If you are friends with me on facebook, you’re probably wondering, if she hates facebook so much, why does she post so many statuses and pictures (with ironic #unnecessaryhashtags)? So allow me to clarify. I love facebook- but I hate what it does to me.
After reading this article in Relevant Magazine, I started to see how too much time on facebook was making me into a person who I didn’t like very much.
I found that the more time I was spending on facebook, the more I struggled with envy- both on and off facebook. I was looking around me at all the good things in my life, and they still didn’t seem like enough. As I compared myself to other people and their vibrant, full color lives that I saw through the lens of facebook, my life seemed somehow dull and lacking. All I could see were the negatives- my loneliness, my boredom, my small paychecks. Even though all around me were incredible blessings, I was missing them.
But then God stepped into my pity party.
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.” (Psalm 40:2 ESV)
And the colors started to shine a little brighter for me. Once I was able to see out of that disorienting pit of envy, I started to recognize the things around me for what they are.
Here are 3 things I’ve learned about envy.
1. Envy is an insult to a loving God
What is there to envy? If I am envious of someone else’s blessings, it’s as if I’m saying that God withheld something from me that I deserve. At the heart of it, envy implies that perhaps God loves other people more than He loves me. But the crazy, unfathomable thing about God is that He is incapable of showing favoritism (Romans 2:11).
There is no one in the world that God loves more than He loves me. There is no one in all of history who He loved more than He loves you. And there is no one who He loves less. He loves each of us perfectly and completely and devotedly.
” For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
He loved us from the creation of the world. He will love us for eternity to come. He loved us on the cross. Every moment of every day He is continues to show us His love, whether we acknowledge it or not.
2. The person you envy just might envy you.
We so easily get caught up in the comparison game. When we’re single, we secretly (or openly) resent seeing those adorable engagement and wedding pictures on our newsfeed. Married people look wistfully at those of us who have the freedom to pack up and travel the globe. Poor college kids are looking jealously at hipster apartments that they can’t afford, while young professionals are complaining about how they miss the carefree college days. If we’re honest, every one of us has something that we envy. But you don’t know what someone else might be jealous of in your life.
3. Envy is a choice.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30)
For me, I had to recognize that late nights on facebook were leading me down a vicious spiral of comparison and discontent. So as soon as I feel myself thinking that way, I shut down my computer and go read a book, or go outside, or talk to a real person. Anything to get my mind out of that place. Because I know myself. I know that self-pity is addicting. For some reason I can’t comprehend, there is a part of me that wants to feel badly about myself.
Am I the only one struggling with this? I doubt it. So maybe it’s time we started thinking about other people before we post those incredible vacation pictures or another status about how wonderful our lives are. Before we hit post, let’s pause and think: Why am I posting this? Who do I hope to encourage with this? If the answer isn’t “everyone one who might read it,” maybe facebook isn’t the place to share that.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing our experiences on facebook. That’s what facebook is all about. But there’s a difference between sharing a few pictures when you come back from a trip and sharing 20 pictures a day while you’re on vacation. As if our life would lose significance if we didn’t publicize all the details.
Sometimes I think that I use facebook to prove myself to other people. To have some kind of evidence that my life is meaningful. But then I remember that Christ gave my life meaning before I even took my first breath, simply by loving me. I have nothing to prove.
So instead of using facebook to validate our experiences and feed into our vanity, maybe it’s time to learn how to show genuine love in the way we use facebook.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)