I harbor a lot of envy for my peers who have already started their own families. I’m talking hardcore Instagram and Facebook stalking of wedding and pregnancy photo shoots. It would sound so creepy if I didn’t know so many people do something similar. Like looking at your ex’s social media account to check out his/her new girlfriend/boyfriend or simply to find out if they have one. Isn’t it weird how we do things that make us feel worse about ourselves? Social media makes that so easy, doesn’t it? Why do we do this? We know it’s going to hurt. But we can’t help it.
Looking at these posts about family make me yearn for something I don’t yet have. I hope and pray some day that I will. Maybe I feel like I can get a little piece of their joy vicariously through looking at their posts. But whenever I do this stalking stuff, a tiny voice in my head whispers to me that God thinks this time in my life, the single pre-husband pre-kids time, is SO instrumental and valuable. He wants to use this time to encourage me and support me as I grow into the woman He created me to be. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I am leaning into that hardcore. I’m gaining invaluable career experience in LA and challenging myself to step into leadership roles at work and in the community. I’m learning with trial and error how to manage my money and plan for my financial future. I’m learning about marriage BEFORE I’m in one, studying the incredible gift that God intended it to be for us. I’m traveling the world, chasing my wanderlust, pursuing my passions, and challenging my creative capacities. Yet, every moment I spend lusting over someone else’s story could be invested into my own.
All of my current pursuits are valuable and challenging me to grow. But I think there’s something about prioritizing family that resonates more with my soul than other life priorities (career, passion pursuit, etc). Because when your sole job is to take care of your family, the most important thing you can do is love your family deeply and unconditionally, and let every single decision come from love (even discipline). Love is the closest thing on earth we have to God. Love is the most intimate and accessible way we can connect to our Heavenly Father. So it totally makes sense that the most important thing we can do on this earth is to learn how to express love to one other.
Pursuing a passion through a career is a noble and respectable choice. But passion, although virtuous, can lack those most intimate, lifelong human connections that family brings us. And I think these relationships are our most ripe opportunities to exhibit and practice Godly love.
It’s difficult to look at these posts on social media, and not imagine this person to be so full of joy and their life always beautiful and exuding perfection. How can life not be perfect if all we need is love and it looks like they have that? After all, if you have a spouse and children you must know love. If things weren’t perfect, they wouldn’t be telling social media all about it.
I’m not married, but I don’t think marriage isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Neither is parenthood. That’s the really twisted thing about social media. We can post what we want and not what we don’t. We can plasticize our lives so they are bulletproof. So only the good, fun, beautiful, joyful stuff is visible and the hurtful, tragic, boring, embarrassing, lonely moments are not. And the constant comparison of our lives to others’ seemingly perfect ones iseroding at our self esteem.
It’s safe to say that no matter what, the grass can ALWAYS be greener. We must choose to water our own lawn. And the greatest irony of all this is that for every photo depicting marriage or family or home life that I envy, one of my peers who has chosen family is probably lusting over my photos of sun-dripping palm trees and road trips and otherwise awesome aspects of life as a single in LA!
I’m learning to lean in to the story God and I are scripting together. I trust that we are working together to craft a beautiful and meaningful narrative for my life that is entirely my own, and as long as I continue to trust Him with everything in my life, He will reward me for it. I hope that one day I can experience all of the things I want to experience in this life, including marriage and family, but learning to find joy and love even if I don’t or even can’t.Marriage and children aren’t guarantees for anyone. Some people don’t ever find someone they want to commit the rest of their life to, and aren’t willing to settle. And, obviously, not every woman is able to conceive children. I sure as heck am not exempt from those possibilities.
A sound heart is the life of the body,
but envy rots the bones.
Proverbs 14:30 (KJV)
The words in this verse are crucial. In the original Hebrew, the word “sound” translates to “marpe‘” or healthy. The lack of envy is a sound heart, or a healthy heart. An envious heart rots the bones. Envy is unhealthy for the body and soul.
The original word for rot in Hebrew, raqab, stays true to its meaning in English – to decay over time. Envy causes our bones (our souls) to decay. The damage that envy has on our hearts isn’t instantaneous. It slowly eats away at us. Rot happens when you neglect something. Rot is the opposite of life. Like rotting fruit; it’s neglected. Not taken care of. We are not taking care of our souls by harboring envy.
We can fight envy by choosing peace and gratitude. Being grateful and content for what we have, and where we’re at in our journey. We need to choose it every single day. Because every day a new thing or post will come up that will cultivate envy in us if we aren’t careful. And like envy, building a heart of gratitude something that happens slowly. When we look at our lives and realize with mindfulness that we are choosing the life we live and investing in our own stories. And slowly, over time, our once rotting hearts will begin to feel full.