12-point bucks. Festive kitchens or decorations. Caribbean vacations. Professional photos of big rocks on fingers and newly engaged couples making out in front of a barn somewhere.
Yep. Holiday social media is here.
Sometimes it seems like it’s got something to push everyone’s envy buttons. Somehow, even seeing a Pinterest-worthy Christmas lights extravaganze that outdoes yours can feel like a putdown. Not for me, but for some it can, and hey, I’m not gonna judge. We all have our quirks.
It’s not hard to understand why some dread this month.
But this season doesn’t have to be a train of helpless coveting delivered right to your phone. There is a huge opportunity here for us Christians, to let this month actually strengthen us.
Our discipleship is a series of choices. Swift, blink-and-you-miss-them decisions in which options are presented and paths chosen before we even know it. When our Facebook feed ambushes us by showing something we don’t have, our hearts are confronted with a choice – “feel bad” or “do something about it” – and I used to make the first choice without even realizing the whole exchange was taking place. Our hearts and minds just work so fast.
Which brings us to envy. Envy is kind of like being out of shape. The only thing that’s going to stop it is, well, stopping it. There’s no magic pill to gain muscle or lose weight, and there’s no change in outward circumstances that will ever leave us truly satisfied. We’ll always want more. Right up until the day we enter heaven.
In the meantime, I discovered some time ago that I can either let envy wash over me whenever it randomly pleases and steal my joy, or start steeling myself against it.
Use Facebook for envy workouts.
Every time you’re scrolling your feed and see someone else celebrating something you don’t have, jump into prayer right at that moment. Don’t just run with feelings. Give your heart to God. Renounce envy. Ask him for his strength and love. Celebrate with the person you’re looking at. Over and over, every time, vigorously and full-mindedly.
That is the Christian life. A noble, intentional, relentless striving deeper into God.
You’d be amazed at how many hard moments are the emotional equivalent of the bully with a glass chin. Thank God for the victory God has brought me simply by teaching me to breathe in and choose being okay. Sometimes hardship does break through and I have to really run to God. But sometimes we can choose to be okay, and it’s possible because we have gotten in those moments through many repetitions. Faith, peace, contentment, purity, love…they all take practice. But the more we work, the easier it will be next time. Every victory makes the next one easier.
Flex those muscles this week. I’ll be your spotter in prayer.