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If It Didn’t Happen on Instagram, Did It Really Happen?

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I love Instagram. Truth be told, I hate Facebook. Too much bickering and links to articles that scare me. {These foods kill you! Silent drowning! Sunscreen is evil!} I can’t take it. Twitter cramps my penchant for wordiness. But Instagram with all its beautiful pictures of sunsets and squishy babies and delicious eats–that is right up my alley. I love beauty, and I love finding it everywhere, especially in the unexpected. Little glimpses into the messy beautiful of my village and a few I admire from afar is fun for me.

I have to be careful because, just like my own feed, all those beautiful pics are just a tiny slice of a life. One moment captured by the confines of a lens. And I can’t let myself go to it when I’m bored or in a bad place because then it isn’t about slivers of beauty. It’s about jealousy and discontent. I wish I was doing that, going there, eating that. Suddenly, the every day beauty that surrounds me isn’t enough anymore, and my heart turns from gratitude to greed. During Lent a couple years ago, I gave up social media, and that time without still echoes in my heart. I learned how I use social media as a crutch, a medicine when my heart is hurting. Since that Lent, I’ve taken a sabbath from social media on Sundays, and every week I’m reminded of the beauty in quiet. Be still and know that I am God. 

Recently, I’ve noticed something else during my sabbath. It’s this question rattling around like marbles in an old tin can. “If it didn’t happen on Instagram, did it really happen?” And really the question deep down is this, “Was that special moment special because of the moment or special because of the ‘likes’?” Deep slices through my heart. Do I share something because it’s funny or encouraging or beautiful? I think these are all great reasons to share, and I love the far-reaching community those things create. But if I’m being ugly honest, sometimes I share because I want to be liked. And loved. I want somebody to say, “You’re such a fun mom” or “You look so good.” And that’s a fast way into a dark hole. When I find myself interrupting something special thinking, “I’ve got to get a pic for Instagram,” I know something is off, and I have some soul-searching to do. A moment etched in my heart is just as meaningful as the one captured in a square on Instagram. 

The Holy Spirit and I have a regular conversation where He nudges me to look at my motives, and I get all defensive. But then I realize this is what I want, this refining, this stretching, this bringing my ugly into the light. And so I sit at my table with my prayer journal and splay it all out there because, of course, He already knows. And a few things creep up often like the stubborn weeds that persist in the cracks of my driveway. Discontent. Seeking approval from people. Wanting to be perfect. And the record that loves to live on repeat–control. 
The Holy Spirit nudges (sometimes shoves) me forward, and I have to examine my heart. Am I doing this, posting that, saying these words to get someone to like me? Am I being honest or just trying to look like I’ve got my act together? 

Or is this the pouring out of a heart secure in her relationship with Abba Father, confident telling the messy beautiful story of a sinner saved by grace? 

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