No Filter Advent

Do you feel like we are in a science fiction movie? Perhaps it’s just a really bad comedy? 2020 has been the longest, shortest year of my adult life. The twists and turns of these months are like a Disney roller coaster; whipping me around bends that I didn’t see coming.

Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness month? Perhaps your feed has been filled with facts, stories and pictures.

Most times I read a post, I get a sinking feeling in my gut. I feel like I don’t measure up to all the things others have posted.

Why do I seem to struggle more than the people I’m reading about? They all seem to have worked out the kinks that adoption throws at you. Why are my struggles without resolution?

This is not an an Adoption Awareness post. If you are curious and want to know more, I’d highly recommend reading Lisa Quall’s blog; One Thankful Mom. A birth mom, adopted mom and biological mom, Lisa has amazing wisdom.

No, today’s post is about why I started this blog in the first place – no filters, no bullshit, not gray shading. I wanted a place where I could write with authenticity, post with all the feelings and document, for my family and friends, the everyday moments. Call it a public journal.

I’ve become more and more aware of the destructive nature of social media in my life this year. As this pandemic lingers on, I’ve seen people’s feeds blow up with filters and words, constantly covering over the deeper issues. Even people who proclaim “self love” and “letting it all out” use filters. Why?

When I first moved to the USA after my senior year of high school, I was struck by how everyone had to plan and schedule every interaction. We all carried these big planners around, writing down dates, times and where to meet. Now our smart phones give us that option. My interactions, having lived in Africa, was that this seemed so silly. Why plan when you could just be together at that time, the time when you needed community?

We do the same with our Instagram and Facebook accounts. Posts are planned and typed with heavy laden fingers on the edit button. We gloss over the hard ugh of life and post the good. If we do post the ugly, it’s usually in a past tense voice. “I was all jacked up but now I’m good. See?”

Today is the first Sunday of Advent in the Christian calendar; the first day of the liturgical year. It’s the time we are asked to prepare for Christmas. I sat on my couch early this morning and started reading.

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you…Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me….Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God, “Why did you let me down? Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies? Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?”

Psalm 42 (the Messages, various verses)

What I see on people’s feeds, that isn’t the whole story. What I show on my feed, you sure can bet I’ve left out a lot. My life right now, not going to lie, it is a shit show most days. I wake up ready to face whatever will be slung at me. By most nights, I’ve had to rearrange my expectations, patience and willpower at least 100 times.

Perhaps we all need to be more like David in the Psalms. He just lets it all hang out. (I wonder if he struggled with a brain illness. I wouldn’t put it past our God to give us an example of greatness in someone who silently struggled to get up each day.)

I write this today as a strong admonishment for me.

Over these next weeks of Advent, don’t let the filters and the feeds create disharmony and discontent in your heart.

Look past the angles of the photos, the fancy filters and see the coverups for what they are. No one wants their life to be a sad filled festival. We all want to show some semblance of having it all together.

Be reminded that your life is YOURS. Comparison is the enemy. Good golly I keep learning this lesson over and over again.

And maybe put down the phone for a day or two.

Stop scrolling for 24 hours.

Sit and stew in your own space of loss.

Write down the things that make you so dang angry and jealous you can’t see straight.

Focus on three things you are good at.

Let the heavy linger with the good. Try as you might to find a sliver of hope in the midst of the hard.

Unexpected God, your advent alarms us. Wake us from drowsy worship, from the sleep that neglects love, and the sedative of misdirected frenzy. Awaken us now to your coming, and bend our angers into your peace. Amen.

-Revised Common Lectionary

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