Watching cartoons is one of my guilty pleasures. I love how principles of good and evil are represented by wicked queens, kings or any form of villain Walt Disney so desires.
One of my all-time favourite classic Disney cartoon is Snow White, the story about a princess who was poisoned (through an apple) by her wicked step-mother (the wicked queen) because she was envious of her Snow White’s beauty. Prior to the wicked queen poisoning Snow white’s apple, the wicked queen was fond of going to her magic mirror and asking, “Mirror mirror on the wall whose the fairest of them all?”. To this, the magic mirror replies you “You my queen are still the fairest of them all”.This continued until Snow White’s 18th birthday when the wicked queen learnt the bitter truth that Snow White had now become ‘fairest of them all’. Engulfed with rage and envy, she poisons Snow White with an apple.
Isn’t it funny how we often can get too self-obsessed and without realising it, we become the wicked queen who is in constant need of self-validation and self-worth from her magic mirror. However, for us, our magic mirror becomes some of the coolest inventions of the 21st century (i.e) the social media to be more precise. So Facebook, Instagram, Blackberry, WatsApp e.t.c. all become the ‘mirror’ thorough which we strive for perfection, validation and fulfilment. Hence, the number of ‘likes’, ‘followers’, ”contacts’ or the amount of comments ultimately become the standard through which we measure our personal successes and failures.
While it can be fun taking pictures and posting them unto our timelines when things are going well, it can open one up to the green-eyed monster of jealousy and envy when things aren’t going so well. Slowly, we begin to compare ourselves and measure our life through the ‘picture perfect’ display and ‘hashtags’ of love, happiness and success of our followers or those on our timelines. Gradually, we begin to sink into a state of despair and depression because we feel the grass is greener on the other side.
But even if it is, what is it to us as Christian believers? Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth writes:
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise… Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.” (2 Cor 10: 12, 17 & 18).
I personally take a cue from this verse each time my mind starts to wonder towards comparing my life on the basis of someone’s social media updates bearing in mind that such action will be foolish of me. As the bible warns that comparing oneself with another person is foolishness. Aside from this, comparing oneself to another also rubs us of resting in the finished works of Christ and the His perfect plans for our lives.
My question to you reading this is: as believers in Christ, how and through whose eyes do we daily project ourselves? Whose validation are we most conscious of? How have we being measuring our successes and achievements? How caught up are we with the ‘picture perfect’ life we all get served daily on the different social media platforms we are signed up to? If for a second we are to be honest with ourselves, to what extent have we given such platforms the power to direct our actions, emotions and self-worth?
Truth be told, living by the standard of men or through the reflection of others does more harm than good. This is because it can be mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining as we daily try to keep up the charade. So why do we, as believers, even bother?
2nd Peter 1: 3-4 admonishes us that “[God] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life … Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”.
So, if indeed we believe that God has given us his ‘great and precious promises’, then why do we constantly allow ourselves to be sucked into a self-centred and life-comparison world? Why do we fail to guard our hearts from actions that sometimes consume our joy and peace? Kudos to you, if you are already conscious of this fact and therefore practice selective exposure. But if you are like me, I would say, I have my good, bad and ugly days.
Nevertheless, I think we all owe it to ourselves to take a cue from Apostle Paul’s teaching of not comparing and commending ourselves to human standards. To achieve these, below are four principles we ought to be mindful of in order to stay grounded on such days when we are tempted to walk in the shoes of the wicked queen.
- Know who we are in Christ Jesus (Genesis 1: 26-27; Ps 139)
- Have a sense of God’s purpose for our lives (Ephesians 2: 7-10)
- Rest in the finished work of Christ through the Grace He has given us to accomplish His will on earth (Romans 5:1-2, Eph 4:7).
- Focus on attaining the highest form of approval and commendation that can only come from God ( 1 Corinthians 4: 1-5 & 2 Corinthians 10:18)
Please feel free to share your thoughts…we would love to hear from you.