“A Life as Good as Instagram Looks”

By: Tyra Rains

I have an internal struggle that happens frequently. Years ago someone incredibly close to me said there’s no way my marriage is as good as it looks. They were convinced we were putting on some sort of show. Well, my marriage is a good as it looks, my kids are as great as they seem and we are as happy as we appear. My struggle is that people have bought into the lie that our circumstances dictate our happiness. But I am a firm believer Jesus came to give us an abundant life, or life to the full. In my life that means, even if something doesn’t go the way I planned, I choose contentment.

Contentment seems to be a lost art. The byproduct of discontentment turns into anxiety and stress. Anxiety and stress then turn into comparison, jealousy, bickering and self pity. Wow! None of those sound like life to the full. I heard a neurologist once say, “It’s not what happens to us that is the problem, it’s how we respond to what happens.” We can choose how we react while going through life. No one has ever said it better than the Apostle Paul. The problem is, we only quote the second part of what he was saying.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)

You will find the second part of this scripture tattooed on thousands of athletes, posted on millions of sticky notes, and framed on countless walls. Rarely will any of them mention its actual meaning, contentment. Paul is saying he’s been rich and poor, hungry and full. From reading about his life, you’ll see he’s been lied about, betrayed, and people have tried to kill him. It didn’t change his contentment.

Why is it so hard? We tend to want someone else’s life. Or we want that thing that just seems out of reach. Yet, we want others to believe we have everything our hearts desire. What if we chose to be content where we are?

People have said to me, “It must be nice to have a great husband, to stay at home with your kids, to go on that trip,” etc...(fill in the blank here). And it is. But the secret of my life now is I was content when my husband and I were only twenty and trying to figure out our marriage. We were content with each other in all of our flaws. We were content with no extra money and one car when the kids were tiny. That's what it took for me to stay home. It was a sacrifice we were willing to make. We just decided we were going to enjoy every moment.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t have problems. We had plenty. Often we didn’t have enough money, friends have betrayed us,  death has visited our family, kids have gotten sick, set backs have happened, lots of disappointments came our way...

It’s actually in those times THAT you create the Instagram life. It’s in those moments when you choose contentment and joy that it becomes real to you. Contentment isn’t really contentment if everything is going your way.

For whoever is reading this, I’m urging you to grab onto contentment. Yes, keep striving. Have dreams and desires. Work hard. Learn more. Fix your relationships. But hold on to contentment. I promise, if you choose contentment, your life becomes what you dream of. I can do all things (be content in all things) through Him who gives me strength.

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