Facebook is my frenemy. I love keeping up with friends from high school and friends across the globe, but I hate how quickly social media can expose my insecurities. I’m annoyed that other people went to Hawaii and didn’t invite me. I’m frustrated that there are moms who have personalized Pottery Barn lunch boxes for their four children and “I’m a big sister” shirts for those anticipating a new sibling. Facebook always makes us feel a little left out, a little unsuccessful, a little less pretty than we might normally feel. We face the temptation to become discontent with our own lives. And I don’t understand why I would continually expose myself to an unnecessary source of self-doubt.
It enlightens me to how tethered I still am to a world of opinions that don’t really matter. At 32, I’m still tangled in a culture-web that wants to dominate and control. I find myself saying yes to these awful invitations to compete for love and affirmation and approval. Why on earth would I run and run and run in a race that doesn’t even matter?
Maybe its because even though I’m running in a race that I can’t win, I’m still running. Maybe I’m afraid if I stop moving then I’ll have to deal with the real insecurities, not just the kind that pop up on the sidebar of Facebook, but the kind that are killing my soul. When we run and run and run to please the god of peer pressure, we never face the things that are keeping us from flying.
And I want to fly. I want to find freedom from the need to perform and the drive to be recognized.
I think Mother Teresa knew how to fly. She probably didn’t care if people thought her Zumba classes were challenging or whether or not she was included in the small group at her church. She didn’t care if her legs didn’t look like they did in high school or that she couldn’t find the right eye cream to fix the natural aging process. She didn’t idolize youth or beauty or money or fame. She wasn’t famous for her wealth or her education or her productivity—she was ultimately known for being untethered. She had walked away from the chains of a world that can’t give us what we really need.
What do we really want from life? What do we want to say about our lives in a year or two?
Often we think the key to attaining goals is working harder to achieve. But maybe the way to become who we want to be requires that we first untie ourselves from the oppressive expectations we’ve taken on.
Maybe we stop running the race of self-absorption and performance and instead we start flying.
Chains can’t be broken as long as we choose to see ourselves through the lens of humanity or failure or success. We must be willing to see ourselves as those created and belonging to God. It has to matter more to us what God has said about us than the other voices screaming directions and demands.
Being untethered also requires that we become self-giving. We seem to think success and a full life is found in preserving ourselves. We want to be efficient—using the least amount of resources in order to protect what we have. We don’t want to expend time unless it reaps a measurable goal. We work to get paid or we love to get loved. But Paul in Philippians points us to a different goal—the goal of knowing Christ. And this goal has as its root freedom. Freedom to stop worrying about the relationship between investment and return. Freedom to live a life that matters regardless of how recognized we are.
Imagine what it would be like if we could hear the invitation to compete in a race of insecurity and say no. And instead, we give ourselves to people who can’t give back. What if, when we entered a room, we were more concerned about who we could love then who would notice us?
We find flight in being present to others and ourselves, even in the dark places that need the transformative hand of God. We find flight when we love the people we want to ostracize. We become untethered as it begins to matter less to us how we look and it begins to matter more to us how Jesus loves. We become untethered as we pick up God’s vision for the world instead of our own. A vision where reconciliation becomes more important than winning and forgiveness is more important than producing.
Running is not the problem. It’s what I’m running towards. It’s what I’m running for. And maybe, if I stop long enough to face what’s holding me back, I’ll find out that I’d much rather fly.