To many folks, that text might read as insensitive. I'm not usually one to criticize what people post on facebook. Whatever makes you happy I say. Whether it's a picture of your dinner, a record of your workout, or a video of your three year old singing on a toilet - if you feel it's good to share, share it! I get it! I recently had a cousin post that if you were tired of seeing news about his baby then unfriend him. I get that too.
What you wouldn't know in reading my friend's text is that she recently lost a pregnancy in her second trimester. She is not alone. Two weeks later that same friend's sister also lost a baby in the second trimester. I had another close friend, just a week or two earlier, who miscarried due to something she would have never known about had she never gotten pregnant - but is going to make it difficult for her to ever carry a baby. These are HEARTBREAKING things. I've wept with and for these women, but I can never know what that feels like to them. I guess it was inevitable that since pretty much everyone I know is pregnant or just had a baby in the last few months that statistically, more than one of them was bound to be unsuccessful or have serious complications - but my friends aren't statistics. They're hurting women.
Both of these dear friends of mine have had to take facebook hiatuses at some point during this season. Why? Because going on facebook is a daily reminder that people all around them have what they almost had. While you want to be happy for your friends, you can't help but to hurt knowing they're all going on with their lives while you're in pain.
I've also faced this in my own life, and it's been a factor in a few of my own breaks from social media. At my age, everyone I know is getting married, buying houses, and having kids. All things I thought I'd have done at this point. So after a while the ongoing newsreel of weddings, engagements, and baby announcements starts to eat at me.
I find it it really hard to balance my emotions between being incredibly happy for my friends and wanting to punch them for rubbing it in my face - then feeling guilty for feeling that way.
To the people who truly recognize just how unique a gift their lives are, I am generally more accepting. I have a few friends who genuinely recognize that these things are BLESSINGS not GIVENS. I recognize that being called to live in New York and go to social work school is a GIFT that I am thankful for and humbled by each day (yes, even today when I got on the "hot car" on the subway... TWICE). I try to post under that context - and I do my best not to complain too often. But I cannot tell you how often I want to scream "Wait... SHE has this great boyfriend?! What's she got that I haven't got?"
Once there was one of those quotes-on-a-picture things going around that said "Home is where your husband is." I wanted so badly to respond "So what am I, homeless? Lost?"
It's easy to get lost in the sea of "I can't imagine life without my husband/kids" posts. And even more difficult not to compare.
Every year around mother's or father's day someone makes it a point to recognize that we need to be careful what we post or say because there are a lot of hurting people out there who've lost a mother and/or father. Everyone tries to be sensitive to that, as we should. I am absolutely positive there are things I post on a regular basis that unintentionally stir up some kind of hurt in someone else - someone who's longing for something I have that they dont. We all do, but when I find myself getting lost in comparisons I have a few things that have helped me to remember just how blessed I am in my current state, even when it hurts. .
- Social media is the HIGHLIGHT REEL. People don't post the awful things going on in their lives for the most part (except the women who constantly complain about their husbands, thus publicly humiliating them, and I wonder why they bothered getting married if they have no consideration for this guy's feelings...). Typically people show you the highlights. No one is instagramming funerals. Even today, I was having an emotional wreck of a day, and I bought myself a float at Shake Shack to try to cheer up, and I almost made some comment about just how wonderful Abita root beer is and how I am so thankful to work so close to a place that serves it on tap... (This is my life...), but had I posted it, it would have looked like I was having a wonderful day, and I wasn't, not by a long shot. Not only was I already a mess, but Shake Shack triggered a memory that sent my into an emotional tailspin that resulted in some fairly embarrassing public weeping overlooking Fulton Street. I need not tweet about that. Keep in mind when you see happy babies and happy mommies and happy weddings that things aren't lace and roses all the time, but that IS what people want to share.
- YOU ARE NOT DEFINED BY YOUR MARITAL OR PARENTAL STATUS. That's a tough one. I literally have to remind myself of this every morning. While I may be pining over what I don't have, it does not define me, and chances are no one but me even notices (I haven't figured out yet if that's a good thing or not, but I'm going with yes?). So when you start to look at yourself and think "Everyone must think I've got some major flaw because I've never had a boyfriend," remind yourself that pretty much no one gives a crap about that but you, and maybe your mom...
- "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light: - 1 Peter 2:9 THAT is where our identity should lie.
- BABIES ARE CUTE, WEDDINGS ARE PRETTY. Like really. I torture myself because I can't get enough of your baby pictures. I can't get enough of your wedding pictures either. So when I start to blame other people for posting too much, I also recognize that I SEEK these things so it's kinda my fault. Check my wedding board on Pinterest.... it speaks for itself.
- It's okay to hurt. God calls us not to covet, but that doesn't mean you're going to long for what you don't have - it becomes a sin when you start letting it define who you are, and affect the way you think of others. I admit I've idolized the family I don't have, and I've coveted yours. I have to die to that, even when it hurts, I need to be content with my life (which is actually a pretty stinking awesome life).
One of my prayers lately has been that if I ever do get the chance to get married and have children that I remember this phase, and how much it hurts, so I can better minister to women who are where I am - and so I don't end up hurting them myself. I have such a hard time finding women to talk to who GET IT. I love my friends, but most of them got married in their early twenties, to guys they've dated since college or high school. I love their input, but I cannot imagine they could know how I feel - but the truth is, I dont know how they feel either.
I recently read THIS wonderful blog post written by a woman who was 39 and about to get married and wanted to remember what it was like to be single. So much of what she said rang true for me - single girls don't want to be asked about our relationships or new guys we're hanging out with, if you got married really young -shut up, and my favorite: we sometimes go days or weeks without so much as a hug, and never having any physical contact with another human being can make you feel inhuman and also dredge up all sorts of temptations. I pray that if this season ever changes, I remember what it was like, and that I'm sensitive to it.
I sometimes feel like this is why God has kept me in this state for so long - so I can minister to women just like myself, who find themselves lost in conversations about romantic relationships (because they've never had one), or who don't know how to respond to yet another engagement announcement, or who watch their guy friends get married one right after the other and wonder "why didn't they ever consider ME" (even if you've never considered THEM...). If that's why he's maintained my middle-school level of relationship status and dating experience, then I guess I'm up for the challenge, but that means I need to be as vocal about this as others are vocal about the things that remind us of what we don't have - and being that transparent is hard.
So here's to being willing to admit that sometimes, we aren't living in the highlight reel, but even in the dull times, life is a pretty good show.
"Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through out Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." - Romans 5:1-2