A friend of mine got a text while we were having our Birthday Bachelorette Adventure: “According to Instagram, you’re having a very Pinteresting Weekend.”
When I heard this, I was annoyed. “Pinteresting” made small what we were experiencing.
But a small part of me was pleased.
There’s something in that sentence that suggests we’ve made it. All that glittering and setup and iPhone retakes are doing their job: We are now what everyone on the internet wants to be.
When we were looking for ideas for this weekend, we went straight to Pinterest. Where else would we go? That’s what it’s there for. We found some cute things, but we were still disappointed. None of them fit our sister-friend who is lovely and classy, demure and modest, but oh-so-excited to spend her life with the man of her dreams.
Then we found it on Pinterest: A couple of great pictures of a group of friends like us–sisters–all decked out in glitter party dresses and throwing glitter off the front porch. So we picked the bride’s favorite color and made a glitter theme.
I went looking for more pictures like it for further inspiration. Clicking all the way through the links, I found the original site that posted the Pinterest photo. Reading through, I found it was all staged! It was a set of models and a local photographer who did a photo shoot.
This banner image–this photo we thought captured our love for each other and celebration perfectly–wasn’t even real.
When I was in middle school and high school, there was a lot of emphasis on the fiction of magazine pages. “Those girls don’t really look like that”. “That’s not a healthy body weight”. “Everything is photoshopped”. “Don’t compare yourself to magazines.”
We’re so smart we don’t need that now. We know magazines can’t be trusted.
But do we know that about Pinterest?
Do we scroll through boards and pins with a working awareness that this is promising an impossible life?
You can’t pin all your people to a board and keep your relationships just as you want them.
You can’t re-pin someone else’s happiness. It might not even be real.
You can’t DIY contentment.
The more we scroll, the more we let someone else’s images define our worthiness.
The more we Pin, the more we settle for substitutes.
Now it’s not all like that. I can hear your protests. Pinterest isn’t always toxic; re-tweets are inspirational; Tumblr won’t always throw you over the edge.
Sometimes it’s a space for dreaming, a place to connect to your people.
It’s exciting to see creativity to freely shared.
I have always been an artsy girly-girl. Also, I have 5 sisters. And we have a creative mom whose eye for color and design ruled over every room in the house. She made everything pretty and we were instructed on how to keep it that way. I never had to look hard for inspiration or a place to practice my skills.
My best friend in elementary school and I used to sit for hours crafting accessories out of buttons, gluing seashells, and decorating sugar cookies to inedible perfection.
In high school, it was about rubber stamps, mixed-media collage, cake decorating.
In college, I was all about photography, make-up, and recipes that fed a crowd.
My friends and I would clip things from magazines, pin them to our walls and pass ideas and quotes around on index cards.
Not only does Pinterest make all of that more efficient, but I give it credit for the greater passion in all of those things.
People who didn’t grow up my mom and sisters now see how lovely things can be and how to make them that way. More people care about girly things because Pinterest showed them how.
And I love that.
I love the way Pinterest inspires us to make things pretty. I love the way Instagram helps us enter and remember a moment.
But this Pinteresting way of life pre-dates Pinterest. You should see the stunning displays and gorgeous parties the women in our church family throw. They are of a generation that generally doesn’t get social media, so it all comes from their imagination and experience. I’ve never seen anything like it on the internet.
I don’t say this to boast: I just want to call attention to the truth.
Real love, creativity, and celebration run much deeper than the internet’s photo-or-it-didn’t-happen tyranny.
Real love, creativity, and celebration don’t have to live up to the false standards set by strangers online.
We had an exquisite weekend, and it was well-documented. It lives up to and even surpasses all the pins.
This is not because we had the skills and resources to pull it off.
It’s because we have worked hard for years to make it real.
On a shallow level, those decorations cost us easily a combined 100 hours of work. They’re also dependent on ten years’ experience in navigating the craft-supply store, handling glitter and adhesive, and still 15 rounds of trial-and-error. (By the way, we now know what Etsy is for: People buy this stuff for a reason.)
On a deeper level, the love and joy of this weekend relied on 4 years of hard work in relationship with each other. We truly have a DIY sisterhood: We have fought and struggled. There’s 7 of us. We have a 15-year age disparity. We are artists and athletes, musicians and ballerinas, and we cover every Meyer-Briggs base.
The fact is, we have very little in common but our love for Jesus and our love for where we live.
We rarely get through a week where one of us doesn’t have to “clear the air”, offer forgiveness, or ask for it. More than once we have nearly broken apart over men, mess, and miscommunication.
But there are rules that came from learning the hard way. We don’t compete with each other. We fight the Comparison Monster. We have each other’s back even if it means getting our hands dirty (or glittery). We play along even when it’s not our thing. We make time for each other. We resolve resentment after 24 hours (that one’s hard!). In fact, we even a dress code chart. (DressCodefortheSisterhood)
I’ve written a lot about this sisterhood (Where God Has Curly Hair, Wears Running Shorts, Loves Tea & Oreos, and Knows That We Need More Beer & Men, & No Brave Faces) what it’s like to walk through so much change and transition (Where It’s Been Demolished), and where we’ve been a broken community.
But we live by St. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge
—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”
This weekend was exquisite because we had a rare and precious moment to bask in that extravagant Love.
You can’t DIY that kind of Love. It’s a gift.
Oh, how grateful we are for the taste of it this weekend.
We were drenched in sparkling love and Joy.
And everyone on Pinterest should know that Love is real Life.