Adjusting the Filter

What's your favorite filter? Come on Instagram users, we all have our go-to, right? Do you like Instagram's native filters? Or do you prefer VSCO? I'm a VSCO girl myself. Ok, in all seriousness, I have been spending the last few weeks thinking about filters and how they affect my daily life.

What filter am I (are you) looking through?

It's funny how easily we get sucked into the comparison game. The grass is always greener, right? So many of us spend our days scrolling through all the numerous ways we update the world on our daily lives, minute by minute letting people know what we are doing, where we are doing it, and why they need to care. But of course we are only showing our best selves in the social world.

Am I posting a photo of my baby crying at 2AM? Definitely not. Am I sharing a video of my house when it's a mess? Nope. What about a photo of my husband and I after an argument with a caption detailing our argument and why he's making me so mad? Not the most romantic thing I could do. We are all showing our lives through the best filter possible, and realistically, who wants to scroll through a feed of depressing posts and "real-life"? We all like the filters. We all love our social media selves. I do think it's important to sprinkle in a little salt though. Important to give everyone some of the real "me" every once and awhile. I recently posted an adorable photo of my daughter (honestly, how adorable is she?!) and seconds later she spit up all over my favorite comforter. So I thought I should caption the photo appropriately, because I realize as a mom, that when I look at all the other moms on Instagram posting perfect photos of their babies, it took them probably 45 minutes to get that one photo, and in between takes they were mostly likely crying, running around, or fighting them the whole time.

Fasting social media may not be the most spiritual fast for the books (or at least, not everyone's go-to), but I think it's important to readjust the filter I'm using. Step away for a moment, and make sure I am looking through a God-filter. Cheesy, I know, but all too true. I spend my days scrolling through hundreds of posts (most of which, I could really care less about), but then I find myself so discontent with my own life and resentful at people I love (and of course some people I don't even know). "Must be nice to have all the time in the world to be at home with your baby." "Must be nice to be able to get paid to travel and take pictures." "Must be nice to have a house with a yard and not share your room with an infant.""Must be nice." I don't think I'm the best version of myself when I spend too much time on social media, because I get swallowed into the comparison pit. I'm Alice, falling down down down the rabbit hole, confused about how I got here, curious about what's happening around me, wondering how I can get out.

I read something recently about digging into your jealousies. The author touched on the idea that so often, we are encouraged to run away from being jealous, turn it off, and confess it. But when we actually dive into it, what we really find is longing. She said, "I'm learning that envy can be an extremely useful tool to demonstrate our desires, especially the ones we haven't yet allowed ourselves to feel, and so I committed to learning from my jealousy." And then she asked, "What makes you say, 'Must be nice'? What longing might your jealousy lead you to, if you're brave enough to listen to it before you push it away?" As I was fasting from social media, I took some time to write down the things that have been making me so "jealous" and when I read them, I realized she was right. So as I look at these things, scribbled on a page, I see these "jealousies" in a different light. I see pieces of a life that I long to be mine.

Although God is in control of our lives and His will is greater than ours, there are many aspects of our life that we do get to determine. When I look at someone and think "Ugh, they are so fun and adventurous. I wish I was that fun and adventurous." What's stopping me? It's up to me to decide to be a more fun person. I don't need to pray about that. What is holding me back from being the person I want to be? From being the person God wants me to be? Sometimes I think comparison keeps me trapped from flourishing, because I will never be as good, as talented, as creative, as ____ as whomever.

The reality, however, is that I do have control over the filter I see my life through. And I do have control over my attitude. I have control over my choice to be grateful for where God has me, and to thank Him for wherever He will take me (whenever that is). So the next time you or I find ourselves envying one person or the next, let's dive into it. What desire might we allow ourselves to feel and be brave enough to explore? Better yet, what new filter can we choose to view our lives through so that we can be grateful and not resentful?


Just 10 Seconds

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is probably one of my favorite shows. I don't know what it is about the ridiculous humor, but I can't get enough of it.

In one of the episodes, Kimmy is trying to encourage the woman she nannies for and says "You can do anything for 10 seconds." (Then flashback to Kimmy being held captive in a bunker, spinning a wheel for no reason and repeatedly counting to 10.)

Currently, my life revolves around 3 hour segments. So I find myself jokingly wondering what I can do for just 3 hours. "Ok, Brighton just fed, so I have about 3 hours to do something fun until she feeds again." It's pretty insane how quickly the days fly by and how I find myself already half way through maternity leave and shedding tears at the thought of it.

Motherhood is crazy. Straight up crazy town. We got blessed with an incredible baby. She sleeps. She's not fussy unless she's gassy or hungry (I mean, who isn't). She smiles at us. 99% of the time it's heaven. Of course there is the 1%. Where she keeps throwing up on me and keeps soiling burp rag after burp rag and outfit after outfit. Or blows out of her diaper. All of this when we don't have laundry in our 1-bedroom apartment. I know we should always be grateful, because it could always be worse. But I know if we are all honest with each other, it's very easy to get discouraged when things aren't going as planned. When you can't get that extra bedroom just yet. Or you have to bring your laundry to a laundromat. Or maybe our careers aren't where we thought they would be. Or our relationships.

At 28-years-old I know I don't have anything figured out, the least of these being motherhood. But I feel like among the many lessons parenthood will teach you, it's about being present and grateful. Because I really can't operate outside of 3 hours at a time. So, like Kimmy Schmidt, I find myself saying, "You can do anything for 3 hours".

When working through my anxiety, my counselor once told me to ask myself, "what do I know right now?" Instead of allowing myself to think too far ahead, or to create all these improbable scenarios and outcomes in my head, I have to stop and ask myself, "what do I know right now?" I know that today, everything is fine. In this moment, my baby is calm. In this moment, she is healthy. In this moment [insert truth here]. I have a tendency to think so far ahead into the unknown future that when I can't see how all our dreams and plans will come true, I just end up discouraged and angry and without hope. Recently, I was reading through this She Reads Truth devo and found hope to counteract my bad attitude that day.

The writer said,

"Here’s the difference between Paul and me (as if there’s only one): I believe God has good plans for me, but I assume His plans fall within the boundary lines of my own. In other words, God’s good plans for me are His expert version of my first draft. Paul knew better.....Paul knew this, too. He knew Scripture is true—not in part, but in whole. He knew the gospel of Jesus is true—not in part, but in whole. Paul knew God is sovereign and good—not sometimes, but all the time. Not within the boundaries we give Him, but through all of history and time and space. Our hope does not die when our hands are chained or when life seems at a standstill. Our God is sure and faithful."

Even when life seems at a standstill, I can trust that God has plans for me beyond my wildest dreams. I can remind myself to take life moment my moment, or just 3 hours at a time, to soak in the blessings that exist today.