“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Proverbs 14:30

In the past week, I’ve posted a dozen or so pictures to my Instagram, which also happens to be named @stagerightguitar. I don’t believe that I’m a compulsive poster by today’s standards, but I like to think that I do a decent enough job of keeping everyone updated. As with most of the pictures I post online, this week’s offerings fit into fairly tidy categories – live shows (the ones with the guitars and shiny lights), guitar stuff (the ones with pedals, amps, and other gear nerdery), and travel (airplanes, surfboards, and a particularly cool motorized skateboard called the Big Daddy).

There’s also a picture of me beside a rather angry looking stone cougar, so not everything fits into a category. I’d still technically consider it “travel” though, as I haven’t found any angry stone cougars in Nashville yet.

These pictures are colorful. They’re eclectic. They’re interesting (I hope, anyway).

But they’re not the whole story.

No, the whole story includes all sorts of things that I didn’t post a picture of. An uncomfortable and embarrassing encounter with an airline gate agent. A broken down bus that left us stranded for hours. Being denied a home loan several times this week. A beloved family member leaving us way too soon, and the tearful funeral that followed.

When I first moved to Nashville and started pursuing my dream, I followed several successful guitarists on Twitter and Instagram so I could see what their lives were like. I wanted to see what gear they were using, how they interacted with one another… basically I wanted to learn how to be one of them. However, I soon found myself becoming envious of their lives. They looked so cool – pictures of big stages, night after night! Tour buses! Guitar endorsements! CATERING!

It literally got to the point where, instead of being inspired by such images, I got depressed. Seeing them come across my feed would just bring up feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness, and even failure.

I thought I was looking at someone’s perfect life, when in fact I was only seeing their highlight reel. These pictures didn’t include the low points, the frustrations, the painful losses – nor did they tell of the long journey it took to get there. We tend to show off our best moments – not our worst ones.

During a radio interview yesterday, Rae was asked if she was tempted to compare herself to other people’s careers. She responded, to paraphrase, “God has a different plan for all of us. We all have to walk our own path. You can’t compare your path to someone else’s because we’re all different.”

It’s unhealthy to compare ourselves to others, but even more dangerous to compare ourselves to the “perfect” personas that internet accounts often showcase. 

I’m far from mastering this skill – I still catch myself enviously scrolling through pictures of bigger shows and brighter lights – but I also realize that they’re not the whole story. I’m grateful for the path I get to walk, for it is mine and mine alone. No one else could wake up in my life and be me, just as I couldn’t walk into those pictures and fill the shoes of those I once envied.

So go – walk your path, tell the stories only you can tell. Seek the plan that the Lord has for you alone.

…and post some pictures along the way for us to enjoy. :)