About a year ago I decided to give up social media.* While this isn’t the right choice for everyone, I found that I was unable to have a healthy relationship with it and was constantly comparing my life to the lives of those around me. Whenever I went on Facebook, I ended up feeling just a little worse than I did before. My family doesn’t live on a lake or take fancy vacations. My kids don’t attend private school or participate in thousands of extracurriculars. So eventually I just couldn’t look anymore. I knew in my head that I was comparing the messy mundanity of my everyday life to the highlights of other people, and that it wasn’t reality I was looking at. But my heart didn’t get the memo.
Fast forward to this week when I decided to update our family photo albums. I pulled the first book from the pile, flipped it open, and immediately got swept away. I pored over memories of apple picking, swimming in lakes, museum outings, birthday parties, and just us all at home being goofy together. I watched my daughters as they grew, their faces losing baby cheeks and front teeth. Memories of an everyday life that I so often took for granted, and moments that I would not trade for any of the grandiose, pixelated adventures of my Facebook acquaintances.
As I look back at the last year, I want to make sure I don’t miss the highlights and I don’t want you to either. Maybe you had an amazing year and it’s easy for you to find the blessing and joy in it. If that’s the case, I’m truly happy for you. But maybe the past year was really hard. Perhaps it’s difficult to find anything worth celebrating in a year that seemed dead-set on knocking you flat. If that is you, I’m so sorry. I’ve been there. I remember getting so overwhelmed that I literally ripped up a calendar because I had so much hatred for what that year had brought. And in that moment I had no highlight reel. But looking back now…
… that was the year friends became family.
…that was the year I grew closer to God than I had ever been.
…that was the year I learned how to stand on my own two feet and fiercely fight for myself and the people I love.
I needed prayer and lots of time to see the beauty that came with the trauma of the worst year of my life. But it was there, just waiting to be acknowledged. This is a lesson I find myself needing to learn time and time again as I get swept up in tidal waves of “if only” and “what if”. And I don’t think I’m alone in the temptation to think that way. But to do so is to ignore the incredible gifts right in front of me.
Blessings come even when we are being blinded by the glare off other people’s gifts. They come even when it is too dark for us to see them. I love the verse in Psalms that says, “…weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5). It might take time and effort, sometimes lots of both, but don’t miss your highlights. The morning is coming. And it is my prayer that 2023 shines bright for you and I both.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5
*I have since had to reactivate my account for communication with my nursing school classmates, but this is only temporary and I look forward to the day I can press that “deactivate” button again!