Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
This article appearered first at youareMygirls.com--you can read more about Jennifer there!
I wonder if it's hard to be real with one another through a computer screen. I wonder if you, reading a blog post or interacting on social media, feel that you can be vulnerable and connect with the writer behind the words, behind the pretty pictures, behind what may sometimes feel like a facade. I also wonder if there is any chance of you sharing your heart when the writer herself isn't willing to be real and a bit raw herself, sometimes.
We hurt each other when we choose to hide and act like we have it all together when we are really suffering inside. I know I've felt more alone in a house full of smiling, seemingly put-together women with whom I am having trouble connecting than when by myself, alone, in a room.
I can feel this way--alone--when reading articles and looking at stunning photos on the internet, too. I can feel this way even when the writer is hoping to encourage me, not discourage me. Unless she is vulnerable and real with me--what I feel inside is exactly the opposite.
None of us has it all together. We don't need to pretend that we do. And social media can bring to the forefront my insecurities that I'd much rather ignore. I compare another person's photo or good idea or beautiful house with my own situation And I feel I need to work harder to achieve what the other person has--whether what I am trying to achieve is real or not.
For a lot of my life, I struggled with not feeling good enough in social situations. I would critique myself, cringe when I couldn't think of the witty, interesting thing to say. I felt I had nothing to contribute. And so I stayed silent, and I disliked myself even more for it. I didn't want to talk or share what I was really thinking because, when I compared myself to everyone else, I felt what I had to say was worthless.
We each have a voice--and not just a voice we can hear. It is a voice we can feel. It is a voice that brings rescue, or a voice that creates community, or a voice that instills order, or a voice that encourages life to spring forth straight from the desert ground.
We each have our stories to tell and our distinct personalities to share. We are not made to be anyone else other than who He has created us to be.
Yet, as a woman who has hit bottom and let God in to heal me, again and again, I can still compare myself to the words and the images and the status updates and witty tweets I encounter on the internet. As much as I appreciate the internet as this amazing tool to connect with women with whom I might never otherwise meet, I can feel bad about myself when I let myself believe that what I have to contribute is not as good as another's.
And this lie comes straight from the pit of hell.
We are made to stand tall, not cower. We are made to be nothing else (and this is no small thing) but the daughter our Father claims us to be.
You, my daughter, are complete, in Me. You, my daughter, are the one who doesn’t need to look different and act different or have more or less to be chosen, by Me. You are the one I have chosen. You are the one I want. I can’t take my eyes off of you, my dearest.
I type up words here because it is my heart to share the reminder that you are loved and claimed: He whispers to the hearts of His daughters, "you are My girls". And I trust God will clear the path for each other's hearts to connect, if we are faithful, if we are obedient, if we seek Him first.
He loves us. He wants us to be joined together. We doesn't want any of us to feel alone.
So the internet, and being able to connect with each other online, is a gift. But if we are not vulnerable and real and open with each other about our struggles as well as our victories, we are not connecting with one another in the way God intended.
Do you know you don't have to pretend, here? Do you know I know that some of you who read here are aching for community, for someone to listen, for someone to say "yes, I know, I understand; I'm your sister, and I am in this thing with you; I will cheer for you and pray for you and point you to God and remind you you are actually the beloved and not at all alone"?
I know what it is like to hide, and I'm tired of doing that. Shall we not hide together? May I be that sister, here, for you?