Recently I was having a conversation with a woman I barely knew. She began to ask me semi-intrusive questions about my life, my children, and foster care. If you know me, you know transparency is one of my stronger suits. I am not afraid of sharing my life with those who ask. ( I actually struggle with oversharing information.) After a few questions surrounding the length of time we have waited to find out whether our children were eligible for adoption she said, “Wow, that was fast…” Our exchange ended and days later I found myself chewing on her words.
We live in a culture that breeds comparison and judgment. Everything from business, to children, to homes, to careers. Nothing is as good as it could be or should be. Nothing happens as fast as we want or as often as it should. As soon as Thanksgiving ends, Christmas supplies take their place on the shelves, and as soon Christmas ends Spring decor finds it way to the forefront. There hasn’t even been the first snow of winter and we are ready for Spring…something is wrong. This dissatisfaction doesn’t end out there, thanks to technology it follows us home. We spend hours online looking for the perfect couch while filling the shopping cart full of things we will never buy. We digitally create a life of ideas rather than living the one in front of us. And believe me even as I type, I feel the conviction. I am guilty. I use all of these things regularly and still know it isn’t good for me. So why do we do it? Why are we allowing our society, marketing, and other people to set the standard of our dream lives? It is exhausting. I can only imagine what the generations of old would say of Pinterest. “You what? You mean you never have to use your own imagination?” “You mean you forego the benefit of trying and failing?” “What do you mean, you don’t need a person to show, you can look it up online?” I feel saddened for us. I feel saddened for my children.
All of these thoughts culminated tonight as I chewed on the words “Wow, that was fast”. For whatever reason I pictured Billy Graham. I think it is safe to say most people know who Billy Graham is. He was a “first” of his kind type of minister and led the charge in new ways of sharing the Gospel. I see the highlights of Billy’s life and as a bystander it is easy for me to be blind to the rest. Instagram has me trained to scroll through the pictures and like the one that “speaks” to me the most. The one that has the best depiction of the story I need in that moment. (I hope this doesn’t come across as judgmental. I am literally saying every word out loud as I ask myself the same questions.) What has my life become? Who am I training my children to be? Where do I find inspiration? Who’s life have I created a highlight reel for, without actually acknowledging the person behind the photo? “Wow, that was fast.” I wanted to scream back, it actually wasn’t fast. It was the hardest, most draining experience of my life. It stretched me to the point of breaking. It made me question myself and my own sanity. It hurt and I don’t exaggerate when I say it was at times a living hell. Her ability to see “fast” and “quick” or “painless” when I saw pain, long-suffering, hoping against hope, was an indication of her investment into the situation. When you have skin in the game, the outcome means more to you. When you have a connection to the situation you know the pain in the process. You see the struggle. You know that outcome is worthy to be celebrated because of the fight the journey has been.
But aren’t we all guilty of the same thing? How shallow of me to look at the life of Billy Graham and want to be as influential as he was and is. I didn’t fight for his breakthrough. I didn’t weather the storms he has. I haven’t put in an ounce of the time he has to get where he is. In a culture where comparison and judgment scream daily to be heard, I challenge each of us to dig into something deeper. To develop a mindset to see people. To invest in people. To delete the highlight reels and take those around us off of pedestals. It is an honor to value the journey of each person and the storms they have weathered. The fights they have won. I pray we see others success as something to be celebrated and their life something to help shape our own. The money, position, title aren’t things I ever want to chase after, nor are they things I ever want to let define the value of that person. I pray that I am never a person who sees people through the lens of “wow, that was fast” and fail to connect to their journey. May we never allow our heart to be full of comparison when someone succeeds or judgment when they don’t. 2018 will be a year that I celebrate the victories of the people around me. I will invest my life into hearing their stories and I will purpose in my heart to seek after a more genuine creativity. I will put down the phone and pick up my babies more. I will empty the shopping carts and hold the hand of my husband as often as I can.
A healthy mind full of thankfulness and rest are the best thing we can give to those around us. My husband recently said “ The way to a better you is easy. Give the best you to those around you every day, every minute.” To do so most of us need to turn off the computer and go live our lives. Use our own imagination and build a life that puts any board to shame. It might not be worthy of a re-pin to anyone else, but to those babies looking up at you or the person beside you, it will. To live uniquely is one of the most beautiful gifts we have been given. Here’s to saying “Wow, that was fought for” a lot more!
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