I had a friend over the summer who didn't have an instagram account. I was shocked. How can a college student in today's world not have instagram? How does she keep up with friends? She went on to explain that she easily falls into the trap of comparing to others' lives and trying to impress and keep up with the pressures to create a perfect life through pictures. It sparked something within me. What do I try to portray through my instagram? Who do I try to be through instagram?
We've been making jokes in our small group bible study that nobody has a bad day on instagram. It's kind of comical, until you really think about it and realize it's true. Nobody posts about mom calling with the bad news of a dear friend passing, or a friend crying out with heart wrenching pain. Nobody posts about feeling like they don't belong in a world too big to comprehend. Nobody posts about children being harmed in their very own homes. But those things happen.
I've also been thinking about how easy it is for our lives to look much different than reality through instagram. Whether we intend for this or not, our photos are not realistic. There is so much that proceeds a picture and so much that follows. Tears can be hidden with smiles. Emptiness can be filled with a frame of friends. Broken hearts can be filled with a night of good food and laughter. But we all know that is not the reality that surrounds us.
I want you to know, sweet friend, that this life of mine is not perfect. It is filled with tears. It is filled with imperfections. It is not the life you see from pictures on this blog or on my instagram account. Let me explain...
This picture was taken on Roy and my road trip from Wisconsin to Texas. What you see behind us is all my belongings crammed into Mr. Jeep. The expressions on our faces say we are overjoyed with excitement, I'm loving this move, and I can't wait to be in Texas. But what you don't see in this photo is that I cried just prior to taking this photo. And I cried after. What you don't see is my broken heart after saying goodbye to my family, my best friends, and the life I knew in the midwest. What you don't see are the butterflies in my stomach and the unbelief that moving day actually arrived. It was one of the most emotional road trips I've ever taken and I'd be honest in saying I'd like to never do that again.
The caption to this photo read, "Isn't it funny how we never really know where we're going in life. Suddenly buying markers on markers to fill a new fourth grade classroom. Never in my wildest dreams." What you see here is a cute classroom radiating with color and preparation to welcome my newest fourth grade class. I was hired at an elementary school just three days after arriving to the new place I call home. I walked in with confidence and asked for an interview on Monday. By Thursday I was signing and accepting an offer for something far greater than I ever imagined. What you don't see in this photo is my uncertainty, my doubts. Is this really what I am supposed to be doing? Are you positive I was the one you wanted to hire? What you don't see is my desire to be teaching at a different school in a different state; the one I was known at, the one I was comfortable with.
Yesterday we signed papers, wrote a check and said yes to our first apartment. I published this photo saying, "So excited to finally call someplace home!" While there is so much truth in that, this adult move we made also draws up so many fears. Are we sure we can afford this? How are we going to buy furniture? Will it be big enough? What you don't see in this photo are the anxieties about making Katy, Texas my permanent home away from family. What you don't see in this photo are the conversations about finances and furniture and the stress that ensues from not really knowing what we are doing.
What I want you to know is that life is not what it looks like here in Texas. I celebrate joys unending, yes. But I have also cried every Sunday since I moved, and some days in between. Please do not let instagram lead you to believe that your life is not enough or that someone has it better. We all feel the hurt. We all feel the pain. We just do a really good job at covering it up with pictures. May you live in freedom today knowing that your life does not have to meet the unreal expectations of instagram.