Do you know those scenes in movies where it turns into a montage of all the good, beautiful things the main character is experiencing? It’s usually the turning point for the antagonist, where they start to get their life together and start working out, eating lavish breakfasts, and cleaning up their home. Their turning point could also be where they finally feel comfortable being who they are, so the movie shows scenes of them breathing deeply on a subway or taking a stroll in a beautiful park.
Or have you ever listened to your favorite song while doing an activity you love and wonder why no one is videotaping you in such a cinematic, special moment?
Harnessing this sort of comfort and wonder in your everyday life is the goal of a recent trend on social media. “Romanticize your life” is a phrase you’ll see in the captions everywhere. The posts feature young women drinking luscious matcha lattes, putting on facemasks, lighting candles in their bedrooms, or journaling in nature.
The idea is to care for yourself so fully that you feel like the main character in a movie. The more you cherish and celebrate the little things in your life, the more you fall in love with it and yourself. You start to notice the good all-around you and make every day meaningful.
It really is a whole mindset that someone can take on. And as a 20-something Instagram junkie, I am inundated with these images constantly. But I wonder if it’s something that Jesus would get behind if he were living today–or even if it’s something he did when he roamed our earth!
I think there are certainly aspects of “romanticizing your life” that God celebrates and calls us to. But, with everything we humans try to do, there’s always a negative turn it can take if we don’t keep Jesus at the center.
And no one is more easily persuaded to take a good-but-manmade concept too far than me! So this article is for me, too.
Here is how this trend could be both godly and ungodly.
Romanticizing Your Life Can Increase Gratitude and Help You Be More Present
When you think of Jesus on his mission, do you imagine him as stressed out, hurrying, panicking, and burnt out? Or do you imagine him taking his time, feeling full and grounded, totally taken care of and abundant in all that God has given him?
Hopefully, it’s the latter, or you’re probably feeling pretty burnt out trying to be like him, too. I can relate to this pressure, but taking Jesus at his word in Matthew 11:28-29 helped me immensely.
He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
There are many things that connect me to feeling this ease and lightness that Jesus offers. It could be a warm cup of tea in my favorite comfy pajamas or appreciating all the flowers in my neighborhood. Taking time to abide and rest in Jesus is paramount and can be accomplished by acts of self-care and self-kindness that “romanticizing your life” promotes.
Taking in all the good around you is such a healthy practice. Jesus must have kept a mental gratitude list to keep him joyful and at peace when he was walking for miles and miles on dirt roads with 12 other tired, smelly dudes. Or else he was just extremely practiced at keeping his eyes on the good God was doing through him, regardless of his circumstances! But I’d bet Jesus took time to gaze at the clouds, appreciate good food, and laugh with his friends.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” So, if taking the time to feel luxurious in your bedsheets or smell your favorite candle connects you to this place of rest, gratitude, and joy with Jesus, that is amazing!
It is true that the more we thank God for the little joys in life, the more of them we’ll see. And we really are so abundantly taken care of, so taking time to appreciate that is incredibly faith-building!
But, because comparison is the thief of joy, there is a danger to this trend when it leads you to constantly want more.
Romanticizing Your Life Could Possibly Breed Discontentment, Jealousy, and Worldliness
I’m not saying that romanticizing your life has to lead to sin, but I’m just drawing attention to how it could since 1) we are fallible human beings and 2) social media is designed to stir up discontentment in our lives. If we were all perfectly content, we wouldn’t be so interested in how other people are living their lives, and the business of social media would crumble. So, the odds are unfortunately stacked against us.
It’s always helpful for people like me to remember that social media is a highlight reel–an incomplete picture of what someone’s life is like. And when people show how they romanticize their life, it does tend to make their life seem perfect, but we have to remember that no one’s life is!
There is one video in particular that my heart reacted to with jealousy. My mind started to spiral down into all the ways I felt like my life wasn’t enough. The video was of a woman sharing comforts in her life that other people thought of as excessive but that she loved. I don’t even remember what they were – probably something like luxury bedsheets, an expensive skincare routine, and a projector in her absurdly beautiful (and expensive-looking) bedroom.
Immediately my heart went to “How long would I have to save before I could afford even just the nice bedsheets? Why can’t I make enough money to be happy like she is? Why do other people have such an easier, better life than I do?”
Woah, Kelly-Jayne. Slow down.
Of course, I’m not blaming this woman for making me feel that way. If she feels like these comforts help her mental health etc., then good for her. But it can be easy to think that in order to romanticize our lives, we need to move to Europe and eat nothing but organic pasta, use pricey skin serums and somehow be able to afford to constantly read old novels and work only one hour a week.
I think this trend can be helpful as long as we trust that God’s abundance is all around us, regardless of our circumstances. But I think we start to trip up when we think that in order to romanticize our lives, we need to change them – when really, this trend is about embracing what has been in front of you all along!
Enjoy your morning stretches. Drink your tea slowly. Sit outside and smell some flowers. Thank God for giving you such a beautiful life. But don’t give into the pressure to believe your life needs to be expensive to be sweet.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/LeManna
Kelly-Jayne McGlynn is a former editor at Crosswalk.com. She sees the act of expression, whether through writing or art, as a way to co-create with God and experience him deeper. Check out her handmade earring Instagram and Etsy for more of her thoughts on connecting with God through creative endeavors.