Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. Facebook. Pinterest.
Captions. Likes. Comments. Favorites. Pins. Retweets.
It wasn't until my freshman year of high school that I downloaded my first social media app. With spotty wifi, I downloaded Instagram and created my account. I hustled to take a few pictures (selfies) and posted them as soon as I could. The followers began to roll in and I was ecstatic. After posting my first picture, I watched the likes pile up and the comments praise how "cute" my picture was. I was pumped. It didn't take long for my self esteem to take a huge dive. I would take a cute picture with a cliche caption and to my dismay — it didn't get a ton of likes. Stupidly, I made the mistake of making my way to a friends page and thinking: "Why is she getting more likes than me?" Jealousy and sadness reared its ugly head.
Raise your hand if you have ever been there. Raise your hand if you have had social media play mind games with you — if a little app has ever made you feel small, insignificant and helpless. If social media has ever DEFINED you.
When we stop & think about it — its a little sad. That a little app called Instagram, Twitter or whatever, can make us feel small. That this little app (that could easily disappear any second) could make us feel all the emotions: sadness, jealousy, anger, bitterness, resentment and anxiety. Now, I'm not saying that I am a Social-Media-Grinch and that I hate it. On the contrary, I have had so many positive and wonderful interactions on social media and I am forever grateful. Butttt... somehow, social media has a way of making us forget who we are and what we are living for. In order to understand what I mean by that statement, we have to go back to the beginning. We have to go back to our beginning.
Where it all began...
The very moment that you were born into the world (screams and all), God was there. His presence was in and through the entire hospital room, bedroom or wherever you were born. After all, Psalm 139 reminds us that we are all "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God. When you were born into the world, He smiled. He was so happy .And why did God create you? Why did He "form you in your mother's womb"? (Psalm 139:13).
God, Your Father, in all His loving-kindness, created you for Him. He created you for His glory, His enjoyment and His purpose. He created you because He loved you immeasurably. When we understand and live out that concept, we will never have to question our identity again. We will never have to succumb to social media insecurity. We will be able to be confident in who we are and not let Instagram tell us otherwise. If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ and accepted Him as your Savior (Acts 4:12), your worth is found in who your Father is. When God looks at you, He sees someone who is washed clean, forgiven and loved. He sees what Jesus did for you on the cross (John 3:16), and calls you His son or daughter. There is peace that is available to you, knowing that God has already won the battle for your heart and your life. There is peace that you can have, knowing that nothing will ever change your status: you are a new creation; fully redeemed, fully loved and fully secure. You have the greatest significance and value of ALL — you are a princess of the Most High King. That is a "statistic" / "award" that is meant to be bragged about.
So what does this have to do with social media?
Good question. It's scary how easy it is to look at your follower count or likes and instantly compare yourself to a mega-blogger, celebrity or your friend from school or work.It's scary how easy it is to look at someone's clothes, gadgets, accomodations, etc and feel like your life is trash compared to theirs.It's scary how easy it is to spend hours on end trying to curate every photo, every caption, buy followers and the likes to boost our damaged egos.
Why do we do this? We do this because social media has blinded us — it has tricked us into thinking that they are God. It has tricked us into thinking that social media holds true satisfaction, contentment and purpose. Instead of running to God, our Way, Truth and Life, we scroll with our thumbs and wait for likes and follows to roll in to define us. Instead of confidence, we start to think that in order to be "popular" or "loved", we have to look like so-and-so. (SO not true.)Instead of setting our minds on God, we obsess over statistics, numbers and the comparison trap."Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." (Colossians 3:2)
It’s all about realigning our focus, our sights and our gaze. It's all about reminding ourselves of who we are. If we have received Jesus into our hearts and lives, our lives and our identities are secure in Jesus Christ. Social media will never be able to rip away your identity and your security in Him. There is no amount of likes or followers that will ever be able to compare to your identity in Jesus. They totally flop in comparison to your true identity in Jesus. So, dear friend, please don't let social media deny you of your true identity. Please do not let the numbers define who you are. Do not reduce yourself to a number — you are so much more than that. Instead, live in the reality that you are a child of the Most High King. As I close, I would like to close with a few practical tips on how to enjoy social media, but also not let it define who you are...
Take a break from social media for a few days or a few weeks! Sometimes the best way to recenter yourself on the Lord's promises is just getting rid of the app for awhile. Take a break, get fresh perspective and ask the Lord to remind you of your identity once you are back on socials.
Unfollow people who are making you feel "small." As author and podcaster, Stephanie May Wilson says, "Who makes you feel tall and who makes you feel small?" There may be people you follow that don't speak life, those people who only make you feel miserable and less-than. It's okay to take a step back and remove them from your social presence if it is doing more harm than good.
Remember that social media is a highlight reel. For the most part, social media is meant to elevate life and make it look better than it really is. Now, I say that lightly, because there are so many people who are genuine. But please do not think that life is exactly like what is posted on an Instagram story or feed.
Find the people that encourage, inspire and champion you. There are some AMAZING people that are on social media today. Amazing bloggers, business people, authors, influencers, family, friends etc that are a part of this media world. Find those life-giving people, those who motivate you to draw closer to Jesus and FOLLOW 'EM! Those are the people who are using social media for God's glory.
Remind yourself of your identity in Jesus by reading & praying Scripture over your life. Find core passages from the Bible that remind you of your identity and how much God loves you. Find the passages that tell you what your purpose in life is and how to live it. Pray and speak it over your life. God will totally change your perspective through it!
** If you're an avid podcast listener like me, check out Stephanie May Wilson's Podcast, "Girls Night Out" and listen to the episode: "How to Protect Your Heart from Social Media Comparison."** If you need a beautiful worship song to encourage you, listen to this. Love you all endlessly... 💗