I'm confident that when James the biblical writer penned his famous illustration likening forgetting what your reflection looks like to hearing but not obeying the words of Jesus, he would never have imagined a generation who would spend almost more time in front of a mirror (or a screen) than away from it.
Before the proliferation of mirrors in the year 1500 people would have rarely had the opportunity to look at themselves throughout the day. Though of course they weren't immune to others opinions of themselves they still largely spent their time of self-reflection based on who they were on the inside - their character and the invisible personal aspects of their nature - and not their appearance as others see it. Today, we are far more owned by our exterior world both in how we appear to others but also in how our opinions and views translate to the outside world.
My generation is losing touch with what it was like before we put our whole lives on show for others judgement and I'm guessing those growing up into the world of image and social media will have little reference point to guide them.
How is your inner person? Where is your focus? Are you thinking of your life in twitter styled thought projections? Do you experience great moments through the mind frame of how it will look to others when you post it? How many filters do you apply to your photos and how heavy to you need to use them before you feel like your seemingly plain life is validated before your peers?
I've got to be honest with you this pendulum has swung plenty in my own life over these last years. I wish I was immune to the pressure of having a life that looks a certain way but the truth is, and especially as an artist, I often feel as though my life should appear more creative, more exotic, more interesting than it does. Feeling like it's not has led to a few down days as my Instagram feed has been filled with friends playing stadiums, meeting other great musicians or selling charting albums. All worthy of genuine celebration until they become modes for comparison which can sneak up on us easily enough on our weak days.
Over these last 6-9 months I've had long spells off social media to focus on study or prayer and during these times I have literally felt like I've got my mind, even better, my peace back. I've realised that in increments living our lives from the outside in rather than from the inside out robs us of our present moments. The former robs us of truly discovering God, discovering ourselves and discovering others. The latter is an invitation to the only moment that ever truly exists for us relationally, the right now.
As I've had these seasons apart from the screen I've become aware of how much we accept this scrutiny from all others to be part of our everyday self-shaping. Why does the world need to see everything I'm doing, my personal life, where I am and what I'm thinking?
Quite simply, it doesn't.
I believe the right now is our eternity-now, the resurrection life we've been gifted in Jesus. To be in this moment is to be in Christ, in eternity, completely whole and completely accepted. Any likes, shares or views we may receive from the vacuum in others lives is simply superfluous to that beautiful truth. Our tomorrow with God starts today in the very seconds we relent ourselves to who we are in him first and allow ourselves to receive his love and validation.
God made us how we are because he loves us. Our imperfections only serve to heighten humanities beauty and our weaknesses are no obstacle for Love.
We can discover ourselves long before the mirror or society tells us who we are.
We already have, in Him.