She dives into crystal blue water, fit, toned and rocking her #bestlife bikini. She works from exotic locations, with her perfectly pedicured feet in the warm sand. She sips espresso on the beach, with her laptop handy. She reaches every dream and for just a small fee…she will tell you just how you can do the same thing. Reach, reach, reach, hustle and grind your way to your #bestlife…right? Then hustle just a little more on the side. Tick tock, tik tok…here’s all my tips on how to attract the #bestlife job, the #bestlife relationship, the #bestlife home, the #bestlife bank account, the #bestlife bod. Or not. Have you found yourself incessantly stumbling upon this idea there is something better you should be reaching for and doing anything less is somehow dooming you to mediocrity? While the girl with everything living her #bestlife is amazing, smart and killing it, I’m going to play angel’s advocate for a minute. What if your life is actually already great, today? What if what you do, how you look and how you show up in the world right this minute is actually #goodenough?
Each time I am challenged with the task of attracting everything I ever wanted in my “dream reality,” I find myself thinking the same thing- that’s not me. My goal is not to have better, more, now, now, now. But instead, to find contentment…now. While dreams and goals are a normal part of our lives and it’s a beautiful thing to achieve them…there is something almost delightfully rebellious about appreciating where you are today and not always striving for something better and greater. Loving your body just as it is. Loving your life, even when it’s not everything you ever dreamed of as a kid…that kind of thing. There is strength to be found in appreciating the simple things in life and counting your blessings today, having gratitude for this moment, however imperfect. It’s somewhat of an uncommon sentiment. We are challenged at all times, to overcome the mentality that if only we had a certain goal achieved, we would be happy. Or that we couldn’t possibly be happy as we are today because we haven’t reached some theoretical “level” that we need to keep racing toward. When in fact, happiness is just a state of mind that can be achieved at any time and is not dependent on external circumstances, which are always subject to change.
The more we associate happiness with our present circumstances, the less happy we are likely to be. The more we compare our lives to the lives of others, the less we appreciate our own unique story. God makes us each different for a reason and we aren’t all going to be in the same “season”. Where someone else seems to have it all going on, they may be struggling in ways no one is aware of. Public images and personas create perceptions that don’t always tell us the whole story. We never know what someone else is going through no matter how positive or negative their life appears to be. I realize how easy it is, telling people not to compare themselves to others but the reality is, our brains go there. Young people, in particular, are clearly impacted by the images and opinions they encounter on the internet and in media that points to what is “ideal”. If we could just say, “don’t compare yourself to others” and that actually worked, then statistics would not be pointing to a lowering of self-esteem and an increase of self-harm. While I can’t change anyone’s brain chemistry or the effects of popular culture on any of us, I just want to say one thing today…
You are so good. Your life is good. Your job is good, whatever you do. Your hair is good, even when it’s messy in the morning. Your skin is good- the level of your glow is completely sufficient. Your body is good. Yes. IT IS. Because, I hope, it works. It does the needed tasks like breathing and processing nutrients, getting your soul around this lovely globe, right? Your brain is good, your mind is sound. Your heart is good, it loves someone out there. I like your outfit. It’s good! Don’t forget, your feelings, your thoughts, your opinions, they’re good- it doesn’t matter what they are because your feelings are valid. You know what’s the best? You are! Did you know that you are just like 99.9% of the other people who are on their phones, or the internet or iPads or whatever, that are also NOT reading this or any other article from a cabana, in a tropical setting, while looking “flawless” in a bikini? It’s true. It really is.
Maybe the combination of pandemic effects and natural disasters we’ve seen increasing of late, can potentially redefine a few things for us, like, #bestlife, means…alive! And since we’re alive today, why not like ourselves? I don’t mean to encourage anyone not to have goals or want to be successful, in any way. The question I would pose is, how do you define success or greatness? Who are your role models, and why? Success and greatness are relative terms, based on your perspective. You get to define what makes a person great or successful, for yourself. If you rely on the internet to tell you, you very may well come away thinking your greatness is defined by the shape and size of your butt in ratio to the circumference of your waist. So come up with your own equation. Better yet, let God remind you of His definition. Whenever the web tries to catch me up in believing that my level of greatness depends on my appearance, the number of degrees I have, my career status, my level of productivity and so forth, I go back to Jesus’ sermon on the mount and I remember the greatest of us don’t come to be served but to serve others, sharing good news and healing. I remember that God has a really different definition of what #bestlife means, compared with how it’s typically defined in popular culture. I find healing in focusing more on God’s definition of what is best than what I see on Instagram or Pinterest.
Jesus teaches us the greatest blessings and attributes are counter-intuitive to how many in the world would define success in modern times- to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, righteous, merciful and pure in heart. We learn that to make peace with others, to be reviled and persecuted on account of God is to be successful. Jesus said whoever becomes as humble as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. How do these things measure up with what you might see in an average day on Instagram, on Tik Tok or what you hear in pop music?
When I am bombarded by image after image and post after post that want me to believe that my #bestlife is only achieved when I am sipping champagne on a terrace in the Mediterranean, while watching the sunset in a form-fitting dress, enticing my attentive partner with my hourglass figure and glowing tan, while dripping with jewels and celebrating my latest achievement, God inevitably sends me the following message:
How do you define what is best for you? And where is the messaging coming from? Could it be that much of what we are sold as the image of perfection, success and “wealth” is really just tempting us away from being content with our unadorned selves, in our PJs, making breakfast and thankful there’s breakfast to make? I hope that today, you will go look at yourself in the mirror, with no make-up on, messy hair and a stain on your t-shirt and say, “HECK YEAH. I’M GOOD ENOUGH.” Humbly, of course. Because God made you and loves you just the way you are today. You never have to be more beautiful or successful for God to love you. So why do you need to be “more” or “less” than what you are right now, to love or like yourself? What could you possibly need to do or prove, to be worthy of God’s love if you know God already loves you? What could any of us possibly need to do or prove to anyone else to be worthy of their love or respect, if we know it’s our spirit that makes us who we are, not our achievements or others’ opinions? Since God knows our minds and hearts, here’s a few goals I set for myself every day.
I pray for you to achieve whatever dreams or goals you may have, while finding contentment in this moment. May you humbly accept yourself as worthy of feeling good enough, even when life isn’t the #best and find a blessing to count, no matter what today looks like.