Read Philippians 3:12-16.
When’s the last time you felt like you didn’t measure up? Perhaps as you scrolled through your feed on Instagram or saw a friend’s wedding Snap story, you felt like the lives depicted in these images or videos were so far from the highs and lows that you feel in your own life. That, of course, is one of the downsides of social media; social media is a projection of completion for others to see. Rarely do people share the bumps and bruises along the way to their seemingly perfect relationship, the lonely nights before making that fun group of friends, or the worry that still persists in that picture-perfect (pun certainly intended) life.
It’s easy to feel like we don’t measure up or that, in some way, our personhood is incomplete compared to that of others. In an article entitled “Is Social Media Making Me Miserable?” (Time, August 2, 2017), Markham Heid notes, “On lifestyle-focused sites like Instagram, a user may see a friend’s perfectly framed, glamorous photos and compare herself negatively to those images.” Heid notes that the social pressure of being connected on multiple social media outlets and cultivating an interesting life adds considerable anxiety and can damage one’s emotional health.
During the season of Advent, God invites us to consider and work toward new possibilities beyond what we know and experience in our current contexts. The words of Paul to the congregation at Philipi were balm for that community of faith who were learning how to be the Church. Similarly, Paul’s words cut through the snares and tangles of our present context’s norms of perfection and social pressure to be at “the finish line” (whatever that looks like) with perfect hair and with a group of cool friends. How can we have peace on the journey, not just the destination?
Reread Philippians 3:12-14. Consider: How do Paul’s words, that speak of a condition that is neither at the goal or fixated on the past or beginning, speak to you?
The season of Advent calls us to be aware of ourselves in the context of our faith journey. How will you use this season to be aware of the “in between-ness” of your life and be at peace in the journey that we all travel with Christ who invites, calls, and empowers in our broken incompleteness?
Pray: Loving God, In the midst of the pressures of this world to be perfect, thank you for loving and walking with your children as we learn to love you, ourselves, and our neighbors more deeply and completely in Christ. Amen.
Andy Morgan, UKirk UTK