Friday, July 13, 2012

Jesus Gets Sassy

Every year around my birthday, time I log onto Facebook, I reflect on my life and where it's going.  Perhaps this is because I am in the middle of the waiting game, and I think things to myself like, "Wo, wo is me, where am I headed?!  Who am I?!"  Boohoo Jess.  Get a grip.  I used to reflect annually around these sorts of issues, especially through my mid-twenties.  What did I accomplish this year?  Where am I going?  Who am I becoming?  What were my values?  But it turns out that being in your twenties is a whole tangled mess of shoddy surface-y comparisons  (I blogged about this last year).  Career?  Check.  Relationship Status: Married: Check.  House or at least an apartment in the cool side of the city?  Check?  Traveling the world?  Check.  When we think about other people's lives, we might not pause to think about the quality of that check mark, or we might not have seen the trials and tribulations that came with it.

And every time I log onto Facebook, I am inundated with what everyone else is doing, or what everyone else has, and its easy to get caught up in the gaps.   I find that my unhappiness typically comes with whatever it is that I don't have at the moment, even if its a glass of red wine.  I log onto facebook, and someone has posted of picture of their delicious meal COMPLETE WITH RED WINE.  Well now I'm pissed.  That's a terrible example, but it could be that I'm lonely and I want friends, or a relationship, or a cool job, or a neat place to live, or a new car, or I need a vacation and I can't afford one or I'm too busy.  Take your pick.  And even if I have 4 out of 5 of those things, or even if the very fact is that I have clean water to drink, I focus on the few things that others have that I don't.

Because inevitably, I suffer from relative depravation.

Relative depravation is this crazy phenomenon where, when in comparison with others, we tend to look at what we DON'T have, verses all of the things we DO have--we compare upwardly verses downwardly.  Case in point: Facebook friend Amber (I don't think I have any friends named Amber, so I think this will work) got a cool job.  You sit and think to yourself, "But I want a cool job too!  This whole cleaning telemarketing thing is for the birds!  I'm tired of people screaming at me!"  Meanwhile, we might not sit around and compare ourselves to the gargantuan amount of people who are job-less.  And even being unemployed, I'm thinking more about the fact that I don't have a job, not so much thinking that I'm not homeless or have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.  Maybe we get a 40 percent discount on the things the telemarketing company sells, but we want the 50 percent discount our friend at another company gets, but we don't compare ourselves to our friends who get nothing at all.  It's a whole new meaning to the "count your blessings" saying.  The analogies are endless.  We are a nation that is always in want, and it seems our proverbial appetite is never whetted.  It's very exhausting.  The woes of the privileged middle class I suppose.

I love this little bit at the end of the book of John in the Bible, because Jesus gets really sassy with the disciples, and in my non-Christian script he screams at them or maybe uses some unsavory language (I hope that's not blasphemous).  He's giving all of the disciples a pep talk, you know, telling them "Follow Me!"  And of course Peter, being the complainer that he is (I feel like I would be the Peter of the group, and no one wants to admit that), is like, "Hey Jesus, what about John?  What's going to happen to him?"  And Jesus says, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?  You must follow me." (v. 22).  WAKE UP CALL PETER JESS.  Ouch.  Get your life together and stop comparing yourself to everyone else!!!  He says.  I guess things haven't changed much since 33 A.D.  I don't mean to sound preachy, but the parallels are just too strong.

I imagine Jesus told Peter to butt out of John's business, because God had something specific to teach each of them, things that they and they alone needed to hear.  Maybe, later on, their stories would overlap, and they might need to share an experience to help the other along, but maybe it would always be something that remained between Peter and God or John and God (this article I read got me thinking).  So many of our stories are very interconnected, and I love and use Facebook for the same reasons a lot of other people do.  It's not a bad thing, it's just a different entity than we have ever experienced before.  I imagine its just a new and easier way to compare, but comparison in and of itself is nothing new (I feel like I'm better understanding the reasoning behind the whole "Thou Shalt Not Covet" thing).  Perhaps so much of it is looking not at what others are doing and I'm NOT doing, but how other's own stories might seek to inspire me, change me, and move me to achieve my own dreams (which I shall promptly post on Facebook! :)

What do you think?  Has this been your experience with Facebook?  What are you thankful for?

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