I read this blog post over the weekend and realised this is such a crucial area of life that it bears saying all over again.
It’s so important that when we scroll through our social media timelines, and looking at pictures of happy smiling friends or family, that we remind ourselves that these are just snapshots of their lives and there will be plenty going on in the background that is less than ‘perfect’ or ‘happy’. It’s massively important that we teach our children to be critical of what they will see on social media – not only do they need to look out for ‘fake news’ items but they also need to guard against comparing the whole of their lives to one (or two!) snapshots of another’s! It’s also an important part of being resilient – being able to be happy for others without it making us unhappy with our own situations.
So in the spirit of authenticity and what photos can’t show you, here are a few of mine…
This is me, 13 weeks pregnant with my number 2 son at a friend’s wedding Christmas 2008. What this picture doesn’t show you is the stressful evening we’d had the night before in finding the B&B. Later in the day a friend and I had to walk to the reception venue as both our husbands were part of the wedding party and had neglected to tell us there was room in the taxis the bride & groom had arranged.
This photo is from early in 2010. I had lost a lot of weight which felt great, but what you can’t see is that I was utterly exhausted, losing my hair and in a lot of pain. It was just a few weeks later that I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and then underwent major surgery.
This is a picture of my hubby and smallest boy on the beach in the summer of 2013. What this photo doesn’t show is that we were there with our closest friends who had recently lost a baby and just decided to leave Eastbourne. I was heartbroken and grieving for their loss and ours.
This is a picture of a baptism service at our local pool. I posted this on Facebook in September 2014 as it was our first church service with our new church. What this photo doesn’t show you is that we had wrestled with whether or not to leave the previous church for most of the year, but had finally done so leaving behind precious friends and fractured relationships (some of which have yet to be fully healed).
This is a picture of me in the middle of a bunch of young people and my two boys at Soul Survivor 2014. What you can’t see in this picture of the last night there is that we hadn’t slept most of the week as our then 5 yr old (to my right in the picture) hated sleeping in a tent and had kept us awake! What is also not clear from this picture is that these were some of the young people we ‘walked away from*’ when we had decided to leave that church just a month earlier. It was a painful week in many ways.
*Yes, someone did use that phrase…
Sometimes our edited highlights are edited for good reason: I didn’t want to post very much on Facebook about my cancer because it didn’t feel like the right place to air such a private and devastating event; I didn’t post very much about the grief of losing our friends or leaving our church for very similar reasons, even now there’s a whole back story to those events that I don’t feel able to tell. We might edit our highlights to show our best selfie face, or to show the best bits of our day, our room, our home, or the activities we’ve been a part of, and there’s nothing wrong with this as such. But we need to remind ourselves that others are watching and comparing their own lives with what they see of ours. Let’s be the most authentic versions of ourselves that we can be, and let’s agree not to compare our whole lives with the edited highlights of our friends’.