Two nights ago I went through all of my Instagram posts and edited the captions of pictures that I was physically present in where I had applied a filter. The captions are now prefaced with *this picture has a filter applied*.
My intention with this is to remind people that what they see on social media is not always an accurate depiction of reality. My skin is not as flawless in real-life as the “swipe-right a couple of times” filter makes it, and I most certainly do not have freckles like that cute Snapchat filter lets me have (but I WISH I did!)
Have you ever experienced immediate disappointment after the filter comes off? That maybe you’re not as flawless as it made you look? Well, I sure have.
The filters come off and my eyes suddenly aren’t as big, my complexion isn’t as clear or smooth, my face shape has changed, and let’s be real – that takes a toll on us mentally and emotionally whether we recognize it or not. I fear that when the filters come off and we look in our mirrors, we don’t like the reflection that we see. I fear that we choose to live in a bubble of satisfying our yearnings to feel beautiful and attractive by relying on built-in features on a downloadable app that is making someone very, very rich.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I LOVE social media. I love that it’s an amazing avenue for sharing knowledge, creativity, artistry, and who we are. I love that people are stepping up and using these platforms for movements, making a change, advocating for what they’re passionate about, and creating community. I’m even more thankful for the men and women all over the world who are boldly and unapologetically proclaiming the Gospel on social media. People who are stepping up and taking a stand, and who are unashamed to identify themselves as Christ-followers in such a public way.
The same thing that can cause so much discouragement, hurt, comparison, insecurity, and discontentment can also be used to do so much encouraging, healing, supporting, uplifting, and community-building. It’s all in how you choose to use it, and how you choose to let it use you.
I am becoming increasingly passionate about realness, in-person but especially on social media. I’ve been working hard on establishing an Instagram newsfeed that actually feeds me, rather than one that sucks the life out of me. It’s unfollowing the people who aren’t real, who edit and photoshop and make no effort to connect with their followers – and then following people who speak truth into my life and encourage me with their words. How cool is it that through social media we don’t even have to know a person to be impacted and built-up by what they’re saying and who they’re being? I just love that.
In light of all of this, I have made a few commitments on social media, which I’ll be posting about soon (so stay tuned!) But in the meantime, I want to tie this all in to International Women’s Day.
I’ve started an ongoing exercise of going through scripture and picking out the words that God uses to tell us who we are. Loved ones, this is the most life-giving thing I have EVER done. Within two nights I have over 100 words identified. Adjectives like beloved, chosen, redeemed, justified, ALIVE in Christ, lavished in grace, created with PURPOSE, forgiven, appointed, called, delivered, saved, made NEW, and set free (to name a few).
In doing this, God has been laying on my heart this very thought:
If we started to really immerse ourselves in the reality of who God has made us to be, if we began to turn to Scripture to see our worth and our value, how much more free and impactful lives would we live? What if we began to filter ourselves through Scripture instead of our social media accounts? How much more would we fall in love with God and be compelled to live radically for Him because of how He sees and loves us.
I get chills just thinking about how drastically this would change our lives. I think about young girls and boys, and how damaging social media can be to their hearts and minds. The more and more I dwell on what social media has done to our standard of beauty and self-worth, the more I want to shout from the rooftops that YOU are SO much more than the likes you get and the comments you receive. You are more than the aesthetic of your Instagram feed, you are more than the amount of guys/girls that message you after you post a picture, you are MORE.
Remember all those words I listed up there ^^^^ ? Yeah, that wasn’t even HALF of my working list and yet they’re enough to fuel me through this life. Friends, how awesome is God for making a way for us to identify with and as those words.
I want to encourage ya’ll with this. On this International Women’s Day, I want for us to see that we will make the most impact on this earth when we identify ourselves by what God has called us to be, rather than what the world often tells us we are. We do not have to push men down to build ourselves up, nor do we have to prove ourselves. He has called us to important and specific kingdom-building work in a variety of ways.
Proverbs 31 tells us more about ‘the woman who fears the Lord’ – and these are a few points paraphrased:
- she is trusted/trustworthy
- she does good, not harm
- she is willing/works willingly
- she goes the extra distance to provide for others
- she rises when others don’t/aren’t willing (often when it’s dark and difficult)
- she provides and portions for others
- she is intentional with her money and fruitful with her purchases
- she dresses herself with strength
- she makes her arms strong so as to help others
- she make sacrifices in order to provide for and bless others
- she opens her hand to the poor and needy
- she is clothed with strength and dignity
- she laughs without fear of the future
- she speaks wisely and teaches kindness
- she is respected and blessed
- she does not prioritize or worry about charm and beauty, but she fears the Lord
- she is content with the fruit of her labour, which speaks volumes about her
Isn’t that convicting? To the treasured and loved women who may be reading this – I pray that we would see and understand the unique and purpose-filled call and design God has placed on our lives. I pray that we would see our work on this earth as a gift, and as the blessing that it is. When I read Proverbs 31, I don’t see my role as a woman as “less-than”. I see it as a high calling to be a woman who loves God first and foremost, who is full of integrity, compassion, selflessness, kindness, and generosity; who is a hard-worker, a diligent teacher, and a seeker of wisdom and truth. I see it as the call to be fearless, bold, courageous, and content.
Most of all, when I read Proverbs 31, I think to myself “that’s exactly the kind of woman I desire to be.” One of my favourite points is that she doesn’t think highly of charm or beauty, but she dresses herself in strength and dignity. I love the picture that paints.
In light of talking about filters earlier and then comparing that concept to Proverbs 31, it’s a beautiful difference isn’t it? It’s a life-changing thing when we take away the filters, show up for those around us in real and authentic ways, and uplift one another. This looks different for everyone, which is why it’s never about competition, but completely about building each other up and engaging in community.
My prayer is that we would strip away the filters and live in the calling God has set out for us. No matter the career, the dream, the desire, the passion – you have a God-given and God-designed purpose, and I can’t wait to support you along the way.
I mentioned earlier that I love seeing other people/brands/organizations making an impact on social media, so here are some of my FAVS to follow:
- AERIE – Aerie is by far my most favourite brand. They do not retouch any of their models and they are so great at empowering women to be confident and REAL. The shirt that I’m wearing in the picture attached to this post is a limited edition Aerie t-shirt and all proceeds (up to $25,000) from it go to NEDA, an organization dedicated to supporting those affected by eating disorders.
- Jenna Kutcher – Oh how I love her. She is so authentic, real, and incredibly informative on branding, marketing, and being a goal digger (hence her Goal Digger Podcast). Highly recommended on all levels!
- Natalie Franke – I am so encouraged every day by Natalie’s content and her vulnerability on social media. She courageously shares her journey as she recently had a brain tumour removed. It’s genuinely inspiring to follow her. Also, she founded the Rising Tide Society which is doing amazing community-building work.
- Jess Connolly – An incredible author and woman of God. Her posts are deep and reflective, and often encourage me with scripture throughout the day. Her insight always make an impact on me.
- Desiring God – Always posting incredible articles, valuable education, and Biblical encouragement that we often need. Their ability to take a common topic and totally transform your view and understanding of it is truly God at work!