Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Comparison: The Dangers of Facebook

Welp, you've read the title. Need I say more? Thanks for checking out this blog, have a great day everyone!!!

Okay just kidding:) I actually do have more to say on this topic. I have wanted to sort out my thoughts on this issue for awhile now, but somehow it always gets bumped back on the priority list. Today, I really feel the need to get it out.

I am amazed at how many comments I get on or about facebook that go something like this: "You guys are so cute in your pictures, you seem to have a great marriage!" "I love stalking your pictures, you guys make everything look so cool and fun!" "You are just so gorgeous, I'm jealous!" Just to name a few.

Seriously, these compliments are incredibly humbling to receive EVERY SINGLE TIME. If only that's all it took to make me a secure and confident person, I'd be all set. But truthfully, I still battle daily with insecurity, and there's no way I'm going to display those areas of my life on facebook! On that note, there's a few things you should probably know:

1) Just because we "look great" in our pictures, doesn't mean our marriage is picture perfect. It's amazing how many people think we are living a fairy tale because our photos have incredible quality, we're wearing our best smiles, and the colors are rich and bright! There are only about five people in my life who truly know the ins and outs of our marriage to make an accurate guess of how it's really going because of deep conversations they've had with us...not because of the photos they saw on facebook. HOWEVER, I wouldn't ever put anything on facebook that isn't true, and when I say I'm loving life and marriage with my husband Cameron Duane Sprinkle, you better believe I'm telling the truth. We have been so blessed in this marriage, and as hard as it is sometimes, it truly is a blessing and a gift how much we love each other and how well we compliment each other in life and ministry.

2) We may make everything look cool and fun in our pictures, but remember this: we are professional photographers. I do this for a living. Our photography equipment is probably worth more than our car. If our pictures didn't look cool and fun, I'd probably not be very good at my job.

3) An insecure girl like me really does appreciate any positive comment I get on facebook about my looks. I mean, who doesn't like to hear that?? However, notice that all of my profile pictures just happen to be photos where my hair is completely done, I have make up on, and I'm probably striking a pose or smile that I consider to be flattering on me. Notice, that I DON'T put up photos that show me how I am in my current state. Sitting at my computer in my baggy sweats, my hair up in a bun, and no make up. Really glad you all can't see me right now.

Goodness, I hope you're still reading. How Debbie Downer were those three points??!

The reason I felt the need to address this is simply to bring to light the common struggle I have noticed in myself to compare myself to other people's Facebook profiles. Facebook allows us to share with people the part of our lives that we choose, and we can make it look as good as we want. Lucky for me as a professional photographer, I can make it look pretty good.

Of course I'm not going to post statuses about how frustrated I am after my argument with my husband about how we can't seem to understand each other very well. Actually I've seen quite a few people do just this, however, I like to stay positive as much as possible on Facebook so I personally choose not to. I'm also not going to change my profile picture to one of me with puffy red eyes after an emotional break down crying session. And I have to remind myself: most of my facebook friends probably wouldn't either.

So when I'm feeling defeated after stepping off the scale, I probably shouldn't get on facebook and look at gorgeous photos of my "thin" friends eating a burger thinking how easy life must be for them. When I'm stressed out and insecure about work, I definitely shouldn't get on my fellow photographer's pages and look at how "organized" and "simple" it seems to be for them. I'm not even a mom yet, but I can't imagine how this comparison battle intensifies when kids come into the picture. To Moms on Facebook, remember...your other Mom facebook friends aren't going to post photos of themselves with bags under their eyes after they slept only an hour and a half while their kid cried all night. But the photo of their cute kid doing that amazingly complicated pinterest craft?? That's definitely getting posted.

Hear me say this, there is nothing wrong with posting great photos of yourself, cute pictures of your kids, statuses about how blessed you are and how great your husband is. You better believe I plan to continue doing ALL of that:) But we need to remember that comparing ourselves to others is dangerous and harmful, and if we aren't careful, Facebook can just intensify this crazy battle.

The relational extrovert that I am, I truly enjoy Facebook. But as I keep up with old friends and check out what's going on in their lives, I have to keep in mind that they're probably not going to post anything I wouldn't. And as great as they look, or as awesome as their life seems, or as cute as their kids are, I can't let my worth and view of myself be determined by comparing myself to what they're choosing to post on Facebook. Nor do I want anyone to do that with me. None of us have perfect lives, but we are each worth MUCH more than can be shown on a Facebook profile.

Let's keep Facebook what it's supposed to be: a social networking site that gives us a way to keep up with friends, NOT a standard for living that constantly reminds us of everything we aren't doing well enough.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Modesty: A Pursuit of Holiness

Over the course of my short life so far, modesty is an issue that has gone from being something I could care less about as a 15-year-old, to something I hated at 18 because of how it negatively affected my "stylish" wardrobe, and then on to being something that as a young married woman at 25, I am deeply passionate about. I have wrestled through nearly every stage with this issue.

I believe so deeply in growing as a disciple of Christ and bringing other women along with me. And because of that passion, I can't put off addressing this issue of modesty any longer. We are right in the middle of spring break season and my facebook feed is continuously filling up with photos of my really tan, scantily clad facebook girlfriends living it up on some beach. Guess who else's facebook is filling up with the same images? 

My husband's.

Please don't think this blog is coming from a defensive wife who thinks that a little smack down blog post is gonna convict every female on facebook to not post swimsuit pictures. :) It's so much deeper than that. Over the years as I have been convicted to take a deep hard look at this issue within myself, I am forced to challenge those women in my life who claim to be followers of Christ but fail to conceal what is only meant for the eyes of their current or future husbands.

I have had a lifelong battle with caring way too much what others think of me. So naturally in high school I gave in when the culture I was living in told me that a two-piece bikini that leaves almost nothing to the imagination is completely okay if you're laying out in the sun or swimming. I believed it when it told me that tight shorts and small shirts were okay if you're working out. Less clothes the better really.

And as I've gotten older and attend weddings as my job, I've seen that some of the most radiant and strong Christian women I know believe the lie that it's okay to show a little cleavage on your wedding day if that's how the dress is supposed to look. The guy staring at you up front is about to be your husband anyway, so it's okay. Nevermind all the other men in the room. 

I have a wonderful father, a close relationship with my brother, I'm married now, and I love nothing more than asking these wonderful men in my life a million questions and picking their brain apart about this modesty issue. Nevermind those celebrity magazines and their "What are guys really thinking?" crap...I have the real stuff and would love nothing more than to share it with you, ladies:)

Just the other day my husband's good friend told him that he is dreading spring and summer because of the way women dress. Between work, facebook, or simply going to the grocery store, it can be a non-stop battle for the men in our life during those hot summer days when we are simply just trying to stay cool. My brother eventually deleted his facebook account for a couple years just because those seemingly harmless photos posted by his girl friends had turned his facebook into something more harmful than beneficial. I'm proud of him for doing something that bold to protect himself. Women love to dress up to even just go to church, and sadly the place where men go to worship and focus on Christ is hardly a safe haven from the physical temptation that we as sisters in Christ are not careful enough to prevent.

It's really easy for us to want to complain. And justify that it's too hard to find a shirt that fits just right and covers everything. "It's just the style now." "There are no longer shorts." "Modest swimsuits cost more money." "The modest stuff doesn't look as cute." Some women are more blessed in some areas than others and it's just "too hard" to take those extra measures. 

I couldn't agree more. It's so not fair. 

But it's also not fair that men are so much more stimulated by what they see than we are and they can't control what we wear. Only we can. 

As women who are following Christ, I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to stand out in this world and be a light to those I'm around. To pour Christ's love into other women. For the people I encounter daily to really see Christ in me. That is truly the cry of my heart. I hope it's yours too.

But to dress in a way that barely covers what is meant to be seen in private by our spouses draws little if any attention to Christ. We're not here to be sexy, we're here to be like Jesus.

I'm not writing this to harshly judge anyone. I'm writing because I believe more women who claim to follow Christ and pursue His holiness need to be reminded that dressing modestly is just another part of that process. They aren't separate.

And to the one or two men that might possibly still be reading this: please don't be afraid to tell us the harsh truth that we need to hear to protect YOU. We won't get it until you tell us.

Unfortunately, the idea of modesty has been made into something that is boring, old-fashioned, and legalistic. But I want to challenge each of us Christ-following women to view it as a part of pursuing holiness. To view it as OUR choice.

Modesty is the mark of a woman who knows where beauty really comes from. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Rare Woman

I am currently in a Bible study with a group of women from our church going through Beth Moore's study of Esther.'s really hitting home to where I'm at right now. Beth Moore talks about how it's tough being a woman in another woman's shadow. It's amazing how big of a struggle insecurity is for women. My heart is heavy once again about this issue and I had to get out my thoughts. I thought about writing a song, but.....I already did that:-) (If you haven't heard it, check it out here: Time for another blog instead:)

This study of Esther talks about all the beauty treatment women had to go through before being presented to the King for him to choose who he wanted as queen. It was basically just a beauty contest. Somehow Esther stood out as a woman who not only found favor in the King's eyes, but also in everyone she met. Including all the other women she was surrounded with. In the work book, Beth says this: "You and I both know that a rare woman indeed is beautiful from a male perspective and favored by other women. Females tend to be highly threatened by a woman admired by men. A woman who can win the man and her female peers is in a class almost by herself." That really made me think. Beth later asked what qualities Esther must have had to be this kind of rare woman. I started thinking of women I know who are not only gorgeous, but who I also look up to and respect. What qualities do they have? Humility. Gentleness. A servant's heart. Depth. Character. 

Of course I had to ask I have all those? Every girl wants to feel attractive. Desired. Now that I'm married, I really want my husband to feel that way about me. And because he tells me I'm beautiful several times nearly every day (no joke:-), I know that I'm beautiful to him. But for some reason, deep inside my sinful heart, it's the favor of women that I find myself striving for. Which is why this particular portion of this study struck a deep chord within me. Yes, of course I want to be attractive to my husband. I will always work towards that. But I also way too deeply desire to be that rare woman in a class almost by herself. To be beautiful, AND have those qualities that other women admire. 

Once I got married two years ago, I gained some weight that has made me more insecure than I've ever been in my life. After a rough first year of change, the loneliness of living in a brand new town, and a job that literally sucked the life out of a me, food became my comfort. As a result, these last two years have been an intense battle with insecurity, and finding out what I do and should let define me. It's been sobering to find out what I let define me on a daily basis. God has smacked me across the face with harsh truth more than once and tonight has been no exception.

As I was going through this study, I found myself getting caught up in each of those qualities I listed previously about the kind of woman I desire to be. Beautiful. Humble. Gentle. A servant. There is nothing wrong with desiring to be those things. However, tonight I caught myself in the act of desiring those things for the wrong motives. I long to be those things to gain the approval of other women. I no longer need to impress any other man than my husband, but I find that the way I dress and look is based more on what other women might think of me than what my husband thinks of me. I want to lose weight to fit in with the women around me more than I want to lose weight to be attractive to my husband. 


I have always struggled with being a people pleaser. But a people pleaser with an insecurity complex? What a dangerous combination. I know that not every woman has had these same experiences or struggles, but I know that more have than would care to admit it. It's a difficult thing to come to terms with. It's embarrassing actually. But as I have realized that insecurity is just another form of pride, I am broken at the thought of everything I have let get in the way of my desire to just be Christ-like. I have been so insecure that I can't get over myself enough to let Christ be my identity. 

I am just so thankful for the power of the Holy Spirit in my life to convict the ugliness in me. To show me my true heart's desires so that I can bring them to light and be changed. Yes, I still want to lose some weight. Yes, I am still going to wear make-up and fix my hair. And yes. I still love shopping for cool clothes. But every once in awhile I need a harsh heart-check. Tonight God gave me one: 

How I look, or act, or serve, or dress, or talk, or sing doesn't matter if it's not so completely obvious that Jesus Christ is the love of my life and the only one I am living to please. Less of me so that there can be more of Him.

Now that's a rare woman. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I-69: The Story of My Life

I always love when God takes simple, every day things that I deal with all the time, and refreshingly reveals something completely new to me. A couple months ago, I was driving home from my friend Sarah’s house in Fort Wayne headed back to Noblesville nearly two hours away. Being a very sentimental person (that’s an understatement), I found myself on a mental journey back through my past as I passed exit after exit that reminded me of a significant time period in my life. Never before had I really noticed this during all the times I have driven down I-69, but this time was different, and it was hard not to get caught up in the emotion of all that I was able to remember about the special places each exit led to.
Let me give you a quick recap of my life down I-69:
Exit 96: Zanesville. The little town that housed nearly all of my best friends in High School. The group of people that I spent nearly every summer evening with there hold a special place in my heart. 
Exit 86: Norwell High School. Home schooler or not, Norwell was my school. I might be the only 25-year-old who still misses High School sometimes, but that’s the honest truth. I’m so thankful for the great group of people I met at Norwell and got to do life with during that crazy and confusing time.
Exit 78: Home. Need I say more? Home is everything. It’s where I grew up until I moved to college. It’s my family. It’s the house my baby sister was born in 21 years ago. There’s no place like it.
Exit 64: Indiana Wesleyan. This is where I spent my first year as a college student. I was young, nervous, broken, and vulnerable, and this school welcomed me with open arms. It was a refreshing year for me and I’m thankful for that time I was given to figure out who I was as a student, as a woman, and as a Christian.
Exit 59: Kokomo. Not too far from Indiana Wesleyan. Who knew this town that I had only visited once to get my nose pierced on a whim in college would be the town where I would marry my husband and start a new phase of my life as a wife. What a blessing my husband has been in my life. Not only does the entire Sprinkle family and some of our best friends still live there, but Kokomo will always hold sweet memories for us.
Exit 41: Ball State. Wow. Such a huge part of why I am who I am today. I experienced so much heartache there. So much change. So much breakthrough. I met several of the best friends I’ll ever have there. I met my husband there. I got a degree. I learned what I’m passionate about. God took me to new levels in my relationship with Him. What a valuable and precious time those years were.
Exit 34: Oneighty. The exit I now take weekly to get to Union Chapel and the 180 building in Muncie. Not only did this church play a huge part in my life during my time in college there, but over the last seven months I have been able to pursue my calling and my ministry on a deeper level as an Associate Youth Pastor there. At age 25 I had my “dream job.” What a blessing that has been.
Exit 10: Noblesville. Whew. What a ride. This is my stop. After some bumpy years, God led us here. To Genesis Church where my husband is the Creative Arts Director. I now own a business called CarisDesign where we specialize in photography and cinematography. I love our apartment. I love our community. I love our church. I know this exit may not be our stop forever, but for however long he has us here I will be so thankful.
Looking back through each stop off of I-69, I can’t help but get emotional. That’s just how I’m wired. However, rather than get caught up in the sentimentality of things that are permanently over, I look at the way God has been so faithful in leading me to the next “exit” where He needed to allow that place and those circumstances to grow and shape me. It was hard, and not all of my memories at each stop are pleasant. Some still hurt. But rather than focus on each “exit” and each memory, I somehow was able to drive two hours down I-69 and get a glimpse of the bigger picture. Glancing at each exit as I passed it, I saw God’s fingerprints all over that time in my life. Thank you, Jesus, for your redemptive work in my life. And thank you for highway I-69.