Social media has been a gift, in some ways, to our disconnected lives. Despite living hundreds or thousands of miles away from friends and family, with a few clicks, we can stay up to date on significant events in their lives. We can watch kids grow up, see highlights from sporting events, witness, milestone achievements, and so much more. When we finally have the opportunity to see them in person, we can sometimes just pick up where we left off, carrying on with knowledge of some of the things that have taken place since we last saw each other.
That’s probably the best part of social media. But there’s always a shadow side to things, isn’t there? It’s almost like one of Newton’s laws of physics, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To every positive there is an equal and opposite negative.
While some of us will put up whatever we want on our social media feeds, others of us feel that we can only put our best foot forward. Why show the not so clean part of our lives? Don’t we want people to think that we’ve got it all together? Don’t we want to make sure that everyone knows that we are measuring up?
I’ve lived enough of life to be kind of tired of trying to measure up. I know that I never will. There will always be someone out there who is nailing it, doing it better. But I also believe that grace is an important part of life. It’s how I am saved. It’s what I need extended to me every day. It’s what I need to extend to others every day.
I look around at my house and realize that I haven’t been keeping up with certain things. Weeds grow. The grass gets higher. The limbs on the trees get out of control. Then I look over at my three kids and I realize that as fast as those weeds, that grass, and those limbs grow, they’re growing faster. Am I spending time with them as they grow?
I’m not Super Dad. My children have a way of both subtly and not so subtly letting me know that. I fail too many times to name. I am selfish. I react. I don’t always adult well. Sometimes, an onlooker might wonder just who the kid and who the adult is in the relationship.
I’m not Super Husband. I’m not always as helpful as I should be. Sometimes, my needs outweigh the needs of everyone else in my mind. I don’t always think of my wife before myself. I fail.
But just because I fail sometimes doesn’t make me a failure. It’s what I make of the failures that determine just who I am. Are those failures a series of events that lead up to a greater success? Do I let those failures define me? Do those failures act as stepping stones from which I learn?
I’ve grown so tired of feeling like we need to perform for people that we don’t like. I’ve grown even more tired of the fact that we try to measure up to standards that were meant for somebody else. I’m not going to go as far as the cultural meme and say, “You be you,” but I think there’s something to it. Even in Jesus’ parable of the talents, not everyone was given the same amount of talents, but they were all judged based on what they did with what they had been given. We’re not supposed to examine ourselves on what we could have done had we been given someone else’s skillset. We’re not supposed to examine ourselves on “what ifs” either. We have to look at how well we are stewarding what we’ve been given. Are we using what we have been given to the best of our abilities?
If there is one place where people should be able to come and acknowledge these imperfections and shortcomings, it should be the Church. Not the building but the body. The Church was never meant to be a building, it was always a people, a movement, at least from how Jesus seems to have defined it.
At the same time, the Church should be the place where people also realize that what they are doing isn’t in their own power. When we can admit our shortcomings, it’s so much easier to accept help from others. When we can admit our failures, it seems simpler to stop trying to measure up.
Can we stop hiding? Can we create a space where we feel comfortable letting down our guard? Can we find people whom we trust?
I’d like to think that we can, but it won’t happen overnight. Every fire starts with a spark or a small flame. Who will you take off your mask for today? Will you stop hiding and encourage others to do the same?