rebelling against low expectations

Life Is Not About You (And Why That’s Such Good News)


The crowd cheered, danced, and sang along as the band played.

I was absorbed in excitement, the bright lights, and the melody filling the air. Then, for a moment, I paused and took in the scene.

As I looked around at the audience, I noticed how many people were experiencing the concert through the lens of their phone’s camera. Many were taking videos and pictures and posting them on their Snapchat stories or Instagram.

One girl was even FaceTiming with a friend. Don’t get me wrong, I took a few pictures and videos too, and I even posted one on Instagram. I’m really glad that I have those pictures to remember the night by.

However, something about this scene bothered me. I was in a building packed with 2,000 young people, but I wonder how many of us were completely present?

Is our effort to capture memories actually hindering our ability to make them?

As I look at my life and the lives of others around me, sometimes I feel like we are all living in competition for the spotlight.

We are all striving for more followers, friends, favorites, likes, and retweets. With a couple of clicks, our lives are on display for everyone to see.

I can’t help thinking that, maybe, just maybe, we weren’t created to live like this.

I think there is something really special about simple nights spent laughing with family and friends. Memories like that are special because they are shared by few.

In our journey to display our lives for the world, we’ve lost the simple joys. Maybe we would all benefit from a bit of mystery.

Maybe the platform for our story is not meant to be shared to the masses, but in authentic community.

My problem isn’t with social media, but with the mindset it has created in my generation.

It has made life a competition. It has created an inability to truly connect to one another. We are all hustling for perfection, for bigger and better.

We are constantly bombarded with each other’s picture-perfect moments, and it makes us feel like we need to improve our seemingly boring, ordinary lives.

In our need for acceptance and approval, we have become consumed with ourselves.

Sometimes I think we simply need to step down from our stage and enter into beautiful reality.

We need to stop living through everyone else’s eyes, and instead pursue God alone. Let’s learn to connect, to really connect, to be present, to love authentically, and to embrace tears and laughter.

God’s story isn’t bright, loud, and flashy like the world’s. God story is simple, yet extraordinary.

God’s story is much quieter. It’s a baby born in a manger under a starry sky on a silent night.

In God’s story, we’re not called to be the star. We are simply called to take the background in the most amazing story ever written, where God is the author, and He receives all the glory.

We weren’t created for the spotlight. We have been called to live like Jesus, simple, ordinary lives filled with love.

We have been called to serve the least of these. We have been called to one ultimate purpose- to bring glory to God.

Here is the best part – when we finally stop competing, step out of the spotlight, and enter into God’s story, we experience freedom.

In God’s story, we don’t have anyone to impress, nothing to prove, or anyone to compete with. There is no ladder to climb, no spotlight to achieve.

We simply have to accept God’s beautiful gift of grace and live our lives in an outpouring of love, gratitude, and worship for Him.

So let’s live authentically. Let’s choose God’s story.

Let’s not let our minds be consumed with a picture-perfect culture. Let’s stop competing with our neighbor, but choose to love them as Christ has loved us.

Let’s choose to be present. Let’s serve each other in love.

Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let’s turn off the lights, the noise, and the distractions.

Let’s step out of the spotlight and enter into God’s glorious story of love.

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Photo courtesy of Na Art and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Emma Morris

is seventeen years old, a homeschooler, and a preacher's daughter. Obviously, she's not your typical teenage girl, but she embraces being the unique person God has made her to be. She is on an exciting journey of discovering who she is in Christ. She is always searching for opportunities for her passions for writing and the things that inspire her to collide.


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  • This is so beautiful and so completely true. It’s truly amazing how all these things fade as we put our identity more in Christ and less in others.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you, Emma! This article is beautiful, thought provoking, and very well written. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us! 🙂

  • Oh, Emma, this is so well-written and so very thought-provoking. You are a girl well beyond your years! So proud of you and how the Lord is working through you to touch hearts and change lives. Can’t wait to share this with the teens at my church. I’m positive that great discussion will ensue. Thank you! You are a blessing!

  • My pastor at my old church used to talk about this. His favorite example was of one time when he was on a plane, he was sitting next to this father with his young son, who was perhaps four or five. There was a spectacular sunrise or sunset, and the little boy was plastered against the window, just beaming as he watched the radiant sunset.

    Then the little boy noticed that his father was videoing him and taking pictures, and he started to act differently. He began putting on a show instead of being able to just enjoy the moment with his dad.

    This really broke my pastors heart as he would talk about how we’re so focused on making memories that we can’t just enjoy the moments together. Does it really matter if we post pictures on Facebook or Instagram of our day spent with our friends or family? Because I think that we’re missing something there- I think that so often it detracts from the memories. My best memories of my friends and family aren’t posted on social media. And because of it, it’s so much more special.

    Your article was great. You’re right. Let’s live, enjoy the memories, and not try to document it. Because it’s so much more special when you just enjoy life, the good and the bad, for what it is: a gift from God.

    • I love that story, thank you for sharing! That’s exactly what I was trying to capture through this article. I completely agree! Thank you 🙂

  • Emma, this is beautifully written and the message is so, so relevant. I’m with you on social media– I actually ended up deleting my Instagram account this fall because I hated how it made me into a competitor instead of just someone who could really enjoy authentic time with people.

    Love the idea of living God’s story. Thanks for the challenge–and thanks again for writing this.

    Your sister in Christ,

    • I also deleted my Instagram account a few months ago for the exact same reasons, and it has actually been a very liberating experience. For me, not having it is one of many ways that helps me live more authentically with the people around me and not live with the weight of comptetition.

      • Yes!! It’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made in awhile. You don’t realize how discontent it makes you and how much you feel the need to compare till you don’t have it anymore.

  • This is SO true! No one wants to lie on their death beds realizing that their entire lives were wasted – wasted because they were spent performing instead of living.
    Their only joy was dependent on others.
    They tweeted instead of laughed.
    They texted instead of talked.
    They missed out on every precious moment because they were trying so hard to capture it.
    They wish they could go back and see everything from through their eyes and not their camera lens.
    While they were busy competing, life went on. Siblings grew up, friends got married, lives began, and lives ended.
    And most of all, they treasured the temporary and ignored the eternal.
    Enough with the babbling. GREAT thoughts – thanks for sharing them!

  • This message is SO needed today and you put it so well! Great thoughts and writing here. We do well to remind ourselves how polar opposite God’s story is to that of the flashy, self-absorbed one of the world. Living in His story is as better as it is different than any man-made one we pretend to create for ourselves.

By Emma Morris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →