This is not a book review.
I finished reading My (not so) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella a couple of days ago. Occasionally when I’m reading I like a bit of chick lit, as I often go for quite serious historical fiction. It’s a bit of light relief. Anyway, I’m not going to tell you the whole story just in case you happen to read it, but it is about a young woman, Katie Brennan, who portrays her life in London on Instagram as a perfect, happy, fun life, when in fact it’s far from it. She spends a long time on a horrible commute, she lives in a cramped apartment with people she doesn’t get on with, her job is low paid, she has no real friends, she’s struggling to make her ideas known to a boss who can’t even remember her name and so on. She envies those around her – the girls she works with, her boss, her best friend in New York – because they seem to have the life she wants. She pretends to be like them – losing her Somerset accent, straightening her curly hair, even going by a different nickname. Then things go wrong, she’s forced to take a break, and she finds their ‘perfect lives’ are very far from perfect.
This is what we all do on social media. Facebook, Instagram and whatever else we use to document our lives are full of the highlights, the funnies, the cute moments and the witty comments. Some of my friends call Facebook – ‘boast-book’. We edit out the bad bits. We envy those who, by all appearances, have the perfect family, or are having the time of their lives on holidays we can’t afford, or doing jobs we’d like to do, or can do baking, writing, or fill-in-the-blank, five hundred times better than us and on and on. It’s a big comparison game, that we fall for time and again. It has the power to make us miserable. It has made me miserable plenty of times.
Of course, social media is not all bad. Not what I’m saying.
What we need is honesty. Not just on social media.
Let’s be real about our struggles. Let’s tell people how it really is, it makes it so much easier for others to handle their own struggles when we’re willing to say, ‘everything is not so perfect here.’
For example, I can write a pretty blog post every day and not tell you that sometimes marriage is hard work, sometimes I am a rubbish wife, and I feel inadequate as a parent almost all the time. Or I can. I’ll share the good things for sure, but won’t gloss over the tough parts of life.
Even more so, I pray that my church family is somewhere people come to and not get the impression that we believe in God and now everything is fine. I don’t think that’s the case, it certainly wouldn’t be true. This side of heaven God doesn’t promise us an easy life, but He does promise to be with us.
Rather I hope that people come into the church and see us struggling with all sorts of issues, but coming to God with them to work them out, and standing with others as they grapple with the hard stuff of life. I hope they see us working out what living as a christian really means and living that out in an honest and real way, with grace. I hope they see all of us broken people who have been put back together by a loving God, confident to say that He is the answer to all our deepest needs. Weak people who mistakes and always need God’s strength and forgiveness, and who need each other. I hope anyone who comes in feels loved, not left out.