From the outside looking in, the lives of more than a few people you can think of may seem a bit too good to be true. Be honest, you've thought it. I mean, just spend five minutes on Pinterest and you'll start to hyperventilate a little inside at the sickening amount of beauty, talent and creativity that apparently belongs to millions of other women in the world….except for you.
The picture we paint of our lives to the outside world is an issue I've pondered lately.
Specifically since I had someone say these words to me recently, "All the happy pictures of perfect lives everyone posts on Facebook and Instagram, it's all just one big lie. None of it is real."
I knew exactly what she meant, but I also know this was an unfair assumption.
Brokenness and pain can make us cynical, but it doesn't cancel out the beauty…that is unless we allow it.
Of course, immediately my mind went straight to my own social media feeds, taking inventory of my own profiles filled to the brim with happy pictures (mostly of my kids) capturing tiny moments of goodness throughout ordinary days. Honestly, part of me wanted to rush to my computer and delete it all.
Because if she wasn't already referring to me, I surely am guilty of the same.
But was the good all one big lie? Am I really lying to the entire world?
But then, faster than I could let myself get bogged down in the sting of her words and before I could even stop myself, out came the words: "I guess I just thought it was given that there is NO SUCH THING as a perfect life."
And honestly, while my life IS good in more ways than I can count, would people really want me to post all the painful details of the other side of life? You know, the side that can't be perfected with an Instagram filter, or cropped to highlight only my best features.
There is a healthy place and time for raw honesty, yes indeed.
Like last Monday when I sat across from a dear friend and cried through our entire coffee date as honest words flowed from my heart.
Or when I admit to my husband that I've spent every single day of the last month struggling with anxiety and on the verge of depression.
Or when those who live with me see me struggle to get out of bed most mornings because of head pain, fatigue and daily headaches that won't leave.
But even still, through the dark days of tears, loneliness and unexplainable pain, I am sure of one thing….
The story of my life as whole is filled with ridiculous amounts of beauty and good.
Even on the worst days, I pick up my pen and make permanent record of the good. Because the good keeps the broken from becoming bigger than the beauty.
Just because life isn't perfect, doesn't mean we shouldn't make a big deal out of the moments that are.
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are nice, but life can't be captured or contained within the confines of a social media site. Oh no, life is bigger than that.
We all have trials and demons we battle that no one else sees and knows.
When our marriage is falling apart, and our kids have gone off the deep end, when our bodies are wracked with pain and we aren't sure how we are going to pay next month's mortgage...
When the upcoming holidays threaten to put a magnifying glass over our own lack, serving as little more than a reminder that everyone's lives are good and full….except for ours -
Don't fall for it.
What you see is only half the story.
But both sides of life are stories that deserve to be told. The beautiful and the broken.
Humanity spends it's entire lifetime running from pain, all the while never understanding that it is the pain, the hard, the brokenness of life that makes even the tiniest moments of beauty and good worth living for, worth capturing.
Our lives are really all the same. No one's life is truly more beautiful and good than another's.
You see, life is really just about perspective.
Life is a level playing field.
So when we believe that somehow we got the bad of the deal in life, it is because we lack vision. When we cannot see all of the unique beauty that IS our lives, it has happened,
We have allowed the brokenness of life to become bigger than the beauty.
That alone is the tragedy.
Those who lead good lives have the same struggles, challenges and tools as everyone else. But one thing is different, they see the small moments of perfection that others miss.
Someone actually dared me to take this week leading up to Thanksgiving to list 7 reasons why life is shitty - to make everyone else feel better I guess. And though I chuckled at bit at the thought, because surely I could make such a list…as could we all - I chose not to.
Because sharing our struggles with someone close is one thing, but what good would it do me or the rest of the world to get on Facebook and make daily record of the pain?
Pain is inevitable, but when we dwell there, it quickly overwhelms the beauty and we can't see it anymore. And I don't want to miss 80% beauty because of 20% pain.
And so, after reflecting on it a bit, I've decided I'm keeping my Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Because my only other options other than "naming the good" are to start listing all the reasons my life is shitty or just shut down the whole damn thing.
Because as painful as life is sometimes, I just can't keep myself from pulling out my camera to capture the beautiful, or put down my pen to keep from making permanent record of the good.
What we focus on grows.
I choose the beauty over the pain.
Eucharisteo: Thanksgiving, rooted in deep joy and grace.
Rachel Rowell @ saltedgrace.com
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