I am not a fan of selfies… mainly, because I am horrible at them.
It’s so much pressure to capture the selfie-worthy-moments of life… you know the ones: me eating a salad because health is important, me putting on my seatbelt because safety first, me laughing with a group of my girlfriends because that’s what girls like to photograph these days to symbolize sisterhood, me reading my Bible and journaling because it’s all about Jesus, me making duck-face into the camera because people need to know I am a girl who is fun and edgy.
Not only am I responsible to document these memories for the masses, now I have to be camera ready at a moment’s notice. Once upon a time I could hang out with my friends or run errands in my sweatpants. I miss those days. Thanks to the invention of the impromptu selfie I now have to leave the house looking ready to grace the cover of a Free People catalog because you never know when someone is going to pull out their iPhone and their selfie stick.
But alas, this is the world we live in. And it was time for me to improve my selfie game. Therefore, I did what most people do when they need to learn something. I went to YouTube. In my attempt to once and for all master the selfie, I did a YouTube search looking for a tutorial on how to take the perfect selfie. I found over 239,000 different videos on the subject. I wish I were making this up.
I’m not trying to read too much into this, but it seems like we could have a real issue on our hands if 239,000 different people thought what the world really needed were some tips on how to take better selfies.
Perhaps there is more going on here than a mere love for photography.
Perhaps this selfie obsession is really a heart admission.
Here’s how it goes for most of us: We take a photo of ourselves with the right angle, the right filter added, and the right comment underneath that makes us sound just the right amount of interesting… And we go on with our day, until about an hour has passed and we are waiting in line, sitting on a bus, or bored at work and need a quick break. Then, with secret giddy delight we see how many people liked our photo and who left the best comments. If we have reached a desirable amount of feedback from our ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, we leave satisfied and even reassured that we are indeed cool people. But if for some reason our post did not evoke quite the response we had imagined, well, we are not only disappointed, but also left to wonder what we need to do differently to get noticed.
And so goes the weekly, for many daily ritual of the selfie generation. We are posing, we are posting, we are tagging, we are commenting all in a secret hope to reinvent ourselves into whatever will get the most likes.
It seems we are on the hunt for the perfect selfie AND the perfect self. Which leads to the question: what is the perfect self?
Well, the perfect selfie is the one we look great in, we feel great in, and that makes people envy us. And that right there is what many would also call a perfect life- we look great, we feel great and people want to be us.
I’m not going to lie; that life sounds pretty awesome. ANNND…. If I’m being completely honest, it also sounds a bit shallow. Are looking great, feeling great, and being envied really the ultimate pursuits we could have in life?
Are the people who pursue this type of perfect self the great contributors of the world? If they are, then why isn’t world poverty being eradicated and school systems around the world improving and wars ceasing and racism becoming a non-issue? If the secret to success were pursuing a perfect self, than wouldn’t our world be a much better place by now?
And not just our world, but wouldn’t our own souls be genuinely at peace? Once we’ve earned everyone’s approval, wouldn’t we have finally gained our own? Wouldn’t we be able to wake up each morning, look ourselves in the mirror and enjoy who we see, completely free of anxiety, insecurity, guilt and shame? We look the part, we act the part, people like what they see of us; so shouldn’t we like ourselves by now?
I have found that the more I focus on myself the less I actually know myself… the more I question myself, the more I look to others for some sort of thumbs up to affirm I’m being the most likeable version of me I can be. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the more I try to find myself, the more I lose myself. And something tells me I’m not alone.
Jesus put it this way, “Whoever seeks to find his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
No amount of clicks and likes can lead to the sense of worth we are grasping for. No comment can once and for all rid us of our self-doubts or cure us of our insecurities. And no new amount of followers can lead us down a path of self-discovery.
Chasing after the perfect self is like running on a treadmill expecting to travel on foot to another destination. Regardless of how much energy we exert we aren’t getting anywhere.
Jesus offers us a solution though. We can find ourselves. Our true identity awaits us… on the other side of our abandonment of the selfie struggle. When we are willing to let go of our pursuit of the perfect self in exchange for the pursuit of the Perfect God, well, oddly enough, that’s when we actually start to figure out who we are and what matters in life.
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, it is worth saying: God is God, and we are not. God has it all figured out, and we don’t. God is our Creator, and we are not. He is the ultimate Designer of Destiny. He did the knitting together of us in our mothers’ wombs, not us. He knows us better than us, and He knows who we were created to be better than we ever could discover apart from Him.
We don’t need ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ and ‘hearts’ to tell us who we should conform to and how we should live. People don’t get to vote on how well we are performing. This isn’t American Idol. If we want to discover whom we really are and how to best spend our lives than we need to seek out the One that manufactured us in the first place.
I need time with my Creator. So do you. I don’t need to look to see how many Facebook friends and Twitter followers I have to know if my life is headed in the right direction. I’m not looking for a following. I’m looking to be led by the Spirit of God. I don’t need to read over comments on my pages and posts to know if I am important. I need to read over God’s Word to know my true value. I don’t need to compare my life to someone else’s Instagram feed to know if I’m successful. I’m not trying to live just as happy and exciting lives as the people I follow on social media. Let’s be real, everyone only posts the good stuff anyway, (including myself; the world is not ready to see my ‘no-makeup, just-woke-up, bedhead, bad-breath-selfie’) so why would that even be an accurate measurement for comparison?
But before you wonder if I am about to completely abandon technology and live in an Amish farming community (if you are Amish and reading this, please do not take offense. I quite admire your faith and resilience. I mean, you love Jesus, and you make your own soap! That’s pretty remarkable, and for someone like me, a miracle equivalent to God parting the Rea Sea!) I’m not about to delete my Facebook page, my Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope accounts, nor am I advocating that for you. And you may even see an occasional selfie come from my feed.
But I refuse to live with the selfie mentality. I don’t want my life to be absorbed in how I look and how many people like me today. I don’t want to be so self-consumed that I miss out on opportunities to hear from Heaven who I am and how I can make this world a better place. And I want the same for you. Self-focused people don’t change the world. Selfless people do.
So let’s be those selfless people free from a selfie state of mind.