for the Lord to make me that person, I saw things differently. Every morning, I wake up and I'm stuck with me. The real me. The me who knows all the selfish, ugly things I think in my heart. The me who struggles with my flesh every minute of every day. The me who wants to be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, and a better follower of Christ, and I felt compassion on all of us.
I think, deep down, we all want to be who we portray ourselves to be on Facebook. We are all very well acquainted with our own shortcomings, and we are all very desperate for them to go away. All of us are aware how quickly envy, discontentment, depression, or anger can take hold of us, and we wish it weren't so. We wish we were more like so-and-so or even more like Christ, and yet the more we live, the more we see how far we have to go. In all of us, there is a longing for Eden. The way things were meant to be, before we let ourselves get in the way.
How much more would we resemble the person we want to be if we spent half the time we use perusing posts or posting more posts to connect with God and with others instead? It is so easy for me to use my phone as an escape...an escape from the laundry or from myself or from my fighting children, and miss the fact that God wants to use all of the circumstances and people and even my own shortcomings to shape me and mature me. He has blessings waiting for us and plans to transform us, but we are too busy planning our next cute quip or proud rant. It is easy to be wrapped up in who we want others to think we are rather than who God is making us to be.
Facebook might not have been around in those history books, way back in the 90's with my Duckheads, but there is nothing new under the sun. The desire for the approval of others and the need to be loved is nothing new, and the attempt to portray a better me than the real me has always been around. The longing to be made whole again has existed since that first bite of forbidden fruit. But there is only One whose love satisfies, whose approval matters, and who has the ability to restore. And, last time I checked, He wasn't on Facebook.
His words are written, timeless and relevant, able to transform and full of gracious love for me. It's time for my mind, my time, my escape to be directed toward Him who delights in making me the person I want to be. And when He does, I won't need the internet to advertise my transformation. I want real people to see the real difference the risen Jesus makes in lives. To Him, we are as we will be, His radiant bride, adorned for His enjoyment.