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My friend Cheryl Scruggs is a wife, mom, author, podcast host, and Christian counselor. But mostly, she is a Redeemed Girl. Her transparent love for Jesus and her authentic story of finding freedom in Christ oozes through her life and ministry. Recently, I was a guest on her podcast, Thriving Beyond Belief and was struck by her Christ-centered confidence and how much she encourages and empowers other women. In an age of comparison and competition, I found Cheryl’s selfless heart extremely refreshing. It is my joy to welcome her to the Redeemed Girl Blog as she shares wisdom about taming the monster of comparison in a social media age.
–Marian Jordan Ellis
Do you have a love/hate relationship with social media? Gosh I do!
Our social media culture is affecting women more than we would like to admit and in so many different ways. Have you caught yourself struggling with envy or discouragement as you scroll through your feed? Let’s be honest, ok? Even if it’s a subconscious thing, we all struggle with comparing ourselves to others.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE social media. I have to work very hard at not being addicted (actually, I think I am!), but I love people, care about their lives, and love what I learn!
As I think about the idea of comparison, it makes me sad. Bottom line, if we are not careful, we often compare ourselves to others’ lives, looks, clothes, bodies, and work. This comparison is whittling away at our hearts, and it can be the destroyer of them, if we allow it.
But I refuse.
I refuse because God refuses. I will not allow my joy to be stolen and stomped on because of the false messages social media can portray. Not all messages are false, but the filter we personally use, and the lenses we see ourselves through, can be a catalyst to insecurity, comparison, jealousy and strife. And God loathes this.
Might I stick my neck out please? My opinion of social media, if used properly, is that it can actually be positive, that is if we refuse to allow comparison to get a foothold in our hearts.
Interestingly, I looked up the definition of comparison in the dictionary and also its antonym.
Comparison: likeness, measuring, resemblance
Antonym: conformity, copy, dissention
Such opposites. “Conformity, copying and dissension.” Those words put a frown on my face, bring me down and cause a heaviness inside of me. I’m grieved for what happens to a girl who tries to conform, copy or measure themselves by their feed.
Why is that? Because God has created each of us in a unique and wonderful way, and wants to set us free from all of this! I take God’s creation very seriously. I mean think about it for a minute. Each person is made uniquely by Him for His purposes. I mean, what an honor right? Can we stretch our minds and hearts to embrace this mindset?
I have such a heart for women and feel as though so many are not thriving in life. Thus, the reason I launched my podcast last year called Thriving Beyond Belief www.thrivingbeyondbelief.com! I want women to be free, to understand who they are in Christ spiritually, emotionally, physically, sexually, and even professionally.
My thought: We spend so much emotional, spiritual and physical energy nurturing and comparing ourselves to who we think we “should” be rather than spending time getting to know and nurture the woman God is already making! 2 Cor 5:17. God is always molding and shaping us and making all things new—-including YOU!
In order for us to thrive we must be who God created us to be … not striving to be someone else that we see on social media.
I’ve loved all of the seasons I have gone through so far in my life, and some of them have been very, very painful and hard. None of us get to escape the tough parts of life. But I have been so grateful for how God has always remained consistent and steady, helping me along….and even carrying me sometimes!
Let’s get refocused. What if we take a different spin on social media and use it to grow and mature us into who God wants us to be? I feel a bit lucky that I grew up with nothing because I was always curious about the things I didn’t know about. I’m always wanting to learn, grow, and better myself.
For instance, if I like someone’s hair, or an outfit that looks super cute on someone, or they have a talent that I’m curious about, I try to find out more or learn about what it is. Then I think about how it may or may not work for me. I desire to develop my own style and be confident in ME! I don’t want to look like someone else. I don’t want to dress like someone else. I don’t want to be someone else so I nurture and grow me and understand who God has made me!
So let’s look deeply into ourselves and ask these questions:
- Who are you comparing yourself to and why?
- What is it that you desire that you don’t have that you think will make you happy?
- You were created in God’s image, and He has an amazing purpose for you—do you have any idea what your gifts and purpose might be?
I love when women can be vulnerable, honest, and real while sharing the hard stuff about their life. I was recently interviewed on my daughter’s blog, and several of the questions I answered are very pertinent to our subject at hand. I shared with Lauren some of life staples that keep me from getting distracted and off track with social media. Without these foundational principles, I know I would be sucked into comparison and envy. These tools help me tame the comparison monster:
1. Jesus Jesus Jesus!!!
My faith in Jesus is my life! He is Life, Love and Strength. I became a Jesus follower at the age of 33 after He picked me up off the floor after a very traumatic season in my life, and He penetrated my heart at such a deep level that it’s hard to describe. I had an affair, divorced my husband, and shattered my family back in the early 90’s. But Jesus saved me from the mess and put me on the right path. It was hard work, but back in 1992, I started reading the Bible for the first time in my life…my daily routine started back then of getting up early in the morning, getting my coffee ready, sitting down in my comfy chair with my Bible and a journal. I began to find out who God was by studying His Word, journaling, and praying. It brings me to tears even now as I reflect on all He has done in me, my marriage, my family, and in my life.
Today, as I approach my 60th birthday, and 26 years later, I still do the very same thing: setting my alarm to wake up to hang out with Jesus. It is by far the richest part of my day! Hanging out with Jesus is the best medicine you can find! My Jesus time keeps me centered and confident in a world where beauty, looks, and success can steer us off course.
2. Develop Your Own Style:
Fashion, style and brands are super fun and I love lots of different ones, but honestly I think what’s important is developing your own style! I’ve done that since I was little girl. I’d study fashion, and then decide what a good look would be for me! One of my lines is “I want to grow old gracefully!” I want to dress in a classy, feminine, elegant way and never compromise being a Godly woman even in this area of my life.
3. Focus on Your Health, Not Your Size:
I have always been a health nut and love being an all-natural kind of woman—Since I can remember, I have always eaten clean (lots of veggies, nuts, grass-fed meat, pasture-raised chicken and eggs as well as wild-caught fish). Working out, taking care of my mind, as well as my spirit, and keeping abreast to understanding who God has made me spiritually, emotionally, physically, sexually and professionally, is by far a must for me. Now that I’ve gotten older it has served me well, and has been totally worth it. I feel young and vibrant even at the ripe old age of almost 60!
I want you to dig deep this week, and really ask yourself the hard questions about where you really stand with social media! When we prioritize our lives and do the work of really understanding who Jesus is and what He has done for us, we can then be free to utilize social media for what it can do to enhance our lives, not hinder them!