When Pinterest became a “thing” a couple years ago, I was one of the first to sign up. I don’t say that in an “I’m-a-hipster-I-liked-it-before-it-was-cool” kind of way either. I admit that sheepishly, as someone who spends way too much time online, on her phone, and well, shopping.
As the laziest shopper alive, Pinterest seemed perfect because I could eat copious amounts of junk food on my couch watching Law and Order: SVU while shopping for virtually anything I wanted. Vacations, boys, weddings, a home (that I didn’t have) to decorate, more food, inappropriately hilarious memes I would later screen shot and send to everyone in my contact list (as if I had created the joke and was somehow funnier for finding it).
So it’s no surprise that when one of my friends was getting married I began to scour Pinterest and the internet world for the perfect dress to wear to her wedding. She was the first of my college friends to get married, and I mean, how often do you really get to dress up after your senior prom? The answer to that is practically never.
Unfortunately, just because you “pin” something doesn’t make it miraculously appear in your closet. In fact, half of the time you can’t even figure out the dress’s original origin. Was it beamed down by space aliens? Was it crafted in the dead of night by elves? Is Mariah Carey the only person that owns it? Well now we will NEVER know because it was pinned from ValleyGirl90210’s Tumblr account! Thanks, thanks a lot for letting me know it exists somewhere in the universe and NOW I CAN’T HAVE IT! It’s like playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, but with shoes that haunt your dreams. Where are they Carmen?! WHERE ARE THEEEEYYYYY!?
So the time eventually came for me to abandon the cyber world and have a go at reality. I must have gone to five different malls in the course of one Saturday afternoon. Nothing suited. Every single dress I found fell short in some way (usually quite literally since I am 9 feet tall) in comparison to the ones I had looked at online. Even though I had never tried them on or seen them in person, I KNEW that was the way a dress was supposed to look. I knew it would have been perfect. I turned down dozens of dresses that would have been lovely because I had this unattainable ideal stuck in my head.
Sigh. We live in an age where we have a constant influx of images, information, and visual connections available to us. Pinterest, movies, Instagram, Twitter, chick flicks, books, Facebook, Skype, millions of magazines, blogs, Netflix, Hulu…the list goes on. And while in many ways this technology is an absolute blessing as it connects us to one another and inspires individual and group creativity, it can also be damaging.
What? How can that POSSIBLY be? How can Instagram, and chick flicks, and Facebook be DAMAGING?! They are my favorite things! Before you fly off the handle, I’m not asking you to become Amish. There’s way too much horse poop involved in that, so relax.
However, I might simply ask how many times a day do we pick up our phones and find ourselves mindlessly browsing Instagram feeds, Pinterest, and Facebook statuses. And out of that, how often do these types of thoughts surface: “If I only had more followers I would feel better about myself. People would like me more if I dressed that way. Why can’t I find a guy that looks like THAT? When’s it going to be MY turn?” And thus we spiral into the world of unreality, letting fiction take root in our hearts and focusing on these standards rather than God’s.
It is easy to get lost in this fog, to evaluate life based on veiled images that are tweaked, edited, and revamped until everything has an air of perfection. We begin to think our lives need to look like an internet highlight reel or we are missing the mark. Do you post the ugly details when you are having a terrible day? Probably not. No one else does either. We are rarely given a glimpse behind the scenes to the raw unedited footage of another’s life. We are then tempted to judge our lives based upon a comparison to the air brushed version of someone else.
The Israelites had this same issue in Exodus. They had a mighty God appearing to them in a pillar of clouds and smoking fire. Yet the people around then got to worship shiny things! They became distracted by the glitter. So while they still recognized God, they decided it would be a really great combo deal to also worship a god that sparkled… like a golden calf made out of their own jewelry. Talk about a Pinterest DIY-project.
Yikes. Freaking yikes. It seems so innocent. But we will miss the people, events, and circumstances God will bring to us if we are so focused on OUR plans, formulated from what we saw in movies and on the internet. Just like I missed 1,000 different dresses I could have worn to my friend’s wedding while I was searching for an artificial perfection.
This isn’t a war cry to get everyone to delete social media accounts. I don’t plan on deleting mine. However, we need to be conscious and guard our hearts. 2 Corinthians 5:16 states that we must stop evaluating others from an earthly point of view.
We also must stop viewing God as unromantic or as if He doesn’t want us to be happy. He WANTS to give each of us a love story that will blow any chick flick you’ve ever seen out of the water. But if you’re waiting for a genetically altered Captain America to show up at your door, you’ll miss God’s love story. And God’s love story often begins with us allowing ourselves to be FIRST romanced by Him.
I do not want to hold so tightly to what I think should happen that I miss what the Author of Life is trying to do for me. His plans are not second-best and He does not want us to settle for a mediocre life. He CREATED romance. Let go. The life stories and love stories we have written in our heads and have been furiously clinging to are NOT better than His. We need to drop the unhealthy and faulty ideals and pick up God’s. Approach life with an open hand instead of like a tug-of-war match. Let HIM romance you.
I’m not bursting your bubble about the existence of romance. Rather, I am encouraging you to adopt and be open to God’s standards of romance rather than baring yourself in a prison of false ideals we have chosen from the storylines of fiction. We will miss what is REAL and GREAT while clinging tightly to the plot-lines of Hollywood and comparing our lives to those on Instagram.
Psalm 34:10 states, “Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” Meaning, even those people, those images, those bigger-than-life stories, we look at as having it “all” have areas of lacking. But those who TRUST in God will lack no good thing.
So the question is, will we trust that God will deliver what we need when we need it? Do we trust His ideals over the ones we have inadvertently picked up, like cheap treasures in a pile of rubble? Do we trust that He actually understands what we need, and at what time, better than ourselves? Do we trust that He loves each of us PASSIONATELY and just as much as anyone else? Do we trust Him enough to approach life with an open hand saying, “Okay God, whatever you want to bring me. I will fix my eyes on you. Whatever you want to take out of my hand or place in my hand, it is well with my soul…Even if the dress wasn’t on Pinterest.”
He has every resource at His disposal. He knows you better than you know you. Let Him write your life and love stories.