My life's not perfect. (Shocker.)
Nobody's life is perfect. (Even more shocking?)
We all understand that, don't we?
Here's the thing: We mostly just post the good stuff on Facebook or Instagram or in our blogs, because it's nice to share a happiness with someone, share a smile, try to uplift, instruct, even make aware of something that you just found out that you think someone else might find interesting or helpful too.
I find it interesting that that's what God wants us to do - encourage, lift up, admonish even from time to time. Share prayer requests and answered prayers. It's not actually bragging or trying to show someone else up. (Of course, some folks do, but they're so obvious.) Your average friend is just like you, and really is just trying to share ... something. Maybe even trying to serve. But sometimes when we think too much about serving ourselves and comparing ourselves with some fancy of "perfection", we might start thinking that when someone "gets" something that we struggle with, that they're showing off.
But, see, don't ever compare yourself with scattered comments and the occasional photo on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media. Those are just passing smiles or lessons shared - not entire lives. Same goes for awesome authors and guest speakers and, ahem, even preachers and their wives. Whether they're bragging or just sharing, it's just a moment or a thought, after all. And you can't strive to be Nancy Leigh DeMoss or Max Lucado, for example, because, not only are they not perfect themselves, those people are already taken. You can't be them. You be you. Imperfections and all.
Once we get that sorted in our minds - and don't berate anyone for not putting all their laundry out on the internet so you can see that they're not perfect; you just gotta know that everybody's not perfect - then we can begin to look more clearly at a big picture of a world of people, of a big family perhaps, who all are different, carrying on with their own lives, many of whom are just reaching out to connect from time to time.
Admission: I used to have trouble with all the "my wonderful kid", "my wonderful husband," "my wonderful church," "my wonderful pet," etc. posts too - sometimes - until I started truly rejoicing with those who rejoice... and mourning with those who mourn. Putting my own jealousy aside for a moment and realizing that those star jump-roping kids might have trouble with a math or foreign language or getting along with each other; those cool husbands got that post because they only cleaned that kitchen or brought those flowers ONE TIME; that really cute dog regularly poops in the backyard and has to be cleaned up after ... Now this is NOT that I rejoice in others' sorrows, but that I KNOW that we "brag" about some things because the whole rest of life is just sort of average, like everyone else goes through. That is, full of troubles AND joys. There is a time to weep. There is also a time to rejoice with others.
I wish I could thank all the moms who post cute little pictures that make us smile, thank all the pet lovers whose little furry and scaly friends make them laugh, thank all those students who keep sharing that something new they learned even if I think I've learned it before. I want to thank all those folks who share simple prayer requests, because it shows a faith in the love and prayers of friends, and the knowledge that God hears our prayers and knows what we need before we even ask or go into detail, and a love and trust for the others who they have reached out to.
Here's another thing to think about: Some young men and women actually think that they have to look like supermodels because that's what media portrays. Now, most of us get it, that we don't have to look that, or else we'd all really look like those poor models. There's hope in that fact that we don't! We really do - most of us - know that nobody's perfect.
If only people would look at the snapshots of the lives of friends and mentors online in the same way - that we're not going to look like our idea of "perfection" on earth - and just get on with living in the great corner where we are with the great gifts we've got.
I've got a beautiful niece/cousin who needs to know that she is beautiful inside and out. Several friends who also suffer from time to time because they don't know this. People I barely know but read about and hear about who have stared so long and so hard at a fantastic unreality that they have confused that unreal place as a goal - but since it doesn't exist, they are thwarted and frustrated and depressed every day of their lives! Beauty, peace, love, hope, purity, JOY - they just are. You can't control them and make them appear at your bidding. Grasp that reality? We're just little people in a great big world after all. That shouldn't make us feel lost, but rather, as children, cared for. We don't have to have or do it all. We just don't have to.
So, does going online or watching TV make you feel "inferior"? Please remind yourself that those images are temporary, abbreviated, sometimes even airbrushed pictures of only a small part of life - but they are not the dirty, busy, troublesome, crazy and sometimes even scary life that is intricate and real and all around all of us. That life is dirty so we can clean up and find the pure and true. Busy so that we can know to strive for peace. Troublesome so that we can remember that we need each other; others need us as much as we need them, even if they don't "look" like they do! Life is crazy sometimes, emphasizing the fact that there is a sane and sober and mature standard to keep working toward. Maturity - that's what's out there. And sometimes, I think life is even scary, and unnerving, to remind us that we don't want to live in fear and anxiety, and so we'll keep on reaching and searching for the strength and goodness that goes beyond understanding because it's from beyond this place. Because there is Something More. Something Better. If this life truly were perfect, wouldn't you just want to stay here for ever? But there is a Place for us.
I could stop trying to encourage others to grow in their faith, or hope, or love, or joy or peace... because I'm not perfect, so why should they listen? And they might see that I'm not perfect and ridicule me and not listen anyway. All of us could do that. Just stop encouraging. Stop trying. Stop living. We're never going to be whatever our idea of perfect is anyway.
No. That's the problem. We aren't here to be some feeble human idea of perfect. We're here to live. To learn. To grow. To help others along the way. To walk together and talk together. To sing together, cry together, laugh together. How dare we look at one another and think, "well, they're not my idea of perfect, so I want nothing to do with them." Or to think of ourselves, "well, I'm not my idea of perfect, so I'm not worthy of anything." How haughty, really. How proud we are to think that we know so much. How dare we "put on airs," and compare ourselves with some imagined idea of perfection and decide that since no one is then we just don't have time for them, or even ourselves.
How about this: the next time someone posts about their honour student, instead of wondering if your kid could beat up their kid, why not be happy with them? Share some of their joy, since you can't seem to find any for yourself.
How about the next time you start thinking that someone else has a perfect life, you say a prayer for them, because there is something that you don't know about. Pray for the ones that belittle you, including yourself, that we'll all find the truth about things. Pray for the ones that are giving you advice, even if they aren't perfect themselves - because you know, they wouldn't give you advice, however clumsily they do it, however off the advice might seem, if they didn't care about you. Would you remember that?
How about instead of whining about the person that keeps whining, you mourn with them. Walk a mile in their moccasins. With them, or without their knowledge even. Mourn with them.
How about you remember that your life isn't perfect and neither is anyone else's. Don't be jealous of their supposed "greener pastures". Don't be envious and try to work out how to take what is theirs away from them. Just smile with them, and rejoice with them. Remember that they may have some obstacle in their life that you wouldn't be able to handle even if you were paid to do it.
Remember that Jesus, the Son of God Almighty, went through an awful lot because God Loves You, and doesn't desire that any should perish, but that all would come to eternal life.
How about you remember that this world just isn't your eternal home, nor anyone else's. It's not perfect, in any sense of the word.
Someday, our lives will be perfect, in the Creator's sense of the word perfect.
We all can understand that, can't we?
“But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”- 1 Corinthians 13:10-12.
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” - 1 John 3:2
- Philippians 3