Life Online: When My Motivations Are Ugly

October 28, 2014

photoLast weekend I did something a little bit crazy: I started working on crafting our Christmas cards. In October. We took our photos incredibly early this year because, after years of taking our photos in the freezing cold of mid-November, I promised myself last year that we would take the photos when it was still warm and pretty outside for a more pleasant experience. And because Joe got braces last week, he preferred to have the photos taken before his 3-month stint with the extra hardware on his teeth.

Like last year, I just couldn’t fathom spending so much money on overpriced cards from Minted, no matter how pretty the gold foil might be, so I designed a little message in Photoshop and had the cards printed for less than $15 from Target Photo. Then, I decided to back them on craft paper and tie a ribbon on top, which was a lot more work than Minted but saved a bunch of money. Worth it? I think so, especially when I got a 3 month jump start on the whole process.

While I was crafting the cards on Saturday night while watching football with Joe, I snapped the photo above and posted it to Instagram. And immediately after doing so, I got a pit in the bottom of my stomach. I realized that what I really wanted in that moment was to hear people say nice things about my family, about how cute we looked and how crafty and on top of my game I was for making my cards so far in advance. My motivations were not pure. In fact, the heart behind my post was a little bit ugly.

You see, since I got back from Influence, I’ve been thinking a lot about my online life. About what type of message I put out on social media and about the intentions behind what I post. Most of the time when I post something to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter it’s because it’s a joyful moment or because I want to share our life with others or because I want to start a conversation and keep things real. But other times, like last weekend, I use social media as a tool to build myself up, and that’s just wrong. It wasn’t that the image itself was bad, since personally I like to look at pretty pictures on Instagram more than I like seeing photos of a messy kitchen counter. It was a heart issue.

That photo in our Christmas card above? Well the day it was taken, my birthday, I was behaving like a spoiled child. I snapped at my mom, who graciously agreed to take our photo, and got frustrated with our dogs, who weren’t in the mood to cooperate for a photo when there were birds to bark at. I complained about the way my legs looked and my relentless pregnancy headache. The entire day I acted like the worst type of birthday princess imaginable.

Although we send out a shiny, polished Christmas card each year (with both dogs looking at the camera, none the less!) what I really want to write in my Christmas card letter this year is this:

“Merry Christmas from the Hofmeyers! In our photo we may look like we’ve got it all together, but we don’t. We’re perfectly imperfect and incredibly thankful for a Savior who came to this earth to  die for our sins.”

In fact, if you get a card from us this year, don’t be surprised if I include a little something like that in our letter. I’m totally serious!

I would love to hear from you. How do you decide what to post online? (Or is it even something you think about?) 


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  • Reply Jenn from much to my delight October 28, 2014 at 11:47 am

    You are really a breath of fresh air. I enjoy your candor, your honesty, and your insight into your own thoughts and behaviors. Thanks for putting yourself out there in that way, and helping us all feel more normal!

    • Reply Amanda October 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Agreed! This was one of the most real posts I’ve ever read. Thanks for being so candid with your readers!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Jenn. It’s not always easy to put my less-than-admirable thoughts and actions out there, but I appreciate when others do so. Just trying to do the same!

  • Reply Kristin October 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I’ve refrained from even using IG lately just because I think, “Why am I posting this? Is there a point behind it?” I don’t want others to think I’m fishing for compliments (because I don’t know if I am or not, really) and we can only look at so many dog pictures. I know how seeing “perfect” lives can make me feel, and I don’t want to do that to others. So I’ve just kind of stopped and it’s a bit of an impasse.
    Honestly, good for you for taking care of your cards early. I really don’t see how it’s EVER possible to get things like this done with everyone still happy by the end of the day.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      Ugh, Kristin, I know! I do love Instagram because I feel like it’s mostly positive and uplifting/inspiring (more so than Facebook, which just drives me batty) but sometimes I feel I spend way too much time on Insta or thinking about what I’m going to post, etc. I wish I knew what the healthy balance was, but I’m certainly still trying to figure it out!

  • Reply Amanda October 28, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    MADISON! You are a shining light in the world of blogging. I’m so, so tired of seeing bloggers post things that all of their readers can “read” right through. Imperfections are what we long to see, even if they’re accompanied by a pretty picture. Seriously, by being obedient and honest, you’re changing the way blogging is done. You’re leading the charge for the redemption of blogging into an honest and candid place. And that is so needed.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Thank you, Amanda. Seriously, what a kind thing to say. In the long run, it’s just so much easier to be authentic and real. It’s what I value most when I read other blogs, so I try to do the same. God’s certainly convicting me of some heart issues that need to change!

  • Reply Katie October 28, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you for being so honest and open. It takes bravery to do that!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks, Katie!

  • Reply Natalie Lynn Borton October 28, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I totally hear you on this, though I suppose I view social media (at least Instagram) a bit differently. To me, it’s a tool for seeing life through a positive lens, celebrating little moments and seeing the beauty in small things. That being said, I do appreciate honesty and vulnerability in the blogs that I read, so I try to balance out my pretty Instagram photos with more raw authenticity in writing 😉

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Oh absolutely! I don’t necessarily think there is anything wrong with the pretty pictures on Instagram (I really liked Robin’s post on not making everything “fake real” just for the sake of being relatable) but for me I just felt that my heart needed changing in that moment. I try hard to keep my intentions genuine, but sometimes I can feel that desire to glorify myself or my family sneak in under the disguise of something else, if that makes sense. I’m certainly not going to be putting up pictures of dirty dishes on Insta any time soon. Because, gross! 😉

  • Reply allisonramsing October 28, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    I love how real and vulnerable you are! I had Peter take some blogging pictures this morning before work and acted the same way that you’re describing in today’s post. Ugh, so not proud of it, but thankful that you’re being real about your photoshoot!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      Glad to know I’m not alone in being a bit less than admirable in front of the camera. Thanks so much for being open enough to share, Allison! 🙂

  • Reply Bridget Black October 28, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Really admirable, Madison. And equally inspiring! This shines even more light on God’s grace that we are so blessed to receive….. your honesty is so appreciated.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks, Bridget! And thanks for sending along that recommendation of the sermon to listen to. I’m going to give it a listen soon! 🙂

  • Reply Kayla October 28, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Madison, thank you for this post! All things I’ve wrestled + thought about since Influence, too. And your story about your family pictures made me LOL. We’ve all been there, sister. 😉 Grace upon grace, right? Thankful for you and your beautiful heart!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      That was one of the biggest take-aways for me from Influence, the fact that it’s not really about the picture itself but the heart behind the picture and the words that matters. 🙂 So thankful for grace! And for your friendship.

  • Reply Courtney :--] October 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    You are great because how honest you are! We all do it–put our best out there, and if people only new what was behind the scenes. Thanks for being real! As for the cards, I loved seeing the instagram, and hope you’ll snap a pic of what the finished product looks like!! 🙂

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      Absolutely, Courtney! I will certainly be sharing the final product. I’m not the craftiest person around, but I think they turned out pretty good!

  • Reply Brittany Shelby October 29, 2014 at 2:06 am

    this post was very much an inspiration to me! its hard sometimes not to seek approval and portray your life as being perfection, but the truth is no one is. have read your blog for awhile now and am so glad to have come across it. xo- b

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      Thank you so much, Brittany! It’s SO hard not to seek approval when you’re feeling down from outside sources like social media. I don’t think we’ll ever be perfect at it, but it’s something I’m trying to get better at!

  • Reply Urban Wife October 29, 2014 at 2:22 am

    I know it couldn’t have been easy to write this post…but you are so brave for sharing your honest thoughts – thank you! I’ve definitely found myself in this very same place before. It’s one of those hard things to admit. It’s a tough thing to balance showing pretty pictures versus keeping it real, that’s for sure. Your heart is in the right place, which shows by you writing this post. 🙂

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:30 pm

      Such a hard balance to find, right? I really don’t like when people start being too real just for the sake of being “real” since that can be just as bad as putting a perfect picture up there. I think the heart issue behind the post is more important than the photo itself. Something to keep working at and striving for, for sure!

  • Reply Valerie October 29, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Honestly, it is difficult on social media to find the balance. One is inclined to post the very best/fun/most/exciting/perfect, but that isn’t real life. And sometimes the meaning is pure, sometimes it’s more a, “look at how great I have it” message. I guess it’s most important to be mindful, but also remember that when looking at what others post online. Good blog post, though!

  • Reply Joanna October 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Madison, you are so brave to post this, but I’m so glad you did. I see you letting God move into all parts of your heart and life and that makes me rejoice! And convicts me to do the same. Thank you thank you for saying this.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry October 29, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Thank you, Joanna. It means a lot to hear that coming from you. I’m working on turning my whole heart over to God more and more. And I’m finding as I do so that He’s convicting me, gently, in ways that need to change.

  • Reply ali grace November 5, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    So I’m a little behind on my blog reading, but THIS is exactly why I adore you. Your realness and honesty are so appreciated! I can definitely relate… We all have our ugly moments and it’s so tempting to cover them all up (especially online!). Thanks for keeping it real, girl. And btw- I do love your Christmas card and I may steal the idea and go the cheaper route myself! 🙂

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