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.