"Are you going to take pictures of it for your blog?"
We're standing in the kitchen and I'm cleaning up the last bits of deep purple jam spills on the stove. My oldest daughter is standing, admiring the jars lined up to cool under the southern window, jewel-tones shining in the August sun. I set down the dishcloth and lean against the counter.
Last week, I went camping without a camera. It was an odd feeling and at times I wondered if I was "missing" the moments by not snapping pictures of them. Of course, I wasn't. I was living them instead. Life has changed a lot in the past few years, and one of the biggest ways I see is how everything must be immediately documented and shared. I buy into it just like everyone else. Like the whole "if a tree falls in a forest" analogy, it begs the question - if a Mama makes jam out of blueberries she picked and doesn't photograph it to instantly share, did it even happen?
In such a short time, the world has revamped how we live and, in some ways, changed why we live the way we do. The constant sharing and proving ourselves worthy to others feels flat to me, and I struggle to put my finger on why, exactly. After all, I love peeking into the lives of my friends, liking their shares and posting pictures of my most recent creations. There's certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with it...is there?
I was raised by a woman of strength and confidence, certain of her worth and largely unconcerned with the opinions of others. She was simply too busy with the work of real life, raising 7 children, schooling, helping her husband's business and striving to live by God's standards. She never once instagrammed a cup of tea she made. She never once took a selfie. She never once tweeted about how many times she woke up at night with her toddler. She was real, she was strong, she was sure. She worked hard, loved fiercely, and lived her life as an act of worship.
It often seems our quest for acceptance and approval has us doubting ourselves more. We know we give others only a glimpse of our lives but we measure ourselves against mere glimpses of theirs, guiltily sure that the perfection we perceive is pervasive. We are peer-dependent long into adulthood, and we adhere labels to ourselves to try and keep up. Defining ourselves by what we do only serves to cheapen the truth of who we are. We are more than a collection of labels. We are more than the names we give ourselves. "Homeschool Mom." "Natural Parent." "Minimalist." "Professional."
Our lives were meant to be lived out in a daily practice of giving glory to God, blessing others by showcasing the fullness of His grace. In the instant gratification world of sharing and (sometimes) over-sharing handpicked moments of our lives that put us in the best light, that can fall by the wayside. There's no guarantee of grace in seeking the approval of others. You can give and give and come right out empty. But in giving it right back to Him? You're always, always filled.
Real womanhood isn't found in instagram photos or the number of likes on a tweet. It's found in the strength of the knowledge of daily grace, the embracing and practicing of gratitude and the humility of handing it all over to God. That's it. Not in how often you get a pedicure. Not in how many kids you have. Not in the last time you remodeled your kitchen. And not at all in whether or not you lose that last 5 lbs from your last baby.
The secret to living in the beautiful fullness that God has for every woman, you don't need to make jam. You don't need to feed the kids organic produce, or bust through the glass ceiling at work. You don't need to lose that baby weight and you don't need to plant a garden. The secret is to know that your worth is abundantly more than anyone earthside could ever quantify. And the only thing you need to do to claim it? Live each day as an outpouring of gratitude and praise to the One who made you.
When you do? The whole world will see you shine.
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