But things have changed since my miracle shot almost two decades ago. One no longer needs to be physically present to witness the shining moments of others. We now are able to share them digitally with the world, and share them we do.
Every day we face an endless barrage of people’s best moments. We see them on Twitter and Facebook. We see them in the carefully curated moments of Instagram. We see them on awards shows and bestseller lists. They are everywhere and they are relentless, each one reminding us of all of the ways in which we don’t add up.
And when we are in a dark place (something I know a thing or two about), it can be hard to bear.
What we sometimes fail to recognize is that much of what we see online is the carefully cropped and edited version of life that people choose to share publicly. Few go out of their way to share their worst moments with the world, but most of us will inconvenience ourselves momentarily to share our best. When we miss this, it can feel at times as though everyone is doing so much better at this “life” thing than we are.
But allow me to let you in on a little secret: Even supermodels take really bad pictures, even bestselling authors struggle with insecurity and even pastors think bad thoughts about slow drivers.
We all have bad moments. LOTS of them. And every now and then we have a great moment and we love to broadcast them to the world precisely because at times they feel so few and far between.
So when you find yourself in that place where you’re tempted to beat yourself up because everyone else seems to be so much further along than you are, try to remember a couple things:
1. Most of us aren’t doing quite as well as our social media feed would lead you to believe.
We are all tempted to present ourselves as doing better than we sometimes are. But the truth is we all have our days when life is downright hard. And sometimes those days extend into weeks, months, even entire seasons. If the Bible is any indication, this is an unavoidable part of being imperfect people living in a fallen and broken world. There are going to be times in which life is exceptionally hard. And any blog, Facebook page or Twitter feed that suggests otherwise isn’t telling the whole story.
2. It is in the low moments that you are going to be most tempted to play the comparison game.
When you’re tired, when you’re stressed, when you’re down, when you’re just coming off another moment of frustration or failure, when you are most in tune with your own shortcomings, is often when you are going to be most susceptible to comparing yourself with others. Don’t take the bait. Comparing your low moment to someone else’s high moment is like comparing apples to orange Volkswagens. They are not the same and treating them as if they are will always (ALWAYS) leave you discouraged. Stop yourself the moment you feel yourself going there. Simply refuse to play that game. And lastly, remember:
3. Standing atop the mountain and walking through the valley are two parts of the same journey.
Have you ever wondered why the Apostle Paul spent so much time writing to encourage believers who were struggling to live out their faith well? Or why Jesus went out of his way on multiple occasions to warn of the inevitable hardships that await all who would choose to follow after him? The truth is struggle has always been a necessary and important part of the journey. I’ve found that keeping this truth in mind is strangely freeing. It helps curb my tendency to shame myself in the hard moments, while at the same time enabling me to joyfully celebrate the beautiful moments for what they are: rare and wonderful.
I think sometimes we all need to be reminded that just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.
So with that, I’ll let the Apostle Paul take us out:
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” —Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG)