Instagram. Love it or hate it, there is something strangely addictive about the scroll down through people’s lives. The bird's eye view of carefully curated coffee cups, glamorous holiday pics, the perfectly filtered photos of nights out, mouth-watering dinners, natural wonders, friends, lovers. I’ll admit it, I am a devoted grammer, am not impartial to the odd selfie, and can easily spend (more than) a few minutes tinkering and filtering my shots to 'perfection.'
But these moments captured on Instagram, Facebook, snapchat and whatever wonderful new app is coming our way to allow us to communicate our lives in EVEN more fine detail, only tell part of the story. How many people do you see posting 'the one where I’ve just finished a blazing row with my partner’, 'that dark night where I’m crying my eyes out and feeling utterly alone’ or 'the one where I'm still struggling with that addiction'. Not quite so easy to whack a filter on that one to make it palatable, acceptable, #instagood.
Life is messy. In this, we have a choice. To embrace and accept the original, raw version of our lives or to try and live to maintain the filtered version. For years I did that and it was exhausting. Trying to maintain a facade of perfection when internally I didn't really value or love the true version that lay behind. The more I tried to keep whacking the filter on, the more I actually robbed myself of the opportunity to truly feel, love and grow. I'm definitely still learning and growing in that, but I'm fully convinced that the more I say "no filter" when it comes to God and people, the more I actually move to truly accept myself, flaws and all.
I take a lot of comfort from King David, the only one who God called 'a man after His own heart'. His life was, arguably, a serious of hot messes. After he had committed adultery and then had his mistress' husband murdered (it's worth taking a little minute to actually let that sink in), he pens one of his most gut-honest songs to God, crying ‘create in me a pure heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit in me'. Even in the midst of his brokeness and shame, David invites God into His chaos and asks for His grace and love to transform him. In that moment, all he can offer to God is 'a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent]' (Psalm 51:17 AMP).
How incredible that even this kind of sacrifice is acceptable and welcomed by our God. That His grace extends so much further than any sin we can ever commit, any shortcoming we might feel we have, any weakness we feel cripples us. The love of Father God always enables us to move forwards, to be transformed more into His image and to move 'from glory to glory'. With God, we never have to 'PR' our life or present our best, most beautifully filtered version of ourselves for Him to find us acceptable. He knows us. He accepts us. Period. No filter.
For me, this truth is what has always compelled me to worship. Finding a safe place with God where I can totally be myself and know I will never be rejected, judged, shamed. The fact that I can stand in God’s presence, 100% loved and accepted, not based on my merit or my ability to please Him, but pleasing to Him by the very fact that I’m His daughter who He chose to love before I was even aware of Him…what other response is there but to adore Him and let my guard down?
So, I encourage you all, keep up the instagramming if it makes you happy, and dare to be real with yourself and God, inviting him into the reality of your life and letting yourself be known by Him. Out of that place, life, love and freedom will flow.
Photo of the beautiful Amy Barton
Article first published on The Collective