Over the past several months, I have experienced a lot of headaches. I’ve begged God for healing, but instead, I’ve been ushered into a season of waiting. During these seasons, I tend to compare myself to those around me. I look around and wonder what I’m doing wrong and why I’m still waiting, when it seems no one else is.
One day I was lying in bed, mindlessly scrolling through the pages of Instagram on my phone, and my inner dialogue echoed in my ears. “Wow, look at her, you will never be that driven…you will never look like that…your family could never look that put together…you are not that smart…you will never work out that consistently.…” My conscious mind was unaware of the messages I was digesting as my finger continued to scroll through the images on my phone.
After running out of ammunition on Instagram, I jumped to Facebook and the same thoughts continued. “Why bother continuing with your writing… you’ll never get published on that blog…you just need to write like that…” I finally decided to shut my phone off, but wondered why I felt so defeated.
I had reached a low point. I would wake in the morning and instantly want to go back to bed. Just the thought of starting my day was paralyzing. I would read God’s word, but those words would not, could not, sink into my soul. My soul became fixated on the negative inner dialogue that had been going on inside my head for the past few weeks. I’d pray, but my mind would wander back to that dialogue.
I attempted to numb my soul as a way to cope with the growing sadness that lingered in my heart. In my sadness, I turned to social media on my phone. But instead of my mood improving, it seemed to get worse. Yet I kept going back. I was addicted to the negative voice inside my head. When I could no longer hear that dialogue, I’d look to my phone again to feed my addiction.
One night while my husband was at a business event, I took a bath and let the bubbles soak into my skin. After lying there for a while, I turned on my worship playlist on my phone. As the music sank into my soul, I began to weep. I sobbed, as if trying to expunge all the sadness out of my soul. After what felt like twenty minutes, I got out and dried off, feeling heavier and sadder than before the night began.
The following day, I struggled with the same negative inner dialogue and feeling of defeat. After another sobbing session, I did what I felt I should have done days earlier…I deleted all social media apps from my phone. We were going on vacation the next day, and I didn’t want to spend it feeding my insecurities.
It felt like I went through withdrawl the first few days, because I could no longer feed my inner dialogue with fresh comparisons. But I knew I had done what my soul so desperately needed. As we drove hundreds of miles, I sat in silence and took in God’s beautiful creation around me. I listened to my worship playlist, started reading a book by my favorite author, and enjoyed easy conversation with my husband. I would turn my phone on out of habit, but I quickly learned there was nothing of interest there now that my phone was free of social media apps.
As the week went on, I noticed new patterns forming. I turned to the Bible app on my phone the first thing in the morning. For the first time in months, I read and comprehended Scripture. I actually wanted to read a non-fiction book by my favorite author instead of numbing my soul through TV or a fiction book. I enjoyed the moments of inner silence as I laid in the sun by the pool, enjoying the simpler days vacation offered.
Once we returned from vacation, the speed of life increased dramatically. I visited Facebook and Instagram occasionally on my computer to keep up with some online groups I’m involved with. I have yet to reinstall social media apps on my phone, because though the negative inner dialogue has quieted, I still don’t feel strong enough to engage in the comparison battle.
The extra space left by the void of social media has been filled with God’s word and messages of hope. Slowly, my soul feels renewed and restored.
Do I think everyone should delete social media from their phones? No…that’s not what I’m saying. I felt it was the step I needed, because I was looking for anything to confirm what I already felt – that I was never going to be good enough.
Since I’ve taken this step, my circumstances have not changed. I am still waiting for healing and I still tend to compare. But now, I am more aware of when I get caught in a comparison trap.
If you find yourself in a season of waiting or constantly comparing yourself to others, I encourage you to stop looking horizontally across your life. Look up and you will see the One that can sustain you through any season. He may not change your circumstances, but He will give you the strength you need. He will speak life and hope into your soul and remind you that only His opinion matters.
You may not need to remove social media from your life. But I pray you can keep your gaze vertical and take the necessary steps to minimize your horizontal gaze of comparison. Look to the One who created you and keep only His words in your mind.
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us… ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the LORD.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the LORD commends.” 2 Corinthians 10:12, 13, 17, 18