My friend Anne is the women’s pastor at the church I attend. We go for coffee and have these really deep awesome talks about culture, raising kids, life, beauty and money….. nothing shallow here folks. We love breaking culture down and being vulnerable about how the current culture is affecting us. Anne asked me to speak at a women’s conference she was putting on last November and this is the question she wanted me to answer. In a world where having beauty and money gives you power, how has that defined you in your life? WOW, big, tough question… I spent a lot of time thinking this through, evaluating my own life and how I have changed over the last 5 years.
Beauty is something I have chased my whole life. Wanting to always make sure I was attractive, always comparing myself to others. BUT, there was always someone prettier, thinner, richer. When my mom got sick and eventually passed away, I didn’t have the emotional energy to keep up the façade of chasing this anymore. I felt smacked literally in the face by God saying you need to deal with this. You need to stop comparing yourself, you need to be enough because of who you are regardless of your appearance or how much is in your bank account. You, Lisa, need to stop chasing the values of our society. Beauty, money and status will not give you fulfillment or true power. This is when I really started the journey toward redefining how I viewed myself and life.
In university I took a degree in Communications which involved everything from debate to speech writing, but one of the things I loved most was media ecology. Media ecology is the study of media, technology and communication and how they affect human environments. My very favourite book on this was Neil Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to Death”… a prophetic book exploring the corrosive effects of electronic media on our society. The book explores what happens when politics, journalism, education and even religion become subject to the demands of entertainment.
What is most interesting is that this work was published in 1985 before we even had to contend with social media! Another great book I read during my degree was ‘Deadly Persuassion’ by Jean Kilbourne, who does a deep dive into how the media affects the way we think and feel. Her work is just as relevant today as it was when she wrote in 1999. Fast forward 25 years and what is so hard to understand is that I was “so educated” in this yet I let a little thing called social media work its way into my life and change the way I viewed myself. Look at the effect social media has had on us and our lives and how we view ourselves and others.
Perhaps we need to start being a little more responsible with what and how we are presenting ourselves….after all comparison is the thief of joy.
Let’s be honest, we all know that social media plays a huge role in feeding us different narratives about life and how we should be doing life …in my 20’s and 30’s there was no social media. We didn’t know until after the fact who had what party, what they were wearing and what vacation they were on. Now, we see it in the moment and to make it look even more enviably, with filters on.
How do we deal with this information? How do we react to what we see and the information we are being fed? How does what we put on our feed affect others and the way they view their lives? Perhaps we need to start being a little more responsible with what and how we are presenting ourselves….after all comparison is the thief of joy. I think we need to be reflective, we need to own our struggles, ask ourselves what is my relationship with beauty, money and status, how much power have I given it? I’m not talking about getting our finances in order or self-care. I mean looking at our character over beauty and money. Who we are when no one see’s? How do we treat others?
We need to prioritize our spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing overlooking superficially impressive and prioritizing having excessive money. I know this is a really tough one. For me, it is a daily discipline of intentionally taking my eyes and focus off myself and surrendering my junk to God, doing my devotions, going for a walk, asking for help when I need it and being really honest that my life is nowhere near perfect, and yet I am enough just as I am- no filters required.
I am working towards looking past myself and looking to the needs of others and loving myself for who I am right now.
My main hope for us as a community of sisters would be that we would be free from carrying these burdens and perhaps reprioritize what we define as true power in others and within ourselves.
A few things that have helped me reprioritize
- A daily discipline of not starting my day with social media but with reflection (prayer for me) and light exercise
- Giving myself a time limit of how much screen time I allow myself in a given day.
- Being reflective of when I am feeling that pull to chase things that aren’t good for me and writing them down and figuring out where my emotions are coming from.
- Doing something for someone else. Whether it is giving a text or word of encouragement, dropping off a little note … whatever it is, just taking my eyes off myself and focusing more on others.
I am currently reading this book ‘Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose’ by Rebekah Lyons who spoke at the Women’s conference I spoke at. It is so awesome. It totally describes the things that I have been trying to do more of and gives fantastic practical solutions to help us find healthy rhythms in our lives.