So much of our lives, it seems, is on display on social media. I'm not the first to notice this, by far, but many of us search for the perfect picture or turn of phrase or clever meme to share on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or whatever other more hip and cool sites there are that I don't even know about yet. Like everyone else, I look at the patriotic fireworks pictures of people's cute kids dressed in red, white, and blue and am tempted to believe that everyone else's life is perfect (and color-coded), and mine is the only one that's not.
Somehow it seems that Christians are even more prone to "put a happy face on it" about their struggles. I'm not entirely sure why, though I have a few guesses. I think that sometimes it's a matter of over-balancing on the side of obeying the verses about not complaining (Philippians 2:14). However, complaining and being honest about struggles are not the same.
At a deeper level, I think it could be linked to wanting to give a good impression of Christianity, with the idea that if we want others to even consider learning more about Jesus, we need to be happy and cheerful and full of positivity at all moments. Sometimes we may be afraid that if we are transparent about our feelings and fears that it will cast a cloud over God Himself. I would challenge that idea with the Bible itself:
- Moses: "I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.
- “Why did I not die at birth,
- But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, 'It is enough; now, O , take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.' " (1 Kings 19: 4b)
- David: "
All four of these people were men who were commended for their faith, yet each of them battled discouragement and feeling distant from the Lord. God is so much bigger than my struggles and my doubt. My faith doesn't make me immune from feeling scared or hopeless or bleak, at least as long as I am here on Planet Earth. There are days when my faith is big and I see clearly how God has already worked in my life. Then there are days when I feel discouraged and frustrated and impatient and I don't trust that, no matter what, I will be okay. The beauty of my relationship with God is that He can handle those feelings. In my weakness, He is strong. Christianity doesn't rise or fall with my faith, but with the truth and redemption of Christ.
In light of this, I try to be honest and open (which is much easier for me in writing than in person) and to live a life that shows not just the triumphs, but the struggles. Regardless of our filtered Facebook posts, we are all struggling, or waiting, or hurting. We need each other to remind ourselves that we are not alone, and that (I believe) there is a God who cares about those struggles. Thank you to all of you who do that for me!