I’ve been in a very hard place lately, and usually that’s something I wouldn’t openly admit on social media.
A lot of times when people post about depression or anxiety or any other struggles that are beyond what seems “appropriate” for discussing on the internet, it’s seen as a cry for attention — I’m guilty of viewing people’s vulnerability on social media that way sometimes too.
Social media can be a very dark place. For so many, it is a breeding ground for issues of self-esteem, comparison, addiction… you name it. And when life is really hard and we’re struggling to make it through those tough seasons, being on social media can be very discouraging because of how deceptive it can be. Lately, I’ve been getting on my social media accounts and all I see are perfectly filtered pictures of people living what seem to be exciting and happy lives and I think, “why does it seem like everyone has it together except for me?”
“Why am I struggling so hard to understand what the Lord’s will for my life is and what he is going to bring out of my confusing and painful situation when it seems like everyone else has it figured out?”
“Why does it seem like I’m the only person who is struggling to make it through some days without crying and is battling feelings of depression and anxiety on a daily basis?”
Sometimes those feelings can turn hateful. I’ve caught myself wondering why so and so gets to be so happy when “they probably aren’t even in the word as much as I have been” and “I’m sure they haven’t been praying like I have for God to show them His will for their life, but here they are so happy and here I am still struggling despite how consistently I’m seeking the Lord.”
I think about all of these things and I get so discouraged, but then I look at me. I’m sure if I wasn’t sitting here writing a post like this for everyone to see, people would assume I was just as happy as could be too.
Social media can make us feel like we are alone in our struggles, because according to what we see online, everyone else is doing great! We use our platforms online as a mask to make ourselves appear to have it all together, and I feel like that is doing so many people — including ourselves — a disservice.
When God created us, he knew that we would struggle. He intended for us to struggle. We were never meant to just sit back and expect to have completely comfortable, happy lives. The difficult things we go through all have a purpose, and I think we forget about that a lot. Maybe that’s why we try to hide the less than perfect areas of our lives from the social media world.
Social media gives us an amazing opportunity to be a light, either by sharing our own stories to receive comfort and encouragement, or by being there for others who are going through hard times similar to ones that we have been through. God wants us to use our hard seasons to cling to him and to learn, so that we can grow and use our stories to encourage others. I feel like so often we waste the opportunity God has given us to connect with others through social media. However, throughout the past couple months, I’ve been able to talk with people who actually have taken advantage of that opportunity to be vulnerable online. Thank God for that, because I have been able to receive encouragement, wisdom, and prayer that I would not have found otherwise, and I know my mindset would be very different right now if it weren’t for the people I have been able to talk to over the past couple months.
I’m thankful for the way the Lord has been speaking to me lately, and I’m so thankful that he has used social media as a way to do that. I’m also thankful for the people who chose to share their stories where I could read them, because it’s shown me that I’m not alone and it has allowed me to connect with new people who have been able to walk with me through a very difficult time.
Seeing how the Lord has used others to be an encouragement to me shows me that I can be used by God to be an encouragement in other people’s lives as well. I know my pain has purpose, so I don’t want to keep what I go through to myself.