Real homeschool moms cut back their plants at summer’s end so they’ll come back next spring; they never kill their poinsettias. They can seasonal fruits so they can whip up a fresh cobbler in a (cold) snap. They lead the maple sugaring field trip in the dead of winter, organize camping excursions to observe hibernation and migration patterns, and transform their kitchens into chemistry labs. These moms always make learning fun.
Or so says Facebook.
Me? I kill anything green, even if it’s decked out with tinsel; I can barely get the tree to last through Christmas. Sometimes I buy peach pie filling and I’ve even cooked canned collard greens in a pinch. I never sleep outside, I run from spiders, and I crush anything that crawls (watch out, M&M). I work to instill a love of learning in my seven little people, but honestly, the sound of laughter during school hours raises my hackles (yes, this Grinch can be a mean one).
By social media standards I don’t sound much like a real homeschool mom. I just play one on TV. But I’m okay with that. Just like Popeye, “I yam what I yam.”
Benjamin Franklin put it this way: “What you seem to be, be really.” But who are you, really? Is it the “you” who pinned the perfect candied apples or the “you” who burned the sugar coating? Maybe the real “you” proudly shared the picture of little Jimbo singing Christmas carols—or was it “you” who made him cry before Sunday school? Perhaps “you” are the one who posts vegetarian recipes instead of the “you” who routinely chews out her children for various and sundry reasons. Your Facebook friends probably believe they’re getting what they pay for, but your confused family may not recognize the doggie in the window.
Innocuous, right? Hmm. It comes down to Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Ignoring Brown Sugar who’s live and in person so I can show the unseen masses cute pics of her wearing her holiday dress might not be a “good work.” Sharing Hubby and me cozying up over dinner reflects only candlelight, not God’s light—because I surely don’t wish you were there. I’m just shining my light before men, glorifying myself, not God.
Social media has its purposes. Finding the perfect ham glaze takes a few swipes. I share current pics of the little people instead of on our not-so-annual Christmas cards. Texting “Dinner’s ready!” saves me from trouping—or yelling—upstairs. But life’s not all smoke and mirrors and sepia-colored filters. Social media gluttony is just like overindulging in holiday sweets. I just need to “be, really,” not seeking and finding my identity in what I follow and in who follows me, but in Who I follow.
And I know this doesn’t surprise you, despite the raised eyebrows in your selfie. Sadly, our world just likes its “reality” dressed for success in sparkly ribbons and bows, all decked out and hung up for show like the perfect holiday wreath. Once we hang it on the door we lock it, so no one sees the mess it conceals. We naturally crow publicly about our successes and cry privately about our failures. That’s why social media is such a safe place for us mere humans.
But then, our Savior calls us to be holy, not human.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Jesus says, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made sufficient in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” So, the Crusader should “boast in his infirmities” instead of the accomplishments the world tattoos, tweets, and touts. Songbird should measure her wattage by the “power of Christ” instead of by the number of her Instagram followers. I need to show them where their help comes from—the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth—by first showing them I need help, not purporting to be the ultimate resource for others. (Psalm 121:2)
Surely my little people can see the black heart I try not to wear on my sleeve. And not only them, but God. He “does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
God looks at my heart. Jesus… the Holy One with the countless followers, a best-seller; an impressive staff of contributing writers, and a rock-solid social media platform. Yet His lens is aimed in my direction, and not at Himself. Post a selfie? Not Jesus! He just didn’t think that highly of Himself. Isaiah 53:2, 3 writes, “He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
It doesn’t take a mirror, a camera, or a Facebook entry for me to see as He sees, to be seen as He is seen. I don’t have to post my events and accomplishments to thoroughly enjoy them. I don’t need to forward an e-mail to 50 friends to prove I love Jesus—or that He loves me. I just need to “be, really”—be really, fully engaged in the present moment I’m recording and posting for posterity; be the real wholehearted, fallible mom at home and online; be really intentional and loving and beautiful inside—even if my selfie shows up the very real pimple on my cheek.