I need to confess some sins I've been struggling with: jealousy, lack of contentment, envy, pride. And that's just to name a few. You'd think that as a woman who stays home most days with her kids, I wouldn't have the opportunity to cultivate all these vices. But they come to me ... via Facebook.
My mom has a couple of impressive cross-stitched pictures in her home. When I asked my typically non-crafty mother what inspired her to spend hours on these pieces of Americana, she explained that when she was a mom of young children, she felt like she hardly accomplished anything in a day. Cross-stitching gave her a sense of accomplishment as she watched the picture take shape day after day.
In some ways, Facebook has become the new "accomplishment meter." Not just for stay-at-home moms, but also for singles, young marrieds, grandparents and pretty much anyone. It's an easy conduit for presenting the wonders of your life — impressive exercise sessions, gourmet meals you cook and/or consume, glamourous photos, outings with friends, fun vacations, Instagrams of cute offspring, etc.
When I was single, I posted a lot about the exciting things I was doing. And to be embarrassingly honest, I posted a lot of pictures of myself that I felt made me look attractive. I loved to check back and receive people's validation of my life. (Josh Harris talked about this in his blog "My One and Only Week on Facebook.")
Nowadays, I'm doing less ... at least less that would impress others. I'm not about to post, "Changed eight poopy diapers today" or "Finally got a shower at 2 p.m." as my Facebook status. And six weeks after giving birth, I'm not posting any glamourous pictures of myself either. My biggest pitfall now is comparing myself to others and feeling inadequate because I have less to show for myself. According to a study released a few years ago, I'm not the only one who can get bummed out by Facebook. Looking at the "best" of everyone else's life can make me feel pretty rotten about my own.
The other day, I looked up a recipe for pumpkin muffins on the Internet (Pinterest, anyone?), mixed them up and baked them. They even had a crumb topping, which required extra culinary finesse. For me, the addition of muffin-making to the mundane daily tasks associated with caring for a toddler and infant was a HUGE accomplishment. And what was my first urge (which I totally gave into)? To post a picture on Facebook. I wanted the world (or at least several hundred Facebook friends) to know that I did something worthy that day — I baked muffins.
This is kind of a rambling, soul-searching, no-big-answers post. I'm not condemning Facebook. I love that I can connect with people during the day, including my family, former co-workers and college friends, without having to leave the house — a luxury lonely stay-at-home moms of the past never had. I think social networking has provided a bit of a lifeline for people like me. At the same time, I see how regular consumption of it feeds some sinful habits. Particularly, I know it's wrong to be seeking my worthiness from others instead of from the Lord.
Here's the thing. God didn't care that I made those muffins. He cared that I expressed love and patience to my children throughout the day. He cared that I looked for ways to bless and care for my family, even if no one ever knew about it. Most importantly, He cared that I fulfilled the role that day that He had called me to. And I didn't need Facebook to tell me that.
Social networking may be the new cross-stitch for women in my stage of life, but unfortunately I'm finding that it can have a less wholesome and therapeutic effect. I'm still thinking about how to curb the sinful tendencies Facebook encourages in me. And whether Facebook is the stumbling block, or something else is, I know I will always have to contend with my sin nature. Still, to be on the safe side, maybe I'll take up cross-stitching.