Filters have taken on a whole new meaning in our social media driven culture. For those who may be social media illiterate, let me school you. Social media filters are features on apps that allow you to alter images to look like, well just about anything you can imagine. Think photoshopping on steroids. They can do just about anything from brightening a photo to giving yourself longer eyelashes or puppy dog ears.
Before I start to lose you, I’m not judging anyone who uses them. In fact, I’ve used filters myself to brighten a photo here or there. What prompted me to write this blog was how the use of filters have skewed the way we look at others and more importantly, ourselves. Now it’s become an offline as well as online thing. Whether we’re on social media or not, we’ve all used filters. The challenge is, the more we use them, the less we are presenting our authentic selves to the world. And that’s a slippery slope.
Truth is, we’ve all got something – something we’re working on or overcoming, something we’re not proud of, something that’s less than perfect. Whatever that “something” is, it’s part of what makes us the uniquely, imperfect beings that we are. But let’s not get it twisted. Ephesians 2:10 says that we are God’s masterpiece. What if we actually operated as if we were already a work of art designed by God, beautifully and masterfully made? Would we really need filters?
Perhaps the inventor of the first filter was not thinking this deeply when he or she designed the feature. They were probably thinking it would be fun for people to play around with and be creative with altering images. For some people, it is just fun. Though the reality is, it has gone beyond just being fun for many people; it’s become a way of life. They now show up in the world as their filtered images because they’ve found that they get more “likes” that way.
When I batted around this topic, I started to think about the way that I’ve used filters in my own life. I’m not sure where I got the people pleasing spirit from, but it was very clear once I started investing heavily in personal growth and development that I had it. I realized that I was doing things and saying things that were not me just so I could get the approval or “likes” from others. In other words, I was living a filtered life for likes. Not all the time, but enough to notice it.
Then I stumbled across this scripture from Paul.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10 NIV
I considered my goal, my ultimate mission. A life that was pleasing to God. Honoring this masterpiece that He created by authentically being the masterpiece He created. That involved dropping the filters and becoming my authentic self – the good, the bad and the ugly. Those things about myself that needed work, I’ve worked on them. Those things that I could improve upon, I’ve continued to develop. And those things that I didn’t like that were just simply out of my control, I started celebrating and practicing gratitude for them because that meant that they were under God’s domain.
Think about how you’ve used filters on and offline and consider for yourself why you use them. If it really is all in fun, continue to use them and enjoy. Conversely, if you’ve realized that perhaps your filtering has cost you living your authentic self, consider dropping the filters and explore what living life as God’s masterpiece might look like for you.