I've been wrestling a lot with Instagram lately. Like, a lot. I'll tell myself I don't care about having a curated feed, if my photos all have the same color scheme or if I post four times a day. But then I'll open the app and see I lost 10 followers and the obsessive thoughts take over. Is it because I posted too much? Is it because I post pointless stuff? It's because that black and white picture I posted had a different filter, it threw everything off.
It has got to stop.
I didn't use to spend this much time thinking about Instagram. Back when it was just friends and family following. For reasons I don't quite understand, there are over five thousand lovely souls following me on this thing - and although that feels kind of cool, it also feels weighty and scary. At some point it stopped being a place to share, and became a place to perform. I got hungry for more - more likes, more followers, more mentions, more features. I think it's common, when you own your own business and aren't totally sure if you're going to make it another month. In my mind, more followers translates to more eyes on my shop which translates to more sales. So I tell myself that the performance makes good business sense, and I keep on keeping on. Keep sharing the beautiful, curated, lovely photos with captions I obsess over, hoping to draw more people in, hoping they'll stay. Perform, perform, perform.
I just read this incredible blog post by Michelle Gardella and wanted to jump out of my chair with praise for her words. "People are like, why would anyone share the darkness when the world needs so much light? And I'm just like, why is reality dark? It's not. We've just got it all wrong. Reality is where it's at."
It's so true. Sometimes, some days, my life really is rainbows and butterflies. The baby naps, my husband is loving and wonderful and I selflessly serve him in return. Dinner is made, dishes get washed, we fall asleep holding hands.
And other days? Xavier wakes up five times overnight and one time I go into his room and tell him to stop crying and then slam the nursery door as hard as I can because it's 2 a.m. and I just have nothing left and Matt is cursing at the dog who needs to go outside and I tell him to chill out even though I was just door-slamming and we go back to sleep on opposite sides of the bed, an ocean between us.
Life is beauty and life is brokenness. Marriage is wonderful and marriage is the hardest thing I've ever done. Motherhood fills me up and motherhood empties me to the point of feeling like a dried-up, washed-out husk of a person. "The agony and the ecstasy" as my mom likes to say. C'est la vie. We march on.
And I'm not saying I want my Instagram account to suddenly be filled with pictures of my husband and I fighting or piles of dirty laundry or the baby crying. But dang it, I want to stop feeling this intense, all-consuming PRESSURE to only share certain things. I love what Michelle says in her blog post, "...we are so entangled in this super charged, super pure, super happy version of what we think we need to be, that we forget the beauty of who we really are." YES. There is glory in ALL of it.
And I realize this all comes down to me. I am the one holding myself to this standard. I am the one letting ten lost followers ruin my entire day - wondering over and over what I could have done different, why they decided they didn't like me after all. More flower photos! More Bible verses! That will keep them!
It's insecurity to the highest degree and it's not what my Father calls me to.
Last night I said to Matt, about people unfollowing, "I just want people to like me." And as soon as those words left my lips, the reality of what I'd said sunk in. And the truth dawned on me - I don't want people to like me. I want people to love Him. I want to use every avenue available to me - Instagram included - to build His kingdom, reveal His glory and make His name known.
I've been thinking of writing an Instagram mission statement after reading this post by my friend Nancy a few months ago, but yesterday it all came to a head and I realized I have to get a grip on this, before it wreaks havoc on my life. Surprisingly, the words came easily this morning.
I want to boldly and authentically share my real life, which is sometimes lovely and sometimes not, and proclaim the beauty in every circumstance and season. With every image and word, I want to declare His goodness in the blessings and share what He’s teaching in the hardship and point back to Jesus who is the author and creator of all that I have and all that I am.
As soon as I typed it out, I felt peace wash over me. A breath of fresh air. Who cares if people unfollow me. Who cares if I don't get a single like on a single photo. If I use this medium to make Jesus famous, it is enough. It is enough.
I want to just be real-life me. A wife who sometimes selflessly loves her husband and sometimes fails him, too. A mama who is sometimes present and all-in with her son, and who sometimes loses her patience, too. A friend who is sometimes there and sometimes a flake. But above all, a Daughter of the King who is dearly loved and ultimately redeemed.
The agony and the ecstasy. All for His glory, in His name. Amen.