Time for me to enter the confessional.
“Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I have envied.”
“Whom have you envied?”
“As penance, shut off your phone.”
I’m not Catholic, and I don’t go to confession, but if I did I would probably have that conversation every week. Because I envy you.
I hop onto social media, see all the #Blessed posts, and I want to be #Blessed. You in that infinity pool on vacation. You and your smiling kids at Disney World. You and all your friends celebrating the big 4-0. It seems like you have a perfect life.
Of course, I know you don’t. But social media allows us to present a tiny slice of ourselves, which is exactly what I do. I present a very well-managed image.
I only show you what I want you to see. The good times. The jokes and chuckles. The times when all my kids are dressed up and smiling and in good moods. I am in strict control of the image I project on social media.
I don’t post about the chaos that makes up 90% of my (and your) life. Like last night, when my middle daughter screamed for almost an hour simply because she had to take a bath with her sister. By the end, I was basically using police deescalation tactics to resolve the situation (“You don’t have to do this! There are people who love you!”).
Or this ridiculous back pain which was caused simply by me bending over (apparently I’m now 200 years old).
Or the conflicts Jen and I work through. Or my frustration that I’m not where I thought I’d be in life. Or my recent spiritually dry spell where Bible reading felt semi-torturous.
When it comes to social media, I let you in on approximately 1% of my life, and I imagine you do the same.
I know that what I see on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest and Twitter isn’t real, but it feels real. Right? It feels like everyone else has it better than me. Is happier. Is living their best life now and every day Friday (Every Day Friday would be a great name for an Every Day Sunday cover band).
So what’s the solution? Obviously, I could cancel all my social media accounts, which might help in some ways. But I also need to deal with the deep discontentment in my heart. That’s where the problem lies.
Honestly, there are times when I simply don’t like the life God has assigned to me.
I want your life. I mean, not really, but yeah kind of.
That’s sin. No doubt about it. It’s envy and jealousy. It’s straight up coveting. It’s me saying to God, “I think you could have done better and I think I deserve more.”
It’s a despicable lack of gratitude.
And it’s a failure to trust my loving Father who always knows best for me.
Psalm 16:5 is a gentle rebuke:
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
The Levites didn’t receive a land inheritance. They had the privilege of working in the temple in the presence of God, which was far better than getting a plot of land.
Psalm 84:11 phrases it this way:
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
The fact is, I don’t know what’s good for me, God does. I’m like Augustus Gloop in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, whose obsession with chocolate disqualifies him from the final prize (weird analogy, I know). If it were purely up to me, I’d ruin my life.
God knows what’s good for me, and if something is good he absolutely will give it to me. He doesn’t withhold a single good thing from his children.
Will I get off social media? Probably not. I find it valuable in some ways. But I am trying to monitor the ways I use it. I started a Facebook group purely devoted to people sharing things they’re enjoying (based on the idea of my podcast).
I spend more time on Twitter (which is less personal stuff) than Facebook. And I’m simply trying to put my phone down more.
Social media isn’t a bad thing. But when it makes me start envying your fake life, it’s turned into something destructive. And it just flat out makes me unhappy.
Using something that makes me unhappy is just stupid.