At the beginning of this year, one of my goals was to publicly complete a “Project 365” – take a picture every single day of the year and post it on Instagram and Facebook.
I started to use #SpartanLife365 as the hashtag, and you can see my most recent pictures along the right side of the blog page. Click over to my Instagram and follow me there, or like my Facebook page and I post them there, too!
It’s been an adventure, to say the least. I have to admit that it’s not something that comes naturally or easily.
I suppose that it would come a lot more easily if I was okay showing you guys the façade of a perfect life. I could show you pictures of us laughing and having just the best time doing ordinary things like we are in a commercial (“Don’t we just look amazing laughing and running through this field? Just another Tuesday in Paradise…” “No really, I always look this cute snuggling up with my steaming mug of coffee in the morning.”).
I could try to fill your feed with perfect selfies from the front seat of my car. Or pictures of me “sitting” somewhere with my kids after we staged ourselves and I held the phone at just the right angle and took 17 different shots.
*Admittedly, I do retake a couple sometimes if someone’s eyes are closed or they look like they’re stoned. No reason to humiliate someone else for the sake of my project…*
But I don’t want you to look at my homepage on Instagram and see my face almost all the way down the page, smiling at you like everything is always fantastic. I don’t want to pretend that I am someone that I’m not with “inspirational” Hallmark quotes. That’s not me, and it doesn’t help you at all.
I want you to see that my behind-the-scenes is messy, just like yours. My dishes and laundry. My struggles with my kids. My tired eyes. One of my favorite comments last week was,
“…I love how real you are, honest…you rip open the curtains and give us a glimpse into what seems to be a perfect life lived by the Schraufnagel clan. It’s encouraging to hear that I’m not alone in the day to day struggles with kids, family, etc.”
I cried tears of joy. No joke. This is what I’m here to do. Make no mistake – I am so incredibly blessed and the life I lead is beyond anything I could have dreamt up for myself.
But my “perfect” marriage takes hard work, so when you see a picture of Ty and me that looks so great, it only looks so great because we work hard on the not-so-great stuff together. My “perfect kids” are…not. My hair is rarely cute, and my house is far from spotless. What good would it do anyone to only post an illusion of perfection and ease?
You guys, I love this place. And I love you. I do – so much!
So its important to me that your experience here, whether on Facebook or Instagram or through a blog post, is always filled with authenticity. You’ll see the real me and our real family – not a commercial family. I want you to breathe a sigh of relief when you see my toothpaste on the floor or my sink overflowing with dishes and know that you’re not alone.
I’m not opposed to happy pictures, or fun selfies occasionally. Sometimes there are cute pictures of my family and what we’re doing, and I want you to know that that is just like you, too. I want to help you to see the beauty that is right in front of you. I hope that sometimes it will remind you that you can find splendor in the midst of chaos, little moments of bliss all around you.
Along those lines, I want to challenge you on something really important. I would like you to take a minute to examine the friends, celebrities, and organizations you follow on Instagram.
Who you follow on Instagram or Facebook informs your life so much more than you think. Following people whose sole purpose is to post perfection makes us feel inadequate. Whether these people are your friends or celebrities, I hope you really examine how their posts make you feel.
Does each picture cause you to feel like you need to buy a new product or exercise more to look like them? Do you feel like you have been encouraged, or do you just feel not good enough?
I’ve had to do some careful exploration of who I follow on social media – especially celebrities and people that I don’t know personally. I’ve started following someone only to unfollow them after a few posts, because the message they’re sending is not one I’m interested in entertaining.
Who I Follow on Instagram
I want to be so pleased by the things I see on my feeds. I want to be encouraged and uplifted each time I plug in.
For this reason, I follow very few fitness gurus. But the ones that I do follow – you guys they’re real and honest and inspiring (@biggalyoga, @sarahbethyoga, @thebalancedlife).
I’m choosy about the celebrities I follow (@reesewitherspoon, @jessicaalba, @jaimeking, @taylorswift). I want to see people who are generous, modest, and encourage others to make an actual difference in the world – not half naked and fake bodies, and someone who is totally self-absorbed.
I have committed that the organizations that I follow will be organizations that do things to help people or help us to see people just as Jesus loves them, because that’s what I want my life to be about (@noondaycollection, @two_wings, @humansofny).
The bloggers and people that I follow love Jesus and it overflows into their social media, and I love to be on the other end of that. They remind me to swim in the grace that Jesus freely gives (@gracelaced, @bobgoff, @theuneditedmovement, @thetinytwig).
Though I was hesitant at first, I have grown to love Instagram because I’ve made it a safe place for myself – a place to be encouraged and rest. It’s my intention to make this #SpartanLife365 project a place for truth and authenticity and I hope that you join me!