I was on social media the other day and it happened. Again. I saw someone’s post and I was envious. You know, that “feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, quality or luck” (NOAD). Depending on the post, the thought process might be something like this: Why do they get that opportunity (or that relationship, possession, experience) and not me? Then, I look for judge-y reasons to put them down in my head: Oh, it’s only because they are related to so and so. Oh, they don’t deserve that because of this or that. If people knew how they behaved that one time when….
It’s embarrassing to confess these ugly thoughts and that they come too easily and too often. I am a competitive person, but I hide it most of the time. My competitive spirit comes out when my expectations in life aren’t “winning” and it appears someone else is “beating” me via social media. It’s nonsense when I step back, but it can easily be my knee-jerk thought process.
The truth is my life is not a competition with others. I’m on the path God has for me and I am called to be ME, not anyone else. When that ugly thought of comparison creeps in, I am learning, more slowly than I’d like to admit, to kill the competition with a prayer of joy and celebration. In other words, I am changing my thinking (another way of defining repentance), which then changes my reaction (evidence of repentance). “What a great opportunity! God, help them in this endeavor. Give them the strength and the grace to succeed. Bless them beyond their expectations.”
It takes a bit of warming up to celebrate the blessing you want that someone else receives. It’s downright hard in some cases. Why is it worth doing? Because this world needs Christians who deal with their envy instead of avoiding it. The world needs people willing to cheer others on, “rejoicing with those who rejoice” and praying for the success of others. For all the disadvantages of social media, it is one of the easiest avenues to practice this regularly. It can be a refining fire if we allow it to be.
How do you fight the comparison that social media can breed in your heart? Please share your best tools in the comments section.