A Prescription from Psalm 103
It really is a cesspool of germs.
An infection site for both the predisposed and the unsuspecting; a high-risk environment for even the most cautious; a source of exponential viral growth.
Yes, I am talking about social media. More specifically, I am talking about the ways in which social media exposes us to things like comparison, self-doubt, self-criticism, and shame. Some symptoms include nausea, feeling flush, and trouble getting out of bed in the morning.
This is not to discount all of the positive ways in which platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn provide connection and communication across the globe. Rather, I wish to name the real and difficult physiological sensations that come from feeling that you are somehow less valuable, lovable, or successful than the people whose posts you read. It is easy, for example, to wonder why you did not receive as many happy birthday wishes as your next-door neighbor or to question whether or not your vacation photos or life updates are impressive enough to share with the world.
These wonderings and questions can quickly mutate into pathogens that contaminate our self-perceptions, plaguing us with incessant worries like “Why isn’t my family a happy-go-lucky bunch? Why am I saddled with medical bills instead of bonus checks? How come I can never take one photogenic picture?” Suddenly every factor in our lives comes under intensive self-scrutiny, and it can take a voice (or several voices) of Truth to soothe and treat our souls. One such voice is that of famed research professor Brené Brown, whose words I recite almost daily to myself,
“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.” In other words, life is messy and imperfect. That is part of the human condition, and it is out of our control. The Psalmist in Psalm 103 expresses this same outlook and assures us that God is in the midst of the messy, grounding us in God’s power and love.
“As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him…He remembers that we are dust…for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, but the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:13-17).
So, consider this your “tweet” of Truth or medicinal prescription for the week: “Bless the Lord…who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercy” (Psalm 103:2-4).