You’ve probably experienced it before. You’re scrolling through your news feed on Facebook or the latest articles and images your friends have pinned on Pinterest. And then suddenly it hits you. Right there between the blog post about “10 Ways to Throw the Perfect Party” and the Instagram post highlighting a happy and beautifully-coordinated family photo, you feel it. That gnawing feeling in your stomach. That thought that creeps into your mind. The voice that whispers, “You are not enough.”
If we’re being honest, we’ve all felt this way at one time or another. We’re envious of a girlfriend’s picture-perfect vacation. We feel guilty because we’re not as creative as the mommy-blogger we follow. We wish we could balance it all — work, home, church, etc. — as well as “she” does.
This isn’t a new struggle for women. The temptation to compare and covet has existed for a long time. It’s just that in the last few years, social media has seemed to escalate these problems. And it starts early. Teenage girls (and even preteens) find significant validation (or the lack thereof) on social media. It’s easy for them to base their value on the number of likes they did or didn’t get on that last photo they posted.
Many adults experience the same struggle. We all want to be accepted and be the “best” we can be. But often our standard for perfection is skewed by filters and Photoshop. And if it’s not the images that cause us to stumble, it’s the story of “her” perfect family outing or always-well-behaved children.
The problem with social media and online presence is the ability to hide so much. We often forget that in between those Instagram posts, that mom probably dealt with a toddler’s temper tantrum or a teenager’s attitude. And what you can’t see in that last photo she posted is the messy pile of laundry in the corner. It’s easy to cover up the imperfect moments of the day and only show what looks perfect and put together.
The problem is real for the women you lead. So how can you encourage the women to overcome the temptation to pursue this false idea of perfection? Here are a few ideas:
1. Remind her of her worth.
This sounds simple, but it is a profound first step. Because Photoshopped and filtered images bombard women daily, we need to frequently remind women of their value in the eyes of their Creator. A woman doesn’t have to look a certain way. God has fashioned every woman exactly as He planned. He knows her. He loves her. And she doesn’t have to be perfect to earn His love. In fact, He loves her deeply in spite of her imperfections. That’s the very reason He sent His Son to die on the cross.
2. Celebrate her uniqueness.
This includes the way she looks, her personality, the spiritual gifts God has given her, the talents she has, and so much more. Each woman is made in the image of God and she reflects Him in unique and special ways. We need to encourage women to embrace their uniqueness and celebrate the different strengths they have. That’s ultimately the purpose of the body of Christ. Each person is gifted and unique so that together we can serve the Lord fully and completely. Take note of the gifts present in the women you lead have. Point out the things they are good at and encourage them to be confident in the way God made them.
3. Encourage her to take a break from social media.
It’s always best to distance ourselves from potentially harmful situations. For some women, social media is much more harmful than helpful. Challenge her to take a break from Instagram, Pinterest, or whatever might be feeding her struggles with self-esteem and perfectionism. Encourage her to spend the time she would have been scrolling through that news feed to instead memorize Scriptures that specifically reveal God’s love for her. She’ll find that the break from the pressure of social media is a breath of fresh air for her heart.
These are just a few of the ways you can encourage the women you lead to step back and think through the “reality” of the online world. The influence of social media is real and it is significant in the lives of women of all ages. Our role is to remind women of their worth in the eyes of the Lord, celebrate the unique ways He has made each of us, and encourage healthy separation from influences that are detrimental to our hearts. Social media isn’t going away and neither is the temptation to be perfect. But together, through encouragement and the truth of Scripture, we can overcome this struggle with perfection.
Tessa Morrell is the editorial manager at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn. In addition to her role on staff as a writer and editor, she also has the joy of serving as a volunteer leader of a small group of young adult women each week. That’s one of the things Tessa is most passionate about: studying God’s Word with women of all ages. Before starting her job at Brentwood Baptist, Tessa served in various roles with LifeWay Christian Resources as a camp staffer, camp intern, and editor of devotions and curriculum for students. She continues to work with LifeWay as a freelance writer and editor. In her spare time, Tessa enjoys a good cup of coffee, spending time with family, and painting and creating collages with her favorite Scriptures.