God and Instagram: ‘Likes’ in the grand scheme

By Candace Echols

You may know that I am new to Instagram. You see, I am a 3 on the Enneagram, which means I am often motivated by other people’s opinions of me. It’s embarrassingly true, so I know that the worst place for me to be is on social media. 

However, I prefer to write things that people might actually read. And a presence on Instagram is apparently necessary for that. Yet every day I ask myself if it’s worth it. So far, it has pushed my writing along and seems to be ok, but I have all sorts of checks in place to keep myself from, well, flying off the edge of the earth when it comes to social media. 

Last Friday, we surprised our son for his 13th birthday with a trip to the mountains. While he loves the mountains, the real surprise was that it was just with mom and dad. When you’re one of five children, time with both parents by yourself is unheard of, especially for several days in a row. 

We thought it would be fun to spend the weekend in the snow and ski a little. (Jokes on us! Should have stayed home for that!) Actually, I don’t ski but my husband and my son do, and they are both quite good at it. Me, I get halfway down a bunny slope and freeze. Not a muscle in my body will agree to do what I’m asking of it. There’s a mental message that is blasted to all the cells in my being that says “DANGER! DANGER! You’re about to fly off the edge of the earth!” At that point the fun is over, and I get a hot chocolate instead. 

But my son loves it, just like his dad. 

As we were surrounded by snow and mountains and holed up in a little cabin in the remote woods somewhere out west (we met the food delivery folks two miles away and one of them just gave up and took our food home to her own family), I was struck by an immediate juxtaposition, a stark contrast between what I have been coached to do as a writer in making my name big on social media versus what my husband is teaching my son to do: recognizing how small he is in the grand scheme of things.

As people, it is extremely healthy to flex our muscles while we have breath in our lungs and see what we can contribute to making this place better (as I am trying to do with my writing), but it seems best to do that it after we have spent a minute contemplating our own smallness. The pursuit of wisdom, what we talk about here in this column, must start with humility, or a sense that we don’t actually know it all. The mountains are a fantastic place to cultivate a perspective of humility. Instagram, on the other hand, is not. 

This column has been revelatory for me. I thought I could write about wisdom while only hinting at God, so as not to offend you the reader. As I’ve already mentioned, I care too much about whether you like me, and I understand that not everyone feels the same way about God. 

But as it turns out, I’m more worried about offending God than I am you, and that is as it should be. After all, he created the mountains and the weather and even me, and my dear readers, as wonderful as you are, you did not.  

I would do you a disservice to write about wisdom without at least giving you a chance to think about God’s role in it. It would be like writing about the sun without mentioning light or writing about love without hinting at the existence of other people. Maybe it would even be like writing about the mountains without talking about danger. You can’t do it. God’s existence and role in wisdom is what gives it beauty and relevance and calls us to awe. 

So, I ask you to consider your smallness, sit in it for a minute and see if humility doesn’t percolate. Then, contemplate the magnitude of the world around you. If everyone else is as small as you are, how is there such grandness all around us? And while our world is full of foolishness (especially on Instagram), where does wisdom come from? 

It’s ok if you don’t know or if these questions cause you to freeze up. I invite you to stay with me as we move forward in this pursuit. I am in it with you and it will be worth it. I can’t say for sure where you’ll end up, but I can promise I won’t let you fly off the edge of the earth, and that’s at least worth a “like.” 

StoryBoard features “The Yellow Chair ChronEchols” by writer Candace Echols. Candace recently published her first book, the children’s book Josephine and the QuarantineCandace is a Midtown resident, wife, and mother of five. She has written for StoryBoard’s Page One Writing Workshops, and writes in quiet moments from her yellow chair.

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