on instagram & contentment

A new friend recently recommended I check out some podcasts by Judah Smith, one of her favorite pastoral leaders. I made a mental note and later added it to “the list” on a memo pad in my phone. 

For whatever reason, I kept thinking about her suggestion and finally got around to looking him up a little over a week later.  As I browsed his relatively lengthy collection on iTunes, the title of one caught my eye – “Instagram Isn’t Real“.

Hmm, that’s different for a Christian sermon topic, I thought.  {double-click}

I started listening…ok fine, I started half-listening as the background to some intermittent email checking, Facebook scrolling, tweeting, pinning, and more double-tapping…on Instagram. 

Then I heard him say, 

“Social media is not aiding our efforts for contentment. – Want to know how to increase your attractiveness? Increase your contentment.”

Suddenly, I  x’ed out of at least 5 tabs, was zeroed in listening, and started taking notes. 

But wait-don’t get me wrong. I am a Strategic Communications student currently studying social and digital media. I’m not planning to fully “unplug” any time soon and I don’t think these mediums are bad or ruining society. Thankfully, that wasn’t the point of Smith’s message either. 

His message was on c o n t e n t m e n t.

You know the feeling, I know the feeling, we a l l know the feeling. You’re having a great day and then out of nowhere you’re grumbling under your breath thinking: “Oh great-you got a promotion? I’ve only been working my tail off for 2 years.” “Really?? You’re in Bali…again?” “Psh, I’d travel the world too if my dad was a BILLIONAIRE.” “Oh come on, no one is that tan all the time. How many filters did you use, dude?” “Seriously, they’re already having their second honeymoon…wait, what is that–they’re pregnant again, too??”

UGHHH, IS THIS REAL LIFE!?

No, it’s not. That’s miserable.

It’s easy to get sucked in and most of us keep coming back to our feeds, feeling all the more restless each time we leave them. We want all the stuff we *think* everyone else has. We are literally feeding ourselves with wanting and lusting.

But the thing with getting stuff, is you just want more stuff.

“Contentment, biblically speaking, means that you are s e t t l e d. Not that you settle, but that you are settled in heart and mind. That all you pursue and do comes from a settled soul, which allows you to discover enjoyment in *every* circumstance you’re in.”

What I do love about Instagram is its intention for “in the moment” sharing–hence the “insta” part. Yea sure, we all throw up the occasional “#tbt” & “#latergram” photo, but the app is really meant for images to be posted as they’re happening.  That’s what makes them relevant and connected.

The beauty of a photo is its ability to capture the now, allowing us to reflect on it later. The really cool thing about filtering and photo editing, is that it allows you to remember it as you experienced it. To create your expression of it. In all its clarity, sharpness, and pure saturation. It’s an art form.

Brannan

Just as our faith is an art-form, too.

“You don’t have tomorrow and your can’t recover yesterday. Be settled and contented today. Realize what you do have–and know it’s not the cars, the yachts, and every extra square foot of housing. You brought nothing into this world, and you’re taking nothing out.

Know that God doesn’t condemn anyone with riches. What he rebukes is a lust for riches. It’s the preoccupation of it; not the riches itself.

Just as the problem isn’t Instagram, it’s in our obsession of it.

What He really wants us to discover is the wealth found in contentment. 

And contentment comes as a package deal to Godliness which sounds like a big, scary, intimidating, and taboo word.

Yet Godliness simply means to be “God aware“; to be aware of the one and true God which affords you the riches of a settled soul.

“Don’t ever underestimate the power of God awareness–the ability to acknowledge and be conscious of God’s immediate presence in whatever circumstance you find.”

People go to church, claiming they love the sensation, they love “the vibes”.

There’s something about the songs, the preaching, the background music, the lighting, the prayer.

Why do we do it? God awareness. 

To make us more attuned to His constant presence.

In our plugged-in, always-on culture, there’s no doubting we’re self aware, we’re you aware, we’re stuff aware, we’re lack aware, we’re performance aware.

Think about it, we’re more aware of our *perceived* prayer incompetencies, than the God we’re praying to.

“Contentment is the ability to be more God-aware than anything else.”

So when you find yourself incessantly scrolling & starting to grumble, just remember: there’s ‘haves’, there’s ‘have nots’…

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and if not, He is still good. {daniel 3:18}

 

Be a proponent for the here & now.

K.V

*check out Smith’s full podcast and lots others, here. thanks to @judahsmith and my girl friend for inspiring this post.

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