It was an innocent and attractive photo. It was a picture of a married couple sitting together outside on a beautiful Memorial Day weekend that was posted on social media. Other people responded with positive comments about this “wonderful couple.”
I didn’t comment. For one, I rarely comment on social media. Two, I know the truth about this couple. Very few people know about the struggles hidden in their marriage. Behind the scenes, their lives together are a mess of mistakes, regrets and trying to forge a new future. I am so glad they have stayed married and are working through their issues, but under their beautiful smiles are cracks beneath the surface.
Pictures like this remind of a few core truths.
1. Everyone is fighting some hidden battle. I have yet to meet anyone who has a perfect life. Some are struggling physically, and others have an emotional fight. Some people fight with addictions and depression while others have deep spiritual wounds. I remind myself of this truth every time I start to get judgmental. Maybe this was a tough day for them. I tell myself this when people hurt me or express anger that seems unjustified. Everyone is fighting with something that is tearing them apart no matter how great everything appears.
2. Be careful with the comparison game. It is easy to look at social media and begin to think that other people have life figured out. They post happy pictures and tell wonderful stories about their “amazing spouse” and their incredibly gifted children. Believe me; they are merely compensating for their own insecurity. If you believe everything you hear and see about others you can become depressed by your own failure.
3. Find someone to be honest with about your struggles. You need a place to drop the façade and be real with people. You need to tell someone your hurts. Ignoring them will not make them go away. You need to handle your issues head-on with the help of someone you trust. Find a friend, a church leader or even a professional counselor to talk to about your problems.
4. You are normal. I know there are days you feel all alone in your battle. You think you are the only person ever to feel this way. Your life seems so much more difficult than everyone else. The reality is that everyone is struggling. Some people hide it better than others.
5. God wants to help you out. The life of faith is about getting your life right with God. The cross is God’s way of handling sin so that I can worship him. Salvation is about God and our relationship with him. There is also a personal side to apply to my life as well. God also wants me to get right with myself and others. He wants to help me through my struggles and build stronger relationships in my life. He offers to bring you peace with God, but also to make you whole. In your battles, draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Most of the pictures I see on social media are fantastic. I am glad to see people enjoying this life God gave them. I also want to look below the surface. People have struggles, including you. I hope you find a way to drop the mask and deal with your issues. A happy face is not the same as being happy.