A few months ago I observed a picture of a good friend of mine on FB where she was having a grand ol’ time with a specific group of people in her life. I thought to myself, “wow, life just seems so wonderful for her. She just seems to get along with these specific people so well”. And then I reflected on my own personal issues and how I had trouble relating to these same set of specific people in my own life, and wondered why I wasn’t as skilled as my friend in this area.
A few days later, I talked with this friend on the phone. And what she actually shared about those pictures shocked me. Evidently she recently had a major falling out with one of the people in the picture and was working on repairing that relationship. Nor was she proud of the way she acted.
I had a good laugh with her on this, as I shared my own troubles in this department, and we both talked about how deceiving pictures can be on social media. How the viewer can assume so much.
And then, a few days later this happened again with a different friend.
Totally different circumstance, but same result.
When I actually talked to this person privately, I found out that things were actually quite difficult for her in this moment. And we laughed, because I had experienced some of the same difficulties.
And then the roles were reversed last week. I met up with an amazing older woman from my church for coffee. She asked me to share my story, and for about 45 minutes I gave her many intimate details of my sufferings, my joys, and my walk with Christ. When I finished detailing my life, she stared at me wide-eyed and told me she was surprised. She had observed me from afar for a few years, and had assumed that I was so put-together, so carefree, that I had experienced little in the way of suffering. She literally told me she would have never guessed that I had experienced so many struggles in my life.
It’s always interesting to hear what kind of impressions people have about you. In some ways it was nice to hear that I appeared to be put-together (when so often I feel like i’m hanging on by a thread), but in other ways it made me realize that I want people to know how feeble, how sensitive, and how “in-the-trenches” I am with those in pain. Pain and brokenness are not foreign to me.
And so I guess I write this all to say a few things.
First, we truly never know what people are going through.
We must be kind and respectful, no matter what.
We must love, even when people annoy or hurt us, because we truly have no idea what is going on in their soul.
We must care.
We must ask, and share our stories.
And we must enter in, if that is what the other needs.
Second, social media can trick us into assuming that everyone else has it all together, and make us feel as though we are a failure. I don’t blame anyone one bit for sharing the positive things in their life. It’s so wonderful to celebrate those joys. It’s essentially what I do here on this blog.
And to be honest, I don’t think social media is always the right avenue to expose the hard things in our lives. If i’m hurting, i’m going to reach out to the real people in my real life, and probably not write a lot about it on the internet. I don’t ever want my blog to be a place where I share specifics on people who have hurt me or rant about the negative things happening to me. I just don’t always think that’s appropriate. Which I why, I suppose, for the most part, I post happy and uplifting pictures here on my blog. But please be aware that while this blog tends to be very positive and chipper, my life isn’t always such. And while I may not always post about the hard things, I do struggle, have days when anxiety flares, don’t have perfect relationships with everyone I know, nor manage to have it all together.
But that is why we must be so careful with social media. Pictures are only half the story. There is always so much more going on we do not see. If you find yourself comparing your hard bits of life, to other’s highlights, then I might challenge you to consider a break from social media:) Just a thought!!
I hope this is encouraging to you today. Each one of us has joys and pain, and we should never compare that to others. Instead, we should engage with one another and work to support each other in our current seasons. Meet up with your friends, ask them hard questions about their life, seek to pray for them intentionally, and just care. Write a card, bring a meal over to someone, sneak a gift into their room, send a text.
We all could use more caring and kindness and less comparing and assuming, right?
Please know I love to pray for you dear reader:) I am never too busy to pray, so send me an email:)