Female Behavior & Social Media

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The Harpy

Social media behavior fascinates me, and fortunately it’s been around just long enough that we’re starting to see the beginning of what I expect to be a long list of research opportunities on how people behave while on it.  If you’ve been a long-time reader, you’ll know I’ve been interested in why women feel the emotion envy, for awhile.  It’s probably because I’ve never really understood it.  If someone is doing a great job, or having good things happen in their life, why would another person not be happy for them?

I’ve cataloged how odd this plays out online in a few articles, like when women look down on married couples who are actually happy in their relationship and show only each other’s best sides, or when just viewing your News Feed puts you in a negative and depressed mood due to other’s happiness.    Whether you’re a wife choosing not to air your dirty laundry for the public to see, or are criticized as being “fake,” because you don’t want to embarrass your husband, or are simply perplexed to find that other people’s happiness should make you feel depressed, you’re in the right place!

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“You happily married couples can’t really be that happy (we realistic ones know you’re lying to us),

plus you make me feel bad because my marriage isn’t like that.

You’re faking it in your photos and not being “real,”

let me show you what IS real by posting negative sh-t about my husband and I publicly.”

***

When I’ve researched into who is saying things like this quote above, the women who say they secretly hate their positive facebook friends, it’s almost always women who are (self-reporting as) deeply unhappy in their own lives; many are in fact, divorced and trying to survive single-motherhood.  Of course seeing beautiful, happy families makes them feel pain and sadness… and of course seeing a good husband show his wife how much he loves her, leaves them feeling sick.  Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12), and feeling the pain of that loss, or maybe the pain of never having it at all, is normal.  It’s ok to grieve when appropriate, but it’s crucial to learn how to redirect those feelings and emotions into something positive and graceful.  Otherwise, the intense feeling of pain can quickly turn into self-pity, which then often crosses into bitterness and anger, things that leave you vulnerable to demonic strongholds.

Here is a quote from one such divorced, single mom becoming bitter over her happily married friends –

“I’m also a Michigander but moved to Connecticut in 2001 when my now ex-husband went to school here! I am like you–brutally honest. I think it’s part of our culture. And that’s why I sometimes hate Facebook! Being divorced makes me feel like a loser when I see all these “happy” couples’ pictures posted for SEVEN days in a row! It feels self-serving–like it’s validating to them. But the people are truly good and close friends, so I can’t be (but want to) be honest like you! I have a 9 year old with autism and felt like such a fake liar when I posted the Motherhood Challenge with pictures of a happy, cooperative child. Reality is that he hits me, swears, spits, and has massive meltdowns sometimes. You are right reality is not as pretty. It certainly never gets a “like” or even a “dislike” because reality is a bummer.

No one wants reality from a single mom with special needs who now lives 800 miles from her family and has to face this life on their own. So, to keep my image, I guess I play the pretty picture game too and hope that one day my true feelings won’t come out! Thanks for being honest!”

Her story is hard, and I’m sure having an autistic child IS extremely difficult and involves lots of suffering on her part.  The key is though, choosing what you focus on DOES improve even a situation as bad as that.  Look at people all throughout history who had severe mental and emotional or physical handicaps, who when their caregiver had a better mindset, they achieved much more than what doctors thought would ever be capable.  Miracles have happened with children like this, but mostly it’s only when they had a caregiver who self-sacrificed over and over and over again, giving them the gift of unconditional love and humanity.  I know it’s hard for women to hear this, but accepting the difficulties of one’s life (carrying your cross), as well as choosing not to complain about how hard you have it, IS worth trying to obtain as part of spiritual and personal growth.  Like I said above, self-pity is not good.  The bitterness it can bring from dwelling on how unfair life is opens the door to more spiritual attacks and demonic influence into your life.  Because of all this, trying to give women in positions like this, short-cut answers to their problems by saying those happy couples are “fake,” is enabling them – not helping them to deal correctly with their own problems (like having a special needs child).  The suffering they’re already going through is then compounded by their own bitterness and disappointment in life. 

Allowing themselves to become bitter over how unfair life is, or develop feelings of hostility toward their happily married friends, only makes their own lives that much harder!

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It’s Coming from Hatred & a Root of Bitterness

The argument for sharing your husband’s flaws publicly online (or flat out humiliating him) has seemed to come from a concocted desire to appear more “real” and to show all of the sides of marriage – and to show-up those wives who only post the positive things!  The problem with this rationale is that it should be socially understood that no one is perfect, that everyone may have some issues sometimes and that marriage, because it is so intricately relationship-based, obviously takes hard work.   Choosing not to show this side publicly when it could harm or humiliate your husband, but rather focus on the positive, beautiful things in life and your marriage (or about your mate), shows wisdom, self-control, and discretion.

And as far as one’s marriage goes, when you love your spouse, you don’t want to air their issues online on your social media platforms.  In a trustworthy marriage, your husband should be able to feel totally safe with what you choose to share online publicly – because he knows without a doubt, that you have his back and are making wise decisions on his behalf.   Like we learned in the Proverbs 31 series, the heart of her husband safely trusts in her, and because she is his wife, he lacks for nothing good.   When we post things that show him in a bad light, no matter how humorous or “well-intentioned,” we tell ourselves we’re being, the consequences could be damaging to his reputation, image, or even his career, which means we’re actually harming him in the long-run, and for social media “likes,” at that!

“His honor, respect and privacy must be sacrificed so she can compete with the other women by being “more real,” than the ones who post only happy and positive things about their spouses.” 

From here

But wanting to show what “real” marriages look like, as much as these women claim their goal is, is not what this is about.  I used to naively believe that was their actual intentions, but over the years it’s become more and more clear that this attitude is coming from a root of bitterness and even hatred.

“You just hit the nail on the head!

I was so irritated seeing everyone’s posts about love your marriage (from the Love Your Spouse Challenge).

Most of the time I’m irrated at my husband.

How about a hate your spouse challenge?”

-Carla Burke (from here)

Why some women act like this though, is VERY interesting to me.  Why do some feel like everyone should post negative stuff about their mate or marriage?

Because seeing others unhappy or having problems in their lives or marriages, makes these women feel better about their own selves, or about the state their marriage is currently in.  It all comes back to the emotion I’ve studied for years now, envy.

Envy is more than jealousy, it is a painful emotion of which the Bible says is like rottenness to the bones.  While jealousy may come from a valid place of wanting what rightfully should belong to you and you alone (ie: God being jealous for our love), envy is wanting what another has which you have no right to want (ie: coveting something that someone else has earned or is in possession of).  It seems to be capable of completely enveloping a person, and grows the more they focus on the object of their envy and hatred.  The cure is found first in repentance, and focusing on your own life, living in gratitude to God for the gifts He’s given to you, and then choosing to live a life that pleases Him, instead of become embittered by whatever you believe He’s withheld from you.

Beauty, Goodness, & Happiness Often Evoke Envy

All throughout time, there have been countless stories in literature (be it biblical, classical, or in nearly every fairy tale) of women who were either good/beautiful/happy and somewhat naive, and women who gave themselves over to envy over the one who was good/beautiful/happy.  There were women who displayed qualities that seemed almost irresistible to the heroic man in their life, and then the women who played the Evil Stepmother, or the Evil Queen, or the Harpy.  This is something that goes far beyond social media, because it is a heart issue… a feature, not a bug, built into humankind.

Sometimes we get glimpses into what “triggers” these women to act out of their envious behavior, like in this real life example below of a woman’s Instagram post, “making” another woman feel inferior.

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So what are reactions like this based on?

“You seem to represent an almost impossible-to-attain portrait of womanhood, and as a woman, I honestly find many of your photos unsettling.”

***

“Something about your photos makes feel strangely depressed/inadequate and I’m alarmed by my own reactions.”

It’s the beauty.  The artistic perfection… the woman’s elegance… her refinement.  It’s all the aforementioned put together that make her realize her reaction is not accounted for, or “alarming,” and worrying to her, as it should be.  It’s also this fact (that the pictures show beauty, perfection, elegance, and refinement) that makes her admit that the woman’s photos are amazing work:

“That being said, this is truly great work and I applaud your abilities.”

What a 180 right?  We just got an inside look at how emotionally tormented a woman feels when presented with someone who awakens feelings of envy.  When another woman is “outside her comfort-zone better than her” in some kind of way, it can be almost impossible for her to appreciate the beauty and goodness due to the painful or “alarming” feelings that may come up.

Even though she’s able to realize at the end of her comment that her observations are “alarming” and coming from a place of feeling depressed/inadequate, she still demands that this woman answer for why she’s “making” the commenter feel thing way, as though this artist can really control this stranger’s feelings.  It’s a normal thing for women (or men) who feel envy, to blame the object of their envy for “making” them feel that way, or “inciting” it with pictures of beauty in their life.  

“Ultimately, while people use social networks to keep in touch with friends and family, seeing those people happy often have negative effects on them.”

From research study here

But even if another woman’s pictures on social media aren’t “perfect,” just seeing other people be happy eventually may become a negative experience for women with this problem.  It doesn’t take artistic perfection, for some even seeing other moms out and happy with their kids or husband, evoke strong emotions of envy.

What is the real problem here?

Envy is literally as old as Cain, from one of the first Bible stories when he felt envy at his brother Abel’s approval by God.  Abel didn’t “make” Cain feel envious or bad about himself, Cain’s lack of self-improvement and desire to please God made his offering undesirable, and pale in comparison to Abel’s offering and disposition.

I used to feel sorry for women like this, because I know envy is a painful emotion to feel (and why not be happy for people who are happy?!?), but now I’m beginning to understand how women who don’t deal with their envy appropriately are not victims, they often know what they’re choosing and seek to place blame elsewhere to hide what they know they feel (the hatred or bitterness).  This behavior is not benign, as it tears apart the fabric of our society in a myriad of ways, harming the future of our children and grandchildren by working to dismantle social norms (think things like fat acceptance, obesity disability, welfare, hostility toward in-tact families, etc.).

If everyone engaged in envy whenever a someone does something praiseworthy or beautiful or inspiring or artistically stunning, our society would be utterly ruled by the ugliness and the decay of the miserable and self-centered.  If any attempt to be better personally – be it spiritually, mentally or physically, or create something beautiful, is squashed by miserable women who claim your attempts to better yourself makes them feel unhappy or ashamed of their own failures, then our civilization’s beauty, art, music, and literature will suffer… and it has.

When God dealt with Cain’s feelings of envy, before he murdered Abel (and there was still a chance for him to turn the situation around by making the right choices), God did not treat Cain like a victim of his own envy.  The Bible says Cain felt anger that Abel’s offering was accepted by God (and his was not), and looked dejected (he pouted).

Then the LORD said to Cain,

“Why are you furious?  And why are you dejected?  If you do right, won’t you be accepted?

But if you do not do right, sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Genesis 4:6-7

God warns Cain that he is on the brink of becoming “had” by sin, which is figuratively crouching at his door ready to overcome him.  God also commands Cain to “master it.”  This may explain why it can feel so hard for women who deal with this problem to eradicate their feelings of envy, because they have to learn how to “master it.”

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Envy Greatly Affects Women in Real Life

This point, that giving in to envy and allowing it to control your interactions with others online or in real life, harms you and others, is the most important point we should know.  Because it’s a heart issue, and not computer or social media-related, it’s not something that’s just going to go away when you step offline.  It has to be recognized and dealt with in one’s real life as well.

The problem with envy though, is that women (and men) who give in to this emotion and sin, often do not feel any remorse whatsoever.  It is usually coupled with pride in that they feel right to feel embittered, and therefore it’s hard to get them to care or sympathize with how their actions may impact themselves or others.

In fact, studies have proven that people who feel envy (in real life as well as online), actually have been found to report feeling happy when something bad happens to the person they envy – something bad enough to “put them in their place,” so to speak.  It is also linked with efforts to try to harm that person in real life, due to schadenfreude (joy at other people’s misery).  And if that isn’t depressing enough, another study shows us that only 50% of our “friends” on social media actually like us, or feel the same reciprocal kind of friendship feelings we feel toward them.  This would probably account for why those people aren’t happy for their friends’ happiness.  If they don’t even “like” them, then of course they may not feel happy when seeing their social media “friends” happy.

It’s the whole crab-basket effect, which Ian Ironwood explains in detail.

So for over 30 years, more than an entire generation, we’ve seen women at work, women in management, women “competing in a man’s world” . . . even though the “man’s world” looks more feminine than ever.
So . . .how’s that working out for women?
Turns out . . . not so good.  
Dr. Peggy Drexler has published two pieces back-to-back discussing the complexities of women working with women.   The result isn’t pretty . . . and pretty much validates everything I’ve said about the Female Social Matrix.  Also known as the Crab Basket.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a metaphor for how women relate to other women— how they self-organize, socially.

Thankfully not all woman are like this I’ve found!  Social media does seem to create more opportunities for women who wouldn’t be like this in real life, to let themselves give in to this sin where the consequences aren’t as tangible.  But they do have consequences, women who act like this online still have an overall negative affect on society, because it pulls manners and morality down to a more primal (it’s you or me) level, instead of a more civilized view of if we all do our best to succeed, we’ll produce a more beautiful and loving society.

It happens in Real Life far more than you’d imagine

Recently I happened upon a 3-year-old article where a mother was describing how simply having a good, positive and happy play-date for her daughter and a friend turned into something she was made to feel shame over.

When the mom came back I invited her in for a few minutes. She smelled the aroma of fresh-baked cookies and saw the kids happily playing and said, “Wow, you go all out for playdates. I just usually throw some goldfish at them.”

I felt a little surprised at the disdain I heard in her voice, but when I snapped back into reality I instantly went into defense mode, which for me is self-deprecation in overdrive.

“Oh, Gak is just glue and detergent and I had promised my kids we would do it, and the cookie dough was leftover and my kitchen never looks like this normally but we have company coming over tonight and…” I rambled on like an idiot. Because apparently being a good mom is something I did to offend her.

I felt shamed for doing something fun for my kids—and hers. Shame for even trying to be a good mom. Trying to be good actually brought out the worst in both of us.

This happened to me a lot over the years.  I have heard comments about volunteering too much at my kids’ school,or hosting too nice of parties or making a Pinterest-inspired handmade soccer cookie (one time).

Most people are appreciative, but there are always others that say something along the lines of, “Way to make the rest of us look bad!”

Sadly, this behavior really isn’t just relegated to social media alone.  It seems there will always be women who punish other women who aspire to do good, to be happy, to make beautiful things themselves, or to even make playdates for children happy and pleasant.

The female mantra even all throughout literature, seems to be “do your best, but don’t you dare do too much better than me!”  Instead of women being genuinely happy for each other when another succeeds, if it’s “too much” for one in particular, she’ll deem it as “bad” somehow.

In the past few years of blogging, I’ve seen how this even applies to women in the Bible, particularly the Proverbs 31 woman since she is the idealistic representation of what us wives should look up to and feel inspired by.  Even a decade before I started writing my series, there were already books and articles out there online with Christian women sarcastically slamming the Proverbs 31 wife as an unrealistic “super mom.”  Yes, I’m being serious!  Christian women regularly would mock and put down an entire passage in the Bible, mostly because they said it made them feel “pressured” or “inferior!”  Whether we’re told we’re Pharisees for seeing beauty in this biblical passage, or when we’re told to “Stop Obsessing” over her, or to “Rethink” her character to be a “fictional” one in order to downplay what the Bible calls us as wives to try to emulate and grow into, it’s downright getting rarer and rarer to find someone promoting her as real and what God wants us to take seriously.

It always seemed so strange to me that Christian women would actively hate the Proverbs 31 passage, or seek to ridicule anyone who wrote on it thinking it was applicable to today.

But after reading this article, do you still wonder why?

 

Related Articles

 

Stephanie

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The Principle of Sowing & Reaping

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“Do not be deceived:

God will not be mocked,

a man will reap what he sows.”

Galatians 6:7

I love how often God speaks to us in the Bible about the importance of reaping and sowing while we are here on earth.  This is possibly one of the most powerful spiritual principles to understand, because it impacts almost every area of our life and even into eternity!

And side note: I’m currently reading these books pictured.  Two I’ve read before, but commenter Earl suggested a new one, “Ungodly Rage,” and so I picked it up ASAP.  All three have to do with this principle of reaping and sowing – very interesting to see it applied to our modern day.

Here is the rest of the passage in Galatians 6:7-10:

“Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked, a man will reap what he sows, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

So we must not get tired or weary of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we do not give up.”

It amazes me that we are warned here, “God will not be mocked!”  We have to take this principle seriously, and live as though we firmly believe that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction in this life.  When we sow things in the flesh, we are going to, for certain, reap the consequences of that later on in another season of our life.  This is something that has the capacity to be a beautiful opportunity to sow into the hearts of others around us, however, we should also have a healthy fear of the potential for negativity and darkness coming back to us, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

The Bible actually has many examples we can learn from where people sowed sin in another’s life, and then had to reap that same sin coming back onto their own heads later on.  It’s a mysterious Jewish principle from the Old Testament, that God will bring back someone’s actions onto their own heads if they’ve wronged or even planned in their heart to wrong someone.

“Do not enter the gate of My people in the day of their disaster and do not appropriate their possessions in the day of their disaster.

For the Day of the LORD is near, against al the nations.

As you have done, so it will be done to you;

what you deserve will return on your own head.”

Obadiah 13:13b, 15

So we see this in the Old Testament (and in many more places than just Obadiah), as well as in the New Testament in Galatians (the opening verses).  Modern churches, you could even say modern “Christianity,” teaches that this principle of reaping and sowing, especially the negative aspect, is only relegated to Old Testament earning of God’s approval.  In truth, it is more like a timeless Truth, which is why we see it both in the Old and New Testaments, because regardless of whether or not we are saved, we are still bound by earthly (and even spiritual) ramifications for our decisions.

In other words, even if we’re saved, Galatians tells us, “God will not be mocked,” we’re still going to reap what we sow.

***

Think about all the biblical examples of traps that so many people in the Scriptures left for others they were trying to harm.  They ended up falling into their own traps, and what was intended to harm others, actually ended up happening in the exact same manner to them!  This is not to say that God-fearing people cannot be harmed by evildoers, though.  Here are just a few examples off the top of my head:

  • Haman in his hatred and envy of Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, ending in being hanged on the very same gallows he had built for Mordecai to hang on!
  • Nabal in his treatment of David, ending in Nabal’s death because of his insults!
  • Daniel’s accusers getting him thrown into the lions’ den, then being thrown in themselves after the truth is finally outed!
  • Hagar treating Sarah (her mistress) with contempt when she thought she had the upper hand, then being subject to Sarah disciplining her extremely harshly (and God commanding Hagar to go back and submit to that mistreatment as part of her reaping what she had sown in Sarah’s heart).
  • Saul’s treatment of David, his envy and trying to kill him, ending up losing everything he was trying to keep – his kingdom and his life – being killed himself, but not at David’s hand.

And many many more.  God has an extremely accurate measure of justice.  He admits this several times to us in His Word, and that He cares very much about seeing that justice is done.  This simple, yet profound principle of reaping and sowing, is a way He carries out His justice here on earth.

There’s also a extremely important point we should be aware of and that is that: we will often reap MORE than what we have sown!  This is both good thing and a bad thing, depending on if you’ve sowed good or bad things in life!

If you’ve sowed good in the way of giving and generosity, the Bible does tell us that you will reap more.  I should note that doesn’t necessarily mean you will reap more financially, more in the way that you will be lifted out of living under a curse, and will reap more blessings in your life because of your faithfulness to sow.

“By not making the payments of 10 percent and the contributions, you are suffering under a curse, yet you – the whole nation – are still robbing Me.  Bring the full 10 percent into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house.

Test Me in this way,” says the LORD of Hosts.

See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven and pour out a blessing for you without measure.

I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not ruin the produce of your ground, and your vine in your field will not be barren,” says the LORD of Hosts.”

Malachi 3:8b-12

And from the Parable of the Sower –

“Consider the sower who went out to sow seed….

other seed fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100 times, some 60 times, and some 30 times what was sown.  Anyone who has ears should listen!”

Matthew 13:8

But if you sow bad things (sin), the Bible also says that, when the time is right, you will reap MORE of that sin than what you actually sowed.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves and reap faithful love;

break up your untilled ground.

It is time to seek the LORD until He comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.

You who have sowed wickedness and reaped injustice;

you have eaten the fruit of lies.

Because you trusted in your own way, and in your large number of soldiers,

the roar of battle will rise against your people, and all your fortifications will be demolished in a day of war.”

Hosea 10:13-14

In the book Earl suggested, Ungodly Rage, which is about the “hidden face of Catholic feminism,” it is clear that “you have eaten the fruit of lies,” is directly linked with these Catholics in the book sowing wickedness.  The truly unfortunate fact of this spiritual principle is this reaping more of what has been sown, especially in this case.  They sow wickedness and eat the fruit of lies, and reap an entire war.

“Indeed, they sow wind and reap the whirlwind.

There is no standing grain; and what does sprout fails to yield flour.”

Hosea 8:7

Wind may be annoying (and in truth, is sowing literally nothing), but look how much more was reaped!  A whirlwind came back on them, increasing dramatically the force and consequences of what they sowed.

And we also know that when we sow sin, the end result, the final reaping, is death.

“Then after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.”

James 1:15

 

So what should we do?

Sow in righteousness, sow in mercy, sow in good deeds, sow in repentance, sow in Bible reading and prayer.  Sow goodness and gentleness into the hearts of family, friends, and enemies.

And always remember that bad things can be sowed… lusts, sins of all kinds, fear, envy, pride, etc. and when you sow something, you WILL reap it later on, and with a terrible increase of more than the sin that you sowed.

Every person is actually a sower and a reaper!  Whether you want to be or not, your actions are extremely powerful spiritually, and they not only have real life consequences, but spiritual consequences that are deep and mysterious and hard to comprehend.  You do not have control over those consequences and what they’ll be or look like!  So this is a critical warning about how important it is to understand this and avoid sowing sin into the lives of others.

What is often sowed in tears, will be reaped in joy-

Sometimes doing the work of sowing good things faithfully, is hard and tempting to give up.  Raising children could be a good example of just how hard it can be sometimes to see our end result.

Nevertheless, we need to sow in faithfulness, trusting in God’s will and ultimate decision on what to do with what we sow.

Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.

Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed,

he will surely come back with shouts of joy,

carrying his sheaves he’s gleaned.”

Psalm 126:5-6

I’ve personally found that this is true.  What is sown in tears, will be reaped in a later season (sometimes years after the fact) in joy, as you’ve been given the gift of seeing it redeemed.  Sometimes this is doing a work God’s given you to do, sometimes it is finally seeing vindication.

The Reaping of Your Righteousness Shining like the Dawn-

For me personally, standing on God’s promises remind me of how powerful He is, and how trustworthy He is.  We can faithfully sow, and never worry that He doesn’t notice.

Do not be agitated by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

For they wither quickly like grass

and wilt like tender plants.

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Commit your way to the LORD;

trust in Him, and He will act,

making your righteousness shine like the dawn, 

your vindication like the noonday.”

Psalm 37:1-2,5

Stephanie

Deeper Look into Envy & Social Media

This is a really interesting topic to me, and I considered titling this post “Women prone to the sin of envy need to stay off social media.”  It wasn’t meant to be a command or anything, just merely an observation which even female Christian leaders and teachers are coming to admit is becoming necessary.  You won’t hear them come out and say it so directly, they’ll usually just advise a woman to take a break from social media or not spend too much time on it, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that even modern women in church leadership are now recommending it for the mental health of the women who become dissatisfied with facebook or instagram (or blogs, etc.).  Even with staying off of social media however, women with this particular sin still have to do some major heart-work & self-evaluation to keep the envy from creeping into their real life interactions.

The sin of envy is a lot older than facebook, so staying away from blogs, facebook, instagram, etc. for them isn’t really a “cure,” for their sin.  It’s a heart issue that stems from not focusing on thankfulness, God’s perfect provision, and being content with what God’s already given you.  And it’s pretty tragic that it seems to take some women well into their late adulthood before they ever learn to really deal with it appropriately.

So even though it’s not a “cure-all,” staying off social media entirely for women who have the sin of envy, is a very good start to get them on the right path spiritually.

I love Proverbs 31 Ministries, it is extremely rare that I disagree with something those women post about – they are usually very on point, and the post linked above isn’t some exception here.  ❤

Karen Ehman wrote a post for Wednesday morning titled “Coming Apart at the Seems,” where she wrote the premise for a woman tempted to envy happy people on social media, is that it makes it “seem” like their life is so much better than the woman who’s envying.

There are so many points you could make on this that it’s hard to know where to start, but the main difference I’ve found between women who go to social media and come away feeling depressed, unhappy, and dissatisfied with their own life, and the women who can have social media and still be happy seeing other people’s happiness, is a heart issue.  One woman is sinning with social media use (envy) and another woman isn’t, at least not in that particular way.  Karen doesn’t cover in depth the women who are able to have social media and enjoy seeing their friends’ happiness because the post would probably be too long, but since I find myself always in that category, I can offer some perspective from the other side.

I’m weird.  I find myself even being happy for people I don’t really like if I see something good is going on in their life – it really makes me happy for them and even contemplate if I’ve misunderstood or misjudged them.  Unless I’ve determined they are an evil person (like terrorist-level evil), I really don’t want to see anyone come to harm.  But again, envy has never been a sin that I’ve wrestled much with.

Karen pointed out in her article that the women who feel depressed or dissatisfied after scrolling through facebook and seeing people doing positive things or being happy, compare their own life to the ones they’re viewing online.  This one word compare is so important here.  If you compare your life to someone who looks to be happier than you or has more material or physical blessings than you, you may feel more depressed.  If you compare yourself to someone who isn’t doing so great in life or failing at things – even making bad decisions, you may start to feel superior and prideful.  The correct response is humility and understanding blessings but also that life isn’t fair for everyone.  Some people really will have much worse life outcomes than others, and it’s not always their fault.  Karen doesn’t touch on those outcomes, but I think it’s important to know and understand that comparing either way can lead to deception and sin.

Her examples were interested to me when coupled with the word she chose “seems” though … keep in mind, this is from her perspective of “comparing UP:”

  1. “Wow.   Seems like she sure has academically brilliant children.   Student of the month awards for both her kids at once?”
  2. “Man.  Look at that fancy dinner with her smiling husband. They seem so in love and happy. And we could never afford a night out on the town at a restaurant like that. Nope. Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”
  3. “Oh lovely. A workout selfie at the gym. Look at how flat her stomach is. And those sculpted arms? Seems like she has oodles of time to devote to exercise and a body and appetite that cooperate. Maybe I’ll finally start my diet tomorrow. Or next Monday. Oh, who am I kidding? Seems I’ll never look like that.”

Ok, so since this is so interesting to me (nerd alert), I want to analyze #1… first, the opening word “Wow.” looks like she isn’t really that impressed in a positive way.  Usually, when I say “Wow” about something, there’s real enthusiasm there and it’s expressed more like “Wow!…”   Then we see her go on to say it “seems” like this other woman has academically brilliant children because they both have gotten Student of the Month awards.  Academically “brilliant” may not be an accurate description exactly, Student of the Month surely isn’t that hard to get at most schools, but more of an exaggeration in Karen’s mind.  People who think grandiosely about others tend to have problems idolizing them or feeling really bad when compared next to them – it’s like they don’t realize that they’re exaggerating this other person’s life and success at all.  Again, “Student of the Month” awards don’t necessarily mean her kids are “brilliant.”

From my point of view, when I see someone’s kids succeeding and doing really well, I’m really happy for them or even have a feeling of being over-joyed.  It’s weird… and I don’t know why I’m like that.  Granted our oldest has gotten all-A’s this year at a really hard science and math school, if he was doing very poorly seeing other people’s kids succeed may have affected me differently.  When you’re comparing from a point of view of lack (having a child that doesn’t succeed in school) it may be painful to see friends who have kids who easily excel.

Analyzing #2….  “Man.  Look at that fancy dinner with her smiling husband. They seem so in love and happy. And we could never afford a night out on the town at a restaurant like that. Nope. Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”   Again, with the opening word “Man.”, she just doesn’t sound that happy or really impressed with what she’s viewing.  She notices the dinner is “fancy,” that the husband is smiling, that they “seem” so in love and happy.  The “seem” word is what is so interesting to me in Karen’s post.  I get it that there are people who are really faking it on social media… who really may have horrible marriages but put up a front that they are really happy and post pictures to try to “prove it,” so maybe “seems” is the correct word to use just in case.  But I’m certain it’s impossible for those people to keep faking it 100% of the time, eventually an unhappy marriage will make it’s way to the light in one way or another.

I can think of 2 couples my husband and I know who are great examples of truly happy and fulfilled marriages – we know them from real life circumstances, and their facebook posts reflect accurately what is going on in their reality. It is so clear from us knowing them personally, they really DO have more joy and happiness in their marriage than the average person does.  A LOT more joy and happiness.  They are much older, too, so this happiness and joy over that many years is pretty rare to see.  When they post a picture of them out on a date and the husband is smiling, they really ARE having fun and loving being married to each other in that moment.  You aren’t seeing something that “seems” to be happiness, you’re getting a tiny glimpse into their reality.

After saying to herself that they “seem” so in love and “seem” so happy, she promptly compares her date nights to theirs.  We have never had a ton of money, so our date nights really are very cheap and I feel I can relate here at least in that way.  Want a look inside my mind?  For some reason, I just don’t feel envy when I see our friends or family out on expensive dates and enjoying themselves.  Those kinds of dates are rarely in our budget (maybe once or twice a year at most!), but even if they were, we just don’t spend money that way and probably wouldn’t enjoy it if we had enough to try.  If you are familiar with my family’s background I’ve written about before, you’d know that my parents acted like spending money lavishly was insane.  They had a “millionaire next door mentality” almost to the extreme, and thankfully, I married a man who thinks the same way.  So we actually really enjoy going out on frequent dates and spending practically nothing!  It’s like something we’re passionate about or find extra happiness in – in NOT spending money on fancy dinners, etc.  So I don’t relate to her being upset or feeling down that they can’t afford fancy dinners.  When I see those posts on my facebook, I still feel happy for the couple (we need more happy marriages in this world!), and move on with my life.

Our nights out are often spent in a spat while we split an entree at a chain eatery to keep the cost down.”  This is sad!  I have a ton of respect for Karen for being so honest so we can really get a look into what envious women are thinking, but this is tragic to me.  If a married couple can’t even enjoy date nights – nights that are usually carefully planned and away from kids where you can relax and enjoy each other – without fighting (“our nights out are often spent in a spat”) then it makes me wonder how often they fight when they’re doing just day to day struggles??  So from our point of view, when we have date nights, we’re out having fun and enjoying ourselves, and we try to do this to the max.  We laugh and tease each other, we play and flirt and make sexual innuendos – we REALLY enjoy our time alone together and it always ends in having sex when we come back.  No fighting, no little spats, just fun, massive flirtation, adventures together, and good sex.

Sometimes we do snap a picture and post it to facebook, but usually we’re too busy to remember.  But if another woman with Karen’s point of view sees our photo on her news feed and has her same line of thoughts, saying it “seems” like we’re so in love and so happy, she’s getting a peek into our reality.  She really may have a marriage where they fight often when they’re supposed to be out having fun and relaxing, but that’s not the case with us.  Seeing a glimpse into our reality makes her feel bad and feel tempted to envy, or tempted to feel superior by thinking that “well it’s only PART of their lives and who knows what’s REALLY going on.”  If she knew the whole story, how this is just how our marriage operates and how satisfied we are by the end of the date night, cuddled up together after a fun adventure and great sex, feeling both so loved and fulfilled emotionally inside that it feels like a real-life fairy-tale, she’d probably even feel worse about her own marriage knowing our reality was so much better than hers presently.  It’s sad 😦 her reality is the direct opposite from our reality – both in the way we view things (not desiring fancy dinners, being optimistic in hard times financially) and in what’s really going on (fighting every time they’re out on dates versus us hardly fighting ever).

One can see why staying off social media altogether for women prone to this sin would be a good thing, especially for their mental and spiritual health.

Analyzing #3…..   “Oh lovely. A workout selfie at the gym. Look at how flat her stomach is. And those sculpted arms? Seems like she has oodles of time to devote to exercise and a body and appetite that cooperate. Maybe I’ll finally start my diet tomorrow. Or next Monday. Oh, who am I kidding? Seems I’ll never look like that.

So again with the opening words of her facebook observations, this time it even sounds sarcastic.  Maybe it’s not, but it would make sense with the depressive attitude she has while scrolling.  Again, I really commend Karen for being so open and honest here.  So she looks over this woman’s selfie at her flat stomach and sculpted arms, and then makes a judgment that it “seems” like this other woman has “oodles of time to devote to exercise,” and has “a body and appetite that cooperate.”  I think I can relate here somewhat since I see those selfies all the time, too.  But being a part of a fitness group where even extremely overweight women lose ALL the weight overtime, I know for a fact it doesn’t take “oodles of time,” each day to get your body to feeling great, fit, and strong.  Realistically, all it takes is about 20-30 minutes a day… that’s it!  It may take a couple of years doing that though, and usually does for women who have over 100 pounds to lose, but when you’re not that far from your goal (50 pounds or less), it just doesn’t take that long if you’re consistent and committed to yourself succeeding.  So it’s sad from Karen’s viewpoint, she already shoots herself in the foot before she’s even begun by making it “seem” to out of reach.  Then we see her talk about “maybe” starting a diet soon, but there’s no real conviction or commitment in “maybe,” so it’s highly unlikely she’ll really try hard enough.  And finally she ends with a definitive sabotaging statement, giving up and claiming she’ll “never look like that,” anyway, so why try?

Just very tragic to see how these women think when scrolling through facebook or instagram (which is worse since it’s nothing BUT pictures).  The woman taking the selfie really IS probably much happier in her life – not just with her body, although that definitely adds a lot to a woman’s overall happiness, but also the fact that she’s getting up and going to the gym, meeting people there, making friends to support her in her fitness goals and filling her life with positivity.  It feels incredible to take care of yourself physically, and it’s kind to yourself to prioritize your health – the rewards bring so much joy and happiness to a woman’s life.  While Karen is sitting down in an already depressive mood, staring at this other woman’s picture who is out and about, having fun and making positive life choices to make her life happier, it’s only Karen who is the one hurting in this case.

You can read the rest of her post to find out how she brings it around in a lesson of finding contentment in your own life’s choices.  It is a great message and was fun to analyze for me.  So again, staying off social media doesn’t “cure” the sin of envy, that sin will still show up in real life when the woman is tempted to feel that way about coworkers or relatives or friends.  The only thing that seems to combat envy on social media is developing the habit of thankfulness or living every day with “Thanksgiving,” for the blessings in your own life.  Women prone to this sin also need to be wary of feeling prideful if they delete their facebook or social media – using the attitude that it’s “all nonsense anyway,” and looking down on the women who can still have it and not be tempted to envy.  Realizing with humility that it may be too much for them to keep a pure heart, or that they have a heart issue with contentment and gratitude so facebook isn’t “for them,” is a much better response than merely feeling superior because they don’t use it anymore.

 

Something to think about:

If a woman is going through a very rough period in her life, or has experienced many losses all at once, staying off social media altogether would be extremely beneficial to her until she fully heals emotionally and spiritually.  It would be extremely hard to be going through trauma or tragedy and still keep a grateful heart when seeing the happy and beautiful posts/pictures of her facebook acquaintances every day.  It’s almost cruel 😦 .  Same goes for a woman who is already in a depression.  Seeing happy posts or pictures will either tempt her to sin or tempt her to become bitter and more resentful at her own internal feelings.  It’s hard to be happy for other people when you’re depressed – and that’s normal, so giving herself grace and time away from a computer is taking care of herself mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

 

 

Staying Focus

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am, and have been, having a hard time for the past few months in the discipline of staying focus.  There are so many times when I’ve been sorely tempted to stray off onto tangents, and even when these tangents are supposedly “good things,” it became obvious that in saying “Yes” to entertaining them, I was saying “No” to what I actually needed to be doing instead.

With every choice we make, we are saying “yes” to something, and then also “no” to something else.

When I choose to say “Yes” to reading something ugly or passive aggressive, I’m saying “No” to something that is positive or uplifting, something righteous and from God that could have helped me on my path.  When I travel down that road of entertaining things that stem from other people’s unrighteousness, I’m straying off the course that I’m supposed to be on, that God desires me to stay on.

When I was finally convicted of this constant temptation to stray off the path of being focused on the purpose of my life, God’s Will for my life, it came after a long, wonderful evening with my parents when I was driving home on a long stretch of open highway as the sun was setting and dusk was appearing.  The wonder of the peaceful silence, the lack of cars around me, and the speed of the highway suddenly propelled my thoughts as God pricked my conscience that this was what He wanted me to do at this time.  To stay focus.

There were many exits I was passing that could lead me to places other than my purposed destination, but they would only distract me from getting to my goal (home), and finding rest and sleep – renewal and rejuvenation.  These off-roads would delay me in my journey, and pro-long my eventual arrival.  And so it is with distractions and temptations to stray off onto tangents in our spiritual journey, or to go down roads we were never meant to travel.

When I got home, I drew out the picture I saw in my head of a road going straight that was my purpose and God’s Will for my life, and little roads that led off of it in different directions.  I named each of these little roads that led me down unrighteous paths, and each one, as I drew it out and named it, suddenly became so convicting to me how wrong it actually was, and how much of a sinful distraction it was to living a righteous, purposeful, and productive life!  The beauty of it’s clarity was breathtaking, and this picture has been burned into my mind ever since.

*

Staying focus is not only a discipline of physically obeying by doing the right things, it is a mental obedience to adhere our thought-life to the right things.  Our thoughts eventually determine our actions.  If I am constantly (or even sometimes) thinking about things I shouldn’t be, wandering into places to look for contention with people I know I have friction with already, I will eventually end up following through on these thoughts with actions that take me off course.  I have to be mentally on course, staying focus, if I ever want to achieve and keep my physical obedience on course and staying focus.

Here are some verses that I’ve been dwelling on for the past few months regarding Staying Focus, from the Amplified Bible, because I love it and am a complete nerd who actually talks this way (with parenthesis because I’m awkward lol).  If you’ve never read the Amplified version, I encourage you to take a look at these scriptures with a fresh eye and mind attentive to hearing them explained in depth based on the actual language used in the text:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man) produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

“Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality.  They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there.  And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.  The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life.

 People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit — even with those who help in the production.  They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people — even, and sometimes especially, members of their own family or close friends and associates.  It’s almost as if something is being taken from them when someone else receives special recognition or windfall gain or has remarkable success or achievement.

 Although they might verbally express happiness for others’ success, inwardly they are eating their hearts out.  Their sense of worth comes from being compared, and someone else’s success, to some degree, means their failure.  Only so many people can be “A” students; only one person can be “number one.”  To “win” simply means to “beat.”

 Often, people with a Scarcity Mentality harbor secret hopes that others might suffer misfortune — not terrible misfortune, but acceptable misfortune that would keep them “in their place.”  They’re always comparing, always competing.  They give their energies to possessing things or other people in order to increase their sense of worth.

 They want other people to be the way they want them to be.  They often want to clone them, and they surround themselves with “yes” people — people who won’t challenge them, people who are weaker than they.

It’s difficult for people with a Scarcity Mentality to be members of a complementary team.  They look on differences as signs of insubordination and disloyalty.” -Covey

It’s by far, much better obviously, to not acquire this kind of way of thinking and acting.  There is plenty enough out there for everyone to achieve their own kind of success.  And sometimes, success doesn’t always mean what you’d think it has to mean – success doesn’t necessarily mean getting a lot of money, looking the best, gaining the most power or influence.  Success – real success – is in how great your life is.  How great YOU make it to be.  Working hard, being fair to others, being a good friend, being good to your family – being happy has a lot to do with the way that you live your life. 

Make sure that what you think is success, really and truly is.