I call it “In your face-book,” she told me. “I hate Facebook.”
I nodded, absorbing her reasons not to post updates on a given topic.
She didn’t say it, but I had to guess that perhaps her abhorrence of Facebook was at least partially related to the fact that God had not yet given her the desire of her heart in the form of a baby.
God knows that I know it’s impossible to get on Facebook without seeing “in your face” reminders of un-motherhood: pregnancy announcements, birth announcements…babies, grandbabies…videos, photos…funny sayings, cute faces…pajama pictures, pool pictures…ultrasound shots…maternity photos…My Little Pony cakes—you name it. Kids unapologetically brighten up the world and lighten up the Internet. And I’m glad they do.
Just the same, I could understand why my friend might avoid Facebook like the Gaza Strip. It was a constant assault on her deepest pain. Everyone else has what she doesn’t have. And it hurts.
It wasn’t Facebook’s fault exactly; deep down—deep, deep down—the problem was jealousy. I don’t know what it is about jealousy, but we do not want to call it that. I suspect jealously has worn more nametags than just about any other sin.
Admit it or not, of all the people who have told me they quit Facebook and of all the reasons they have given, I suspect that jealousy is the one unnamed deactivator of many an account.
Because other peoples’ lives tend to be perfect on Facebook. I confess there have been times I clicked through someone else’s photos and thought, She has everything: she’s beautiful, married to a good man, wonderful kids, nice house, nice vacations… and eventually closed the screen with an overwhelming sense of discontentment. My life stinks…
I’ve struggled with jealousy. It has chewed me up then spit me out in worthless chunks like a redneck, tobacco, and a country road. In fact, there have been full weeks—months—years—when the only times I wasn’t struggling with jealousy was when I had given up completely. It can still ruin a good day quicker than my alarm clock.
I know I’m not alone. I remember times when two of my friends confessed to me that they were jealous of me. I wanted to laugh. But they were serious. These were painful confessions for them.
I wanted to laugh because both came at particularly low times for me. I knew if they really, truly knew my life, they would be anxious to take their own set of troubles and go home. If they knew the tears I cried, the pressures I faced, and the mistakes I’ve made, they would probably be whistling on their way to work—thank God, I’m not her!
And when it comes right down to it, I wouldn’t trade with them either. Not even with the gorgeous girls with successful husbands and adorable kids. Not the movie stars; not the world-class musicians; not even the ice skaters.
There will always be someone out there—probably on the edges of my circle of friends—who is prettier, funnier, nicer, smarter, richer, and just happier than me. They will be young and interesting when I’m old and boring. They will be available when I am tied up. They will think of the right thing to say when words have failed my completely. They will make friends when I can’t even make hot chocolate.
But now that perfect girl is affecting me less.
I have a wonderful life. In fact, I am richly blessed beyond what I can ever deserve.
But that is beside the point.
The point is that I am learning the truth about jealousy. If you are jealous of someone, you either don’t know them well enough or you haven’t known them long enough. The fact is, their life either has troubles or will have troubles. Serious troubles. And unless they have chosen an attitude of gratitude, they probably think their life stinks too.
On the other side of your jealousy is a hurting, confused, lonely, and even scared girl that you just don’t know yet.
I thank God that even though I will always struggle, I’m coming to the realization that jealousy is me believing the lie that I would be happier if my life were different; when in reality it would only be…well…different. In the process, God has freed me to see Facebook as God’s brag book—budding romances, happy families, new opportunities, God’s creation, and, of course, God’s amazing gift of new lives in small packages. As friend after friend has gotten married and had kids, I’ve been able to genuinely say, “I’m so happy for you!” Because I am.
Just the same, if it causes you to stumble, or if you just don’t like it, there is no harm in staying away from Facebook. And unless you are truly ready for war, this would be a good time to stay out of the Gaza Strip.