We’re all familiar with the phrase, “things aren’t what they seem.” Last week I saw a friend post a bright, positive and beaming photo on instagram. I thought to myself “Ah so glad ____’s business is going so well. She looks so happy!” I love seeing people succeed and thrive.
An hour later this same friend called me up utterly broken up and in tears over some heartbreaking things in her life that day. Everything was unraveling, and I had assumed just from one happy instance shared, that her life was hunky dory at that moment. That call reminded me, we never truly know what’s going on behind the scenes.
It’s easy to think someone has a perfect life. Especially when their Instagram posts are nothing but grinning pictures of them with perfectly coiffed hair, dressed in the latest fashion trends, in some edgy or unique part of the city, or an scene/exotic place in nature. (I am always wondering HOW do people seem to have a perfect photographer constantly on hand!? It’s like- hang on I thought you were on a solo trip in the mountains? Does everyone just carry around a picture-taking drone wherever they go? So many mysterious. Anyhow, I digress.)
When Charles left the dinner table last week, a friend who was visiting said “So what’s wrong wth him? Is he perfect- I mean does the man have any faults?” I laughed and said “Of course! But if you are asking me to divulge my husband’s weaknesses, ya got the wrong girl.”
I didn’t mind the question, as he was just trying to be kind. But I know my first job as a wife is to be a protector, a safe place- not someone who exposes weakness and shame. But I also see the HUGE tendency for people to view each other with rose colored glasses. Maybe that’s why I want live transparently, texting my best friends when I’m down or have hit a wall, or ‘fessing up to a tough argument Charles and I have had. I want to live in the light, so that no one is disillusioned by my positive glimpses of our lives on social media. To live authentically, we have to be honest.
That said, there is a difference between living honestly and constantly word-vomiting or venting every time we so much as spill hot coffee on a clean shirt. I want to always choose joy, even while “keeping it real.” But instead of taking something at face value, maybe we should be willing to look a little deeper, or just check in. Ask, “How are things really?” or “I love that empire you are building – but how is your SOUL?” More than they want to hide, people want to be known and cared about.
To do that we have to stop judging/assessing people based on what we see. Truth: WE DON’T HAVE THE WHOLE STORY. Yes I might have just posted a video of my daughter chasing leaves at the park, but it doesn’t mean I’m running around giggling in the sunshine the whole day. Or that I’m slacking off and “vacationing” constantly. You didn’t see me sweeping the kitchen floor for the 3rd time today. Every time I go for a run, or sit at my computer and work my butt off for hours at a time, I don’t always share that. I may not post about those moments I am grumpy toward my husband, or the way I slipped and said a swear word in front of the baby, or when I failed to pick up a wrapper simply because I was carrying 50 things and was running 15 minutes late. LIFE IS MESSY.
We have a tendency to share only the beautiful moments. But maybe, just all the happy picturesque things we post aren’t done with the intention to deceive. Perhaps we aren’t trying to make YOU jealous, or rub a happy moment in anyone’s face… nor are we trying to fake perfection. Sometimes life looks magical, but that simple post you see might be nothing more than someone’s determined act of DISCIPLINE in choosing joy. In the midst of chaos, and bitter frustrations or disappointment. Maybe that is just a reflection of how they choose to go through life, focusing on the good rather than the bad. Judge not. Assume not. Maybe reach out once in a while and let someone know, no matter what you see, or what is truly going on, that they are loved.