When you take a quick scan through social media, it’s a quick way for you to be reminded of what you don’t have.
I first heard the phrase “house porn” in reference to the beautiful homes one sees on social media that are totally perfect, bright, and open. No matter that often times these photographed rooms are totally edited, unrealistic, or completely nonfunctional for the average family.
The same can be said for blogs/vloggers/Instagram that focus on some couple or family traveling the globe to these exotic places, posing unnaturally (really–who poses like that in front of the pyramids?) and looking totally gorgeous and ethereal.
We look at the couple exotically traveling and we feel inadequate with our trip to the nearby lake for spring break.
We look at the perfect house that is a replica of Chip & Joanna’s home, and suddenly our cozy living room feels like a dumpster fire.
We see the amazing bodies, the perfect cars, the curated #clean #vegan #keto meals and suddenly feel less than.
Less than what? I don’t know. But just not good enough. Not working enough. Not enough money. Just not enough. And it paralyzes us.
King Solomon reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). It’s true, there is nothing new under the sun, and that is especially true when it comes to comparing ourselves to others. Don’t assume that the desire to have your house look just like Chip & Joanna’s instead of what you have is a new thing. That’s been happening since the beginning of time.
Our culture tells us that in order to be happy (or feel satisfied) we need something.
Consumerism insists that in order to have fun, we have to buy things. That we have to pay the “entrance fee” enjoy life’s experiences. Culture tell us that we must get more to do more.
We often fall into the trap of thinking “When I have, then I will”.
When I have a nice house, then I’ll entertain.
When get a better job, then I’ll be more generous.
When I have vacation time, then I’ll hang out with my kids.
Being intentional with experiences instead of consuming is a choice. These things don’t happen to us by accident, and we can’t wait for some sort of magic moment for them to happen, or they never will.
If it is something that truly matters to us, we don’t wait to do it.
We entertain in our 500 sq foot studio apartment.
We give generously even when it hurts.
We hang out with our kids at night instead of vegging out in front of our device.
In my prior posts, I laid out here (#1) and here (#2) why we love to travel. What it means for our family. Why it’s a priority for us. The things we give up in order to make it happen. In essence, we value experiences more than material things.
For you, it may not mean travel. For your family, it may not mean homeschooling. It may not mean owning a home. It may not mean working more to have more, to buy more, to go more places.
What it does means is that we make a choice to make memories. To be with our people.
While we are busy chasing after some idolized Instagram ideal of what life should look like, we miss out on the moments that make life.
Let me make my point clear. People are the point. Not stuff. Not trips. Not our culture’s ideals and priorities.
So whether the moments of life are filled with card games at the kitchen table with friends, hikes up Machu Piccu with the love of your life, or taking walks through your neighborhood, do it with intention. Don’t let life pass you by while you chase some imaginary goal or dream that social media tells you is important.
For our family, for this time, we are trying to travel, to help our kids become globally minded. We are making very intentional choices to make that happen. But that will end someday.
Our kids will grow up.
Our health may not allow us to travel.
Our jobs and budget will, at some point (whether we like it or not), change.
We travel while we can, but it isn’t our idol.
If our life is wrapped up in waiting for the next thing, for some sort of perfect moment or experience, we will be left unsatisfied.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I always fall back on what he says. And he tells me that, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Jesus is the only one that can fill my longing and emptiness. Not experiences. Not stuff.
I also look at the way Jesus led his life.
He led it with very little. His life was surrounded by people. He was intentional with every moment of every day. People were the priority.
May you spend your years being intentional with your choices of how you consume, how you love, how you live. No matter what that looks like for you, may you do it with contentment and joy, not comparing yourself to others. Rather than being distracted by things, I hope we all make choices that will have a lasting impact.