I spend a fair amount of time on social media, often finding myself becoming slightly depressed as I scroll through the lives of friends and total strangers. Why? Because their existences seem to be so much more exciting and enjoyable than mine.
They're busy getting up to all sorts of adventures, travelling the world, eating in beautiful restaurants, always looking picture perfect. Me? Well, I'm just doing life. I get up in the morning, go to work, try to be a decent husband and father, and seek to follow Jesus as best I can.
What I have come to realise, however, is that social media only shows us the highlights - not the 'behind-the-scenes'. People tend to post their best moments, not the mundane and ordinary. The truth is that most of life isn't Instagram-worthy. So why do I constantly feel the need to compare my life with the 'filtered' photos of people I don't even know or care that much about?
The truth is: comparison kills joy. When I compare what I have with someone else, it can only lead to one of two outcomes: I become proud because I think I'm doing better than they are or I become despondent as I consider how far I'm lagging behind on whatever arbitrary scale I'm using for comparison.
Hebrews 12: 1-2 says this: "…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…"
First of all, we are only called to run the race God has marked out specifically for us. Each one of us is completely unique and therefore our calling from God is bespoke to our individual lives. I am not in competition with anyone. What God has planned for me will be different from what He has purposed for you. Comparison causes me to devalue the special gifts God has deposited within me and diminishes my ability to use them to make an impact in the world.
Secondly, instead of looking around, checking what everyone else is doing, we are called to 'fix our eyes on Jesus'. Stay firmly focused in the right direction. Don't be distracted by what's going on around you. In the mundane and ordinary days, persevere, push through, press on towards the finish line. Face forward and, by faith, don't stop until you see Jesus face to face.
Living this way might not get many 'likes' on social media. However, one day I know I will stand before God and I don't think He will care much for how well my life matched up with those around me. The only words that I long to hear are: "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25: 41)
Craig Cooney, Hope Community Church, Craigavon