There’s a lull in my day, so I reach for my phone. It’s funny, there’s lots of choices on this little screen. I could open up Pinterest and look at lovely things. I could crush some candy or swap emojis in a game. I could catch up with friends on Facebook, or send a snap. But, my finger hovers over Instagram and I know it’s where I’m going. It always is.
For the same reason we like looking through childhood photo albums of our spouse. For the same reason we can’t wait to see the first picture of a bride on her wedding day. Photos are snapshots of a life. Glimpses of moments that make lasting memories. Photos are ripe with emotion, they make us feel.
So Instagram is my happy app. When life is getting messy and stressy and I need a distraction, it’s my go to. Except, sometimes it makes things worse.
I love seeing Insta posts of my friends and their families. I love seeing their smiling faces experiencing life. Birthday parties, park adventures, hikes, family outings. It’s so wonderful to see. But then, there are posts from people I don’t know. Posts that are intended to inspire me or encourage me but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they make me sad.
My own Instagram account is a real depiction of my life. My actual life. I thought about that the other day, as I was scrolling through it. I looked back on old memories and smiled, and thought that if a person just started following me and really wanted to know me, Instagram is where it was at. I post about good things and bad things, happy things and sad things. But sometimes when I see everyone else’s happy, I temporarily get lost up in it and fall into that comparison snap trap. Because it’s quick and unexpected. And it steals something from me, as I scroll on through.
My friends are so beautiful and their kids are so happy. They can go on long family walks and spend all summer outside. You can’t.
Look at is person who got into University and they’re going to be this when they grow up. Your kids won’t make it.
They took their family to an amusement park. Their kids are living the life. Yours aren’t.
I don’t want to be in this snap trap, because it stings. It makes me feel bad. And also, it’s not true. Because even if someone really was scrolling through my Instagram and saying those things to me, they can’t see everything.
But God can.
He sees the hours I spend each week advocating for my kids at school. The e-mails, meetings, and phone calls that put out fires and others that ignite a purpose and a plan.
He sees the hours I spend doing housework, planning and cooking meals, doing laundry. Simple acts of service for my family, and the painful sacrifices I make regularly to make that happen.
He sees all that I do, and all that I am. He sees deep beyond my Instagram photos, into the very heart of things. And He fixes me and sets me free.
I can’t go for long walks with my family, but they don’t mind going without me for some guy time.
I don’t know what my kids will do or be when they grow up. Whatever they do, I just pray they follow God whole heartedly.
We don’t do amusement park, but my kids are mostly happy with the life they live.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like enough. Sometimes I feel like I’m choking on everything that is our life. Wondering how we’ll make it. Praying that we will survive. If I’m honest, our whole life feels like we’re in survival mode. Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever make it past that.
But then there is God. Holding us up in our struggles. Fighting through our battles. Lifting our heads. Leading us to hope in Him, to His words that give us courage to keep going.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:50
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15
And so we press on. We keep going, we keep surviving. But most importantly we keep holding on to His promises. To His words of hope.
Instagram doesn’t make me happy. It didn’t truly bring me joy. It’s just a place to scroll through for a minute or two to escape reality.
It just reminds me our lives aren’t glamorous. They’re pretty messy and intense. But in the midst of the mess there’s a giant God given dose of joy. Instagram photos can’t hold a candle to it. It’s not really something you can capture on film. But it’s real, and it’s beautiful.
I can truly say the joy of the Lord is my strength, and mean it. Because at the end of the day, He makes all the difference. It’s better than all the photos we could ever take.