/**/ The Purposeful Wife: A Proposed Response to Internet Envy

Friday, July 17, 2015

A Proposed Response to Internet Envy

We've all been there. Slumped in sweat pants, sleep deprived, children tearing the house around you apart. Your sink is full of crusty dishes, your bed is unmade, and the laundry is towering. Overwhelmed and under-motivated, you pick up your phone for a quick cruise of Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram. Because anywhere is easier than here right now.

And you, in all your hog-pen glory, are assaulted by the beautiful images: vases of bright flowers adorning pristine counter tops. A beautiful mom having a perfect hair day with her immaculately groomed and sweetly smiling child. Play rooms and living rooms and kitchens straight out of Better Homes and Gardens.

Your belly starts to sour. You weren't in good shape before, but now you are decidedly feeling worse. More slummy, more of a failure, more discontented than ever. Obstacles that seemed insurmountable minutes before are now officially impossible. Hope is out of reach.

Oh friend- let's put our phones down.

That discontentment, that envy- let's call it what it is: sin. But instead of beating ourselves up, let's run to the One who still offers grace and hope for today and repent. Let's trust that His grace is sufficient for us, for even us in our sweatpants and greasy hair and messy home.

And then let's get to work.

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. One dish scrubbed, one crying toddler comforted, one load of laundry started, one sibling quarrel addressed with a deep breath and more calm than usual. One thing at a time. And then the next thing, and then the next. A little bit of faithfulness, a little bit of plodding, goes along way in making strides of improvement.

When I find myself particularly drawn to one person's news feed or stream or posts- wishing my life was just a little more like hers... I've found a few strategies that help me to put off envy, and instead make positive changes.

Knowing myself is helpful. I know that when I am really tired, I tend to follow the path of least resistance. Feeling too drained to be productive, I will pick up my phone and begin making my problems worse. I'm trying to proactively combat tiredness- going to bed earlier, taking an afternoon nap when I need it, making sleep a priority.

Sometimes as moms, of course, our best efforts to get enough sleep are seriously thwarted by circumstances beyond our control. A sick kid {or two!}, night terrors, a teething baby, an overly active pregnant bladder... well, tired days are going to happen.

When I am tired, I acknowledge it. I'm finding it is much better to sit my kids in front of the t.v. for thirty minutes so that I can take a power nap on the couch than it is to ignore them and mindlessly surf the internet. Or if a nap just isn't possible, I will splash my face with cold water and dive into a big ole cup of caffeine so that I can power through. Anything but waste the time and make it that much harder to be content and productive.

When I notice that online images are stirring up a sense of longing in my heart, I'm trying to identify what it is that attracts me to them. Am I craving order? A little beauty? More disposable income? A cleaner house?

Is it a sinful desire? God has blessed our family with a certain income, and my duty is to be content with such things as I have- because He Himself has said He will never leave me or forsake me {Hebrews 13:5}. In such cases I must confess my sins to Him, and pray for His help in forsaking it. Shutting down the screen {once again!} is often a big help and the first step.

Is it a good desire? How should I respond to it? Having a clean house isn't a bad thing. We were created to enjoy and delight in the beauty of God's created world. God is a God of love and order and beauty. In a fallen world my life is not going to perfectly reflect that, but are there little steps I could take in that direction today?

It might mean that I buy a bouquet of $5 flowers from Aldi to brighten up my home. Or that I adopt a new cleaning routine or participate in a minimalist challenge to get my house in better order. Or that I take more time to read with, love on, and invest in my children- often times behavior issues are a sign that more love and attention is needed.

My life may not be anything close to that blogger's life whom I admire. Heaven knows it's not meant to be. But maybe me drooling over her clean counters is a signal that I should devote a little more attention to mine. If it is that important to me, or if it could have that big of an impact on my mood, it is worth prioritizing.

That's my proposed response to internet envy.

What strategies help you when you're feeling discontented with life?  

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