A threat to a good summer

Ah, summer. What good memories I have. The Price is Right at 10 am, lying on the couch, imagining what it would feel like to get to spin the big wheel, make it to Showcase Showdown, and meet Bob Barker. After some lazy television time, I might wander outside for a bit, and then lunch might be a frozen pizza or bologna sandwich. The afternoon would usually involve fun bike rides up and down the street with my brothers and friends.

We made so many brilliant memories and had a great time. What we didn’t have was Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. While we lied on the couch watching television, my mom didn’t check Facebook and see that everyone else had their kids enrolled in an all-day creativity camp or were taking some great trip to the zoo. When we ate our bologna sandwiches and cheese puffs, my mom didn’t have pictures on Instagram of her kids’ friends eating celery sticks, carrots, and cherry tomatoes alongside a nice turkey and lettuce wrap – on a whole wheat tortilla. What has happened to our nice enjoyable relaxing summer?

Darn Facebook. You are ruining my summer life. YOU are the problem.

Or are you?

The question to ask, really, is where’s the source of the problem? Maybe it’s social media. Without a doubt social media heightens the sense of the comparison game. We are doing just fine, enjoying life, until we see on our Facebook feed someone else doing something more intentional, more fun, or just better than we are.

But really, is that the problem? Our parents didn’t have social media, but I am pretty sure they did still have the comparison game. The problem isn’t Facebook or Instagram. It’s our hearts. We start with our heart because that’s where the problem starts.

The problem with the comparison game is that no matter how we play it, we lose. We may play it and feel like we’re doing better than other people with our summer. Look at all the fun, significant ways we’re spending our time. We end up self-righteous, making ourselves acceptable by what we do (especially what we do better than others). Or we play it and feel like we’re doing worse than other people. We condemn ourselves because our summers don’t measure up.

The answer is not to play the comparison game. The answer, and it’s not a cliché, is the gospel. The gospel proclaims that Christ has accepted me, despite all the great ways or the awful ways I spend my summer. He’s my righteousness – it’s not about what I do. He took my condemnation – it’s not about what I don’t do. How my kids and I spend our summer isn’t what makes us acceptable or unacceptable. Only the gospel can do that.

Which isn’t to say that our summer doesn’t matter. But it puts it in a different context. Our summer isn’t about how we measure up against our friends. It’s a way to rest and work, and to do all of it for Christ. There’s a place for cheese puffs and carrot sticks, for the Price is Right and serving at the Salvation Army. We can have both, because the summer isn’t the place to save us or condemn us.

So how should we avoid playing the comparison game on social media this summer? It depends on where our hearts are. Maybe not comparing means taking a break from social media. The Bible is clear that we’re to flee temptation. And there are times for all of us that temptation is strong, and the wise thing is to avoid it. Maybe it means reading and seeing what other people are doing with their summer and being able to rejoice with them in the fun they’re having. Maybe it means posting about our summer in a balanced, realistic way, showing a full sense of how the summer goes, and encouraging people in that way. Whatever our strategy, living the summer well means believing the gospel in a genuine way, which is true, no matter what the season.

One Comment

  1. Beidget Kevin-Myers said:

    What a great and timely reminder. Thanks Erin!

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