Today was perfect.

On Instagram, at least.

In reality, I didn’t get out of bed until noon. For the first hour or so of the day, I ate breakfast and wandered around my house, trying to figure out what I wanted to do that day. I had a to-do list of work long enough to keep me busy for months, but I was still in a haze. It was one of those moments where you have so much to do that you can’t bring yourself to sit down and do anything. Sounds ridiculous, but it is what my life has looked like for the last several months. I am a writer, and to write means to be alone with yourself and alone with the silence. But if the silence is deafening, and you turn introspective when you’re alone with yourself, it can be the occupation from hell.

Finally, I decided I needed to go to a coffee shop, because I would actually be able to work there and wouldn’t wander around aimlessly. There would also be people, which would make me feel less alone. I picked out a project to give my attention to and walked out the back door.

At the coffee house, things weren’t much better. The place was nearly empty to boot, another place of silence, when my mind wanted nothing more than to be drowned in noise. I realized in that moment that changing your circumstances changes nothing. True change must start from within.

I finally opened my client’s book manuscript and began working. Within minutes, I had hit my stride. The words seemed to flow, and I suddenly felt free. I worked and worked until my phone rang. Oh yeah, I scheduled that conference call with an illustrator.

The day was wasting away by the time I got off the phone. I had dressed in my running attire before leaving the house, and it was time to follow through with a promise I had made to myself. I drove to Lake Providence and ran two miles, on a track which encircled the small man-made body of water. As it turned out, I ran my fastest mile to date.

I was about to post about my fastest mile on social media, when I suddenly became aware that if I did that, it represented less than the truth. What would happen if someone who had begun the day just as badly as I had, but never had that moment of breakthrough, saw my post? It would create the illusion that my life was so much better than theirs, when we are actually in similar boats.

Of course, I’m not responsible for the perspective from with which people read my social media entries, but I am trying out this thing where I share my stories in full, not just the highlights that make me look awesome.

After my run, I drove an hour to a small town near the Oklahoma border, to a familiar Baptist church I had visited a time or two before I left Texas for Pennsylvania. There wasn’t a huge crowd, but I shared the room with several ordinary heroes of the faith who were making an impact and leading dozens and even hundreds of people in their little town to Jesus. I joined in with a speaking team, and we tag-teamed a message for a Wednesday night youth group.

I left the church on a high. Driving the hour back toward the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex, I met up with some students from my former youth group for a late dinner. There were about 25 of us there, and we talked and laughed well into the night.

On Instagram, today was seemingly perfect.

But in real life, it was a masterpiece.

Today was everything the Internet said it was, but it was so much more. Sure, it may not have started out well, but that is the very essence of redemption. In order for redemption to take place, something has to get off track and be brought back to life.

I guess I could simply skip to the “today was a masterpiece” part, but I don’t think the day is near as much of a masterpiece if I leave off how it began. It’s less honest, less vulnerable, less attainable, less real-life. And at the end of the day, I would much rather my life be real than perfect. Hands down.

Jared Stump
Jared Stump is a twenty-something freelance writer who is passionate about the Kingdom of God, the local church, and helping people discover who they were created and redeemed to be. He is a part-time writer, editor, and consultant, and a full-time child of the King. Jared lives on the road, and occasionally in Pennsylvania.