Worrying about what other people think about us is a heavy burden. Seriously. Worrying about the disapproval of others can literally kill us.
Long before Instagram, The Church was a major contributor to the myth that “I have my life together.” If we belong to a church that thrives on image over reality, we have a problem. If our Insta-feed shows a perfectly curated existence, we are basically deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. Or so said John the Evangelist.
First of all, worrying about what others think is going to make us so tired. Secondly, that whole Abundant Life thing Jesus talked about will be fairly impossible to experience.
Assorted comments I’ve heard in my travels:
- If my child doesn’t get married in the sanctuary, our church friends will believe we haven’t passed down our faith to them.
- If I leave my marriage, people will think I wasn’t a good husband/wife.
- If my people find out my child is gay, our church friends will shame us.
- If my Bible study group knows my husband/wife is an alcoholic, they will look down on me.
- If we don’t have the retirement party at the country club, people will think we have money problems.
- If I miss a single family event, my extended family will shun me.
Oh good grief.
Age helps with this because many of us learn not to care what other people think. And it’s not that we don’t want to be liked or valued; it’s that we want to be liked and valued for being our real selves. Abundant life comes when we know we are loved and valued because God created us and not because of the kind of car we drive or what college our child got accepted into.
The bottom line is this: if we want to put our beautiful cakes and patios on Instagram, do it. If we want to put our hot mess photos on Instagram, do it. We are loved in spite of our poor choices and dirty hair.
And I like pretty cakes and sunsets and happy family photos. Bring ’em on. But that’s not why we are loved.
I concur, Oh, good grief.
I have always assumed that disapproval is the default (others regarding me, that is) so I just go forth anyway. You can say that’s a disturbing mindset to have, but it does make me truly appreciative of the positive feedback I occasionally receive. And there’s this: most people are not busy thinking about you (general “you”); they’re too busy focusing on themselves (paraphrasing Calvin Trillin).. thanks as always for the timely and gentle reminder.