Untold Stories of a Curated Life
I clearly remember sitting in a philosophy class in college while my professor went on a rant about this new technology that he said was bound to make a very self centered, self absorbed culture: the iPod. Yeah, P-O-D. Do they even make those anymore? But it was Apple coming to the forefront of culture and everyone including myself was excited about it. The professor was upset and said that it would cause the world to tune everyone else out, pop in some headphones and be in a world of one, me. I laughed him off as some old crazy guy and he was also infamous for being a bit odd and cranky anyways. As we know, culture created more technology and then the birth of “social media”. I’m in a love-hate relationship with social media all the time. I hated that people could find my junior high photos on Facebook from someone else’s profile, so I ditched Facebook. Why? Mostly my pride. I also hate how jealous and competitive it makes me. And what do I do? I post a million pictures on Instagram. Love and hate.
My friend and I were talking the other day about this and she mentioned how much of our lives are now curated because we pick and choose the photos we share with whatever caption we feel like. It’s often such a small part or even a misrepresentation of our realities. I do know there is a push to post more “real” pictures and I applaud that. I saw that Chip Gaines from “Fixer Upper” used a candid, un-photoshopped picture of himself for his new book mostly because of this curated problem.
Other than just showing only the best of ourselves, why does a curated view of our lives really matter? There’s certainly nothing wrong in trying to look presentable, show pictures of our kids smiling, and presenting the house when it’s not covered in dog hair and dirty laundry. In my super diligent Bible reading habit, I opened the Bible Gateway app and read the verse of the day yesterday, Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” And done. Close the app. That’s all nice and sweet and self-serving. If there’s one of a million things I learned from BTCL (the Bible program at our church), it was to read all verses in context. So I opened up the larger text and read the entire chapter. Isaiah is preaching to a weary, oppressed people but also drowning in sin. He is comforting them in the earlier verse and continues to say that they will overcome their adversaries with courage. The poor and needy will be helped, the hungry will be fed, and all by the help of God. Many things will be done so that in verse 20 “they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.” The next verse (21) shifts as God begins to put unanswerable questions to the people’s idols. He concludes that they “are nothing and your work is less than nothing, an abomination is he who chooses you.”
During this time with Charlie and our constant contact with people outside our normal circles, I realize how little I verbally credit God for the various miracles and everyday mercies in our lives. Charlie’s better? “Steroids did it!” Nursing shifts are all filled? “Hooray for home health manager!” Didn’t need an ambulance this time? “WE are so smart and attentive!” I find myself curating my life when I talk. I tell people the stories that are full of hope and good news. I leave out the parts that might scare them or still scare me. I don’t say “God did this” nearly enough. Like trusting in an idol (the idol of “me”), these words are nothing and less than nothing.
Yesterday, I made a much more conscious effort to say these things and to bring glory to God. It was awkward and weird feeling, I’ll admit it. But I may be able to untag myself from awkward photos but this is a chance to embrace the personal awkwardness and say “we trust the Lord” out loud and to a bunch of strangers. While we might “bravely” take on the challenge of parenting Charlie and handling his various needs, I am a coward at times. I hope and pray that God will continue to open my eyes to the places that I take the credit or curate my words.