There are many times that when I see a photo on Facebook marking a happy moment in someone’s life, I look with fascination and silently say a quick “Oh, cool” but underneath it all, without a doubt, I feel a small amount of jealousy. Jealous that they are having their happy (or peaceful or adventurous) moment and I am stuck at a desk, waiting for emails to show up in my inbox and trying to make sense of the stacks of papers in front of me. Jealous that I don’t have a smartphone to easily document and share the good events of my life. In that instance, there’s a part of me that wants to scream to the world, “Hey! I have happy moments, too!”
I never want to take away someone’s joy or peace. Each day, I am humbly reminded (like, right now) to rejoice in all things, even the good things happening to others. These good things are sweet gifts from our Creator, who is the best good thing. I don’t want to be jealous of other people’s blessings. But sometimes, I am. Therein lies an on-going struggle of comparison, but that’s for another post.
So, what do I do? I scroll down my newsfeed, “liking” pictures and statuses (statusi?) of people’s triumphs and successes, even if it’s getting their newborn baby to sleep for a stretch longer than 20 minutes. Or if they run a fast 5K race. Or if they graduated with their master's degree. I really am genuinely happy that friends are able to share these things, for such things should be celebrated.
A friend recently wrote a blog about unapologetically documenting the best moments:
Instagram has become a scrap book of sorts. It’s not where I post about my messy kitchen, or my dirty laundry. My community sees those things. My best friends hear me air my dirty laundry every time I plop down next to them at a coffee table or via a ranting text message in the middle of the day. I’ve never claimed to have a perfect life. My life is an open book of mess and mistakes. My days are full of things undone, the painful work of discipleship and parenting, the growing pains of a changing life, and the floors that desperately need to be vacuumed. I don’t photograph these things. I write about them and voice them in small groups around my living room, but my photos and poems online are my way of fighting the cynicism within. As the saying goes, I try to collect moments, not things. Memories, not exhaustion. Drops of honey and not barrels of gall.
Since I don’t own a smartphone, Instagramming is not an option for me. But I get what she is saying, I really do. Facebook isn’t the place for people to see the piles of dishes on the sink or the armchair right by my bed where clean laundry is begging to be folded. However, Facebook can be a place where I share about the good things of life. Andrea, an amazing writer with a beautiful soul, also writes:
Grace and the ability it gives me to see and be attentive to the world around me is a gift, for me and for others. For me, this is what I get to do when I post a beautiful moment or a few words that I love. I want to be a vessel that carries that sheer gratuity of grace.
I am deeply showered with grace. Every time I take a glance at my husband playing with our son, I am reminded of God’s grace. When I see myself in the mirror, trying to tame the unruly and frizzy parts of my hair (then giving up to just put it all in an effortless-but-not-really-effortless ponytail), I am reminded of God’s grace. He sees me and knows me, faults and all, but yet He still loves me. Sometimes, the thought of that shocks me into silence and awe. Sometimes, it brings me to tears as I drive my car to work. (Truth: this happened just the other day while listening to Pentatonix’s version of “Little Drummer Boy”.) I want to share the grace that has been extended to me.
Perhaps in the course of the last five years, I have become a cynic. I never set out to be one. And can I just whisper something else to you? (I think at times I’ve grown more harsh and judgmental.) These aren’t pretty qualities to have. So, the struggle is there but I am grateful that I have help - that the Lord helps me to fight the cynicism and to celebrate joy instead. That He helps me to still be myself, balancing being a pragmatist at heart and being a dreamer, craving adventure.
Living without a smartphone is a conscious choice my husband and I both made. I can tell you that neither one of us has ever owned a smartphone. That’s thirty-two years of life for me and thirty-eight years for him. We’ve been married for eight and a half years. When these phones became popular, we never saw the necessity of purchasing one. It’s not bad to own a smartphone, if you can afford it and especially if you use it for work. However, we took stock of our life and didn’t see the need for such a phone. We also couldn’t afford the expense.
Beyond that, we knew our weaknesses. Having a smartphone would be a stumbling block for us in different ways. So it boiled down to removing what would be a potential stumbling block. We still have our weaknesses and sin in other ways, but it has made sense to remove one more thing that can cause us to fall.
Because of the lack of such a phone (a perfectly good tool, I know), I don’t have the ability to quickly document a good moment. Sure, I have my new phone consisting of a qwerty keyboard and a very low pixel camera but it’s not the same thing (seeing as I’m also unwilling to spend the hard-earned phone minutes just to upload something on Facebook; pay-as-you-go phone-minutes user right here.) And you know, a lot of my good moments include my husband, someone who is a very private person and eschews social media except to promote his music business, and our son, who doesn’t have the wherewithal to give me permission to post his picture online. It seems my hands are tied. I don't want to be silent or secretive, because there's nothing to be secretive over but I also don't want to overshare. It's a balancing act to be vulnerable to others while being judicious with my actions online.
Sometimes I still want to shout to the world, “Hey! I have good moments! They’re fun and special like yours, too!” There are so many instances I want to document when our little family of three participates in a hybrid hide-and-go-seek-pillow-fight-pretend-laser-gun-war at home, laughing til our stomachs hurt. Times when I want to capture my husband’s sweet and practical gestures to his tired wife, via picture or words. Moments when I am running outside in the early morning and see a beautiful sunrise ahead of me, giving me enough pause to think to myself “God is so good” and reminding me that I am grateful for strong legs and muscles to log the requisite miles needed to prepare me for a half marathon race. Maybe here and there I’ll talk about these moments on Facebook, because I think they could be encouraging to someone else. But when I do, I want to do so with pure intentions and not have it be a way for me to show off. “Look what I have! Isn’t my life great?”
Today I pray that I stop comparing to the world around me and applaud heartily for my family and friends’ special moments - glimpses of grace and joy that they willingly and vulnerably share to the world around them. I pray against my own cynicism and harshness. I pray against what could be a judgmental heart. I pray that the Lord would speak to me, whether loudly or quietly, that in the light of His beautiful grace, nothing else matters.
Reality is, the situation I find myself in and one that I intentionally orchestrated leaves me to be present during these moments, good or bad, and to treasure in my heart especially the good. Memories of laughter and tears and teachable moments that I can hold in my heart. Things that I will share with my husband or my parents or with a good friend over a cup of coffee. That in sharing these good moments, face to face or over the phone, we are creating our own good moment right then and there.