This year, as I look back, I see that I have learned more about my own tendency to comparison and discontentment than I have ever learned before. Strangely enough, I can credit the internet for assisting in that.
I love the friends I have met online. I really do. I often wonder why the other five ladies at Out of the Ordinary would want to blog with me when they are clearly my betters in all respects. I feel blessed that they would even consider doing such a thing.
I love the Facebook connections that I have made and the like-minded ladies and gents I have connected with. There is something really wonderful in the way that strangers become brothers and sisters through this medium.
But it can be the stuff of discontentment and uncertainty. Everyone else's life sounds so much better. Everyone else has perfect children. Everyone else has a beautifully decorated home. Sometimes, watching people interact with one another on things like Facebook and Twitter can make us feel excluded depending on the day and our current frame of mind. On those days when we're looking at ourselves through our own view and not taking into consideration our God, they can be difficult times. I have found out over thist past year that I am horribly ambitious in a way I don't like, and it is effort for me to remember that things aren't about me. I don't know as if I have a good understanding about the place for ambition in my life, so I just let it sit there and percolate and remind myself, "be quiet, don't talk, you don't need to say anything."
For people who fear being rejected (and I admit to having this fear, still, as I approach the fifty mark) social media, especially, can cause discontentment. For women who don't have employment outside the home (in a society which bases value on earning potential or ability to become famous) seeing what other women are doing can be a huge struggle. Oh, I'm supposed to be a CEO by the time I'm forty, have a few books published, grow my own food, homeschool, stay a size five, AND have enough gluten-free recipes to start my own cookbook?
We remind ourselves that our sufficiency is in Christ, and that godliness with contentment is great gain (I Tim 6:6), and then we proceed with the same vicious circle the next day.
I have seen myself in this struggle, and I don't like it. After all, I'm a grown woman who is supposed to know better. Maybe I sound melodramatic, but I think inside many women my age is a young girl who feels awkward, uncertain, and tentative. That is the stuff of discontentment.
The solution? No, I'm not going to recommend forsaking the internet and all social media, although if that is what it takes to help you out, do it. I am saying to monitor it. And I'm saying to realize that no one puts on Facebook or Twitter or their blogs their real lives. We share the good things. The online presence is not the real life situation. We all struggle, we all sin, and we all have days when we're not very nice people.
Over 2012, I've seen this in my life, and the lesson I have learned the most is that I need Christ so much more than I ever truly understood. I think I had some naive notion that as I got older and more mature, forsaking sin would be easier; as if it was a matter of maturity. It isn't. Sin simply visits in different venues. Every day is a step taken into a place we've never been before, and sin is still there, lying in wait to trip us up. We need the cleansing of Christ daily.
This morning, as I had my prayer time, I thought about those verses in Matthew 5:12:
forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors
Forgiveness, confession of sin; we need it. We need it daily. Of course, this is a no-brainer, but sometimes, it's one of those things that becomes rather rote; "yeah, yeah, Lord, forgive me because I really messed up today." It must be vigorously addressed, and consciously forsaken. And that means getting rid of things to tempt us.
Last weekend was a busy one and on Sunday afternoon, I'm afraid I rather conked out. I was not online as much and I felt so much better. It isn't the blogging; it's the social media outlets that pull me down. Being less attached was good for me. As with all things, balance is good. Hopefully, in 2013, I will be able to learn the lesson of contentment and balance more deeply.