You’re reading these words because you know something has gone wrong.
Social media in our society has become an unprecedented, unparalleled trap. It is not all bad, of course. There are great things that happen through those platforms that we couldn’t have imagined before they existed. The way we can effortlessly connect with people is amazing. But there is a cost — a grave price we pay. The problem isn’t really with Instagram, or any other particular app, the problem is actually inside of us. Every single person wants to be happy. We crave joy. And all of us want to know that our life means something. We want to know that we matter and that we aren’t just using up air.
This is all good, and it’s right for us to feel this way. The problem comes when we are caught in a vicious cycle created through the exposure to fake, perfect worlds of edited feeds and incomplete stories— cycles of seeking validation from people who don’t know us.
It feels so good to be affirmed.
When we dare to open up and display what we think or feel, the things we like, or the way we look, and people like it; it gives a sense of value or meaning that makes us happy… for a second. The feeling is almost addictive, and that means we want more. More followers, more likes, more comments, and most of all, more affirmation. Suddenly a thousand eyes are scrutinizing our life, and that means we have to perform, push the limit, prove ourselves. We want to be honest. We want to be real, but what if people don’t like what they see? What if instead of affirmation, we meet rejection?
Now we are trapped. We are living under the constant pressure to perform and make sure that what we say, what we wear, and what we do gets us the approval we so desperately want. It’s a prison, and it feels like we threw away the key. The cycle of performance and approval will eventually snap, and it will all come crashing down on top of us. No one was meant to bear that pressure. There has to be an answer — a different way to find true affirmation and meaning in our lives.
Take a step back and get raw.
Why do you even care what people think? Who are they to evaluate and judge whether you are acceptable? As soon as you put your value in their approval, you have given someone — even trusted friends and family — too much power. We are all just people. If your joy only comes from the opinions of people, then you are already imprisoned. One end of that spectrum is blind narcissism; the other end is a life lived desperately insecure, tossed back and forth by the ever-changing preferences of those around you. The only answer is to find a different source entirely.
We have to get above the cycle of what we feel when we look in the mirror and how many likes we get on Instagram. We need a higher authority.
You are free when you know who you are and when you are accepted for who you are — when you enjoy who you are. In other words, identity is everything. The only One who can truly bestow that sense of identity that we long for is the One who created us. In Him and Him alone, we can find lasting love and acceptance so that we can enjoy who we are, regardless of what other people think about us.
The Gospel, the good news, is an invitation to be restored into relationship with the God who created us.
Through the sacrifice of Jesus, our sins can be forgiven, and we can experience the joyful acceptance of being the children our Heavenly Father. God made us for this purpose, and it’s the definitive answer to our yearning for identity. This identity is not based on what we look like, what we do, or how skilled we are. It is this knowledge, and the experience of the unconditional love of being a part of God’s family, that allows us to be free from the bondage of living for the opinions of others.
We live in a complicated world. Before we know it and without even realizing it, we can find ourselves caught in a web of false appearances and expectations that suffocates with the impossible demand to please everyone. There is an answer. You don’t have to live that way. You didn’t just randomly arrive here. A God who loves you and cares for you made you. There is no one else like you in all of the earth. Take the next step and discover your identity and purpose through Jesus. He is inviting you to live in His love — to live free.