We live in a world that places a numerical value on just about anything and everything. We measure our time on this earth, the calories we put into our bodies, even the steps we take… on a daily basis. While there are many benefits to the digital age we live in, it causes our identities to be tied to numbers. We are immersed in data… to the point of data overload. Case in point… my son is almost 15 and is passionate about baseball. Not only does he have access to stats based on his fielding and hitting percentages, he also has access to data associated with his pitching speed… he knows his average and max pitching velocity, spin rate, … related to each type of pitch he throws. That’s a lot of data for a teenage boy to analyze.
Don’t get me wrong… I have always been an advocate for data. As a principal, I encouraged my teachers to turn that four-letter word “data” into “tada!” Those “tada” moments inspired my teachers to uncover root causes with their teaching and student learning; adjusting instruction to benefit all students and supporting each one to reach their full potential. You see, when data is used in a balanced approach, truths are uncovered and healthy adjustments are made to yield authentic results. Data used to help each individual take their baseline numbers in order to set goals for themselves is healthy and beneficial to each person’s growth. However, when data is used to compare a person’s ability to another person’s ability, data can become extremely unhealthy… to the point of being dangerous. The reason being is there are so many variables that must be factored into each person’s data in order to obtain the true picture of what each measurement means to each person.
Social media places a whole new variable to this discussion. We are human and LOVE posting our filtered, cropped, and edited pictures onto our profiles and pages. Yes, we are human… we want to paint the best picture for the whole world to see. However, the danger that comes with this “picture perfect painting” portrayed by social media is that people are measuring their insides to others’ outsides. That beautiful family picture in front of the Christmas tree, with everyone wearing coordinated clothing, may be masking the true story… a story that just might be riddled with physical or emotional abuse, drug use, severe depression, or mental illness… to name a few.
We measure our insides to others’ outsides. That is such a profound and scary thought, however, it happens more often than not. And when we compare ourselves to others, jealousy rears its extremely ugly head. We find ourselves wishing our lives were more like our friends’ lives. We become angry, sad, or even depressed. We become hateful instead of grateful. We feel like we are not enough and will never be enough. Our focus shifts from how we can improve our own data, based on our own data… to feelings of worthlessness and overwhelming depression… all because of someone else’s data. We become our own worst critics; feeling like we will never be able to measure up.
Comparing our insides to others’ outsides is downright dangerous and can be disastrously depressing. We must resist this caustic comparison game and focus on our own continuous improvement goals. We must breakdown those barriers and walls we put up and replace them with genuine posts and honest emojis (like what I did there?). By doing so, we invite others to see our raw emotions and hurts; creating a culture that embraces truth and cultivates connectedness.
One item that is almost impossible to measure is HOPE, especially when it’s Infinite HOPE… HOPE that is endless, without limits, and impossible to measure or calculate. Now that’s a whole lot of HOPE! Since our world is infatuated with measurement, the only way to invite Infinite HOPE into our lives is with God. His love is infinite. His wisdom and powers are without limits. He, Himself is the beginning AND the end (the Alpha and the Omega). Only He can measure our value and worth. And you know what... He considers us priceless… so much so that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die for us. Yes, I dropped the name Jesus like a church lady!
With God as our focus, all the worldly measuring goes away; using joy, peace, and contentment as our measuring sticks instead. God desires us to have a life without walls, without limits. Even when we allow ourselves to imagine our future… God’s imagination and plans for us will break barriers... barriers we don’t even have the capacity to imagine with our limited perspective. God wants our lives to be so big that walls can’t contain them. He longs for an intimate relationship with us where we can experience Infinite HOPE every second of each day.
It is my Infinite HOPE that you will place your Infinite HOPE in the Infinite HOPE only God can provide. Do not place HOPE in worldly data or social media posts. Don’t put yourself in a box with confining sides or a location with boarded barriers. Instead, place your Infinite HOPE in God whose love is limitless, endless, and impossible to measure. Your Infinite HOPE can only be measured by His Infinite LOVE.
Check out Hope's book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Smile-Mile-Hope-L-Stuart/dp/1512744255