By Michael Cabrera
I would scroll mindlessly through what seemed like an infinite stream of images; images of people I knew and never met, images of people I admired and longed to be like. I posted images of myself, carefully curating everything, never revealing the messy brokenness of my reality. I knew very well that Instagram lacked authenticity, and that I was searching for something that was nowhere to be found on that app, yet I just continued to scroll and scroll and scroll.
For an app filled with images, it’s quite ironic that Instagram left me confused and unsatisfied with my own image. I relished in the fleeting praise of likes and comments.
I would view the events of my life not as moments to be enjoyed, but moments to be posted.
But as quarantine stripped away the distractions of life, I was forced to take a genuine look at who I am, at where I find my joy. Without the structure of life I inflict on myself, I came to terms with the innate desires - to be seen, known, and loved - that underlie all my actions. I felt a looming dissatisfaction with the identity I grasped for elsewhere, whether that was social media, school, or people. I brought up this void in my prayer.
I asked God what I could add to my life to make myself as happy as I was before quarantine.
But He revealed to me that it was not a question of what to add, but a calling to let go. In my dissatisfaction, He was revealing to me the mediocrity of the life I was pursuing. He was telling me that His love was already enough, that I really didn’t need any other identity that was not found in Him. He was calling me to be alone with Him, and truly just Him.
Yet how could I be alone with Him, if I had so much noise readily available on my phone?
This desire He placed so intentionally on my heart led me to permanently delete my Instagram account, not because I believe social media is bad nor out of self-righteousness, but because I knew I could not cling to something that perpetuated the belief that my identity, my image, was anything less than beloved. I realized that placing my identity in anything other than being made in the image and likeness of Love would only leave me wanting more.
In today’s reading, Paul says that we are, “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Amidst all the noise, God revealed to me that in the massive slew of images I found on Instagram, I failed to find the one Image that really mattered. I know that Instagram is just one of many things taking up space in my identity, and perhaps life on this earth is just a continual process of making room in our aching hearts. But if I, in my smallness, can clear some space in my broken heart to be more conformed to this Love, then how could I not let go?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Cabrera is a current student at UC Berkeley and is active at the Newman Center, which is the Catholic center for the university. Originally from Southern California, Michael loves architecture, all things design, boba, making omelettes, and finding Beauty itself in every moment.