I started following a legit “Lifestyle Blogger” on Instagram a couple of weeks ago. This is my first significant foray into this social media genre and I’m fascinated. This woman is young and beautiful and spunky and I want to be her friend. I’ve fallen into her trap—I even ordered some protein powder she featured on one of her recent Instagram stories. Why? Why do I want to be friends with this woman? She seems to be everything I’m not. And if I think too much about her lifestyle and the energy required to document various aspects of it, I want to take a nap. Or have a cocktail. Or both. Yet something about her and her online persona has drawn me in. Whenever I check Instagram I see if she has a new post or a new story. Hold on a second—I’m going to see if she has a new post or a new story. YES! She has a new story where she describes a new blog post about her young son’s picky eating habits. And yes, I will be reading that post later even though I no longer have young children. What is wrong with me?

After some thought, I’ve discovered the answer—or at least part of the answer. In Eden and Afterward: A Mockingbird Guide to Genesis Will McDavid writes about what it means to be loved and how we’re tempted to be self-sufficient instead. He says:

So being truly loved and being self-sufficient are in conflict. Being loved, at its height, means being loved within our weaknesses and failures; being loved in a way that is simultaneous with being known. But being self-sufficient means pretending those weaknesses do not exist; it entails performing and earning.

I’m sure my lifestyle blogger is known and loved, but I only see the performing, earning, and self-sufficiency. Does she ever have a bad day? There is something in me that wants what she seems to have. Even though I say—and intellectually believe—that I want to be fully known and loved, my flesh truly wouldn’t mind hiding and pretending and letting everyone else think I have it all together. This Instagram slice of her life appeals to my fleshly desires to shortcut being known and loved.

I want others to think highly of me and I want to think highly of myself. But I’m not the only person who wants to take the path of performance, earning, and self-sufficiency. In Eden and Afterward McDavid dives into Genesis and engages several stories of people hiding and being found, and in those stories I discover I’m not alone. In fact, I learn I have a lot in common with the less appealing characters of the Book of Genesis. In the chapter on Cain and Abel, McDavid writes:

The need to distance ourselves from Cain in fact proves us to be exactly like he was. Thus the ethical component of the story is not “thou shall not kill,” nor is it some form of “try to think of sacrifice and good works as honoring God rather than earning his favor.” That would be avoidance of our identity as sinners and would only prove that, like Adam and Cain, we are sinners. The only “application” of this passage would be, “see yourself in Cain, recognize his self-justifying image in you.”

My desire to not be grouped with Cain exposes that I am Cain. (Ouch.) I want to take matters into my own hands and I commit murder in the process. I haven’t actually killed anyone, but I have been cruel and unkind. And according to 1 John 3:15 this is the same thing. This verse says, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” As much as I want others to think I’m a kind person, deep down I know I’m Cain.

In the chapter about Tamar and Potiphar’s Wife, McDavid writes about our inability to admit wrongdoing. He says, “Humans, from the Garden of Eden on, resist acknowledging guilt.” Yes. I’d rather people think I’m not capable of sin or failure or making bad decisions. My children are the same way. Maybe they learned that from me?

But none of us are left in those places we keep drifting into. When God shows us our reality, He also shows us more of ourselves. McDavid writes:

Providence works in all our manifold dysfunction. God allows us to see ourselves as the least (that is, as fully human) and recognize our dependence upon him. In identifying with the lowest, we see ourselves in the worst actions of human nature.

When we are able to identify with the lowest, we can be dependent upon the Most High. Our self-sufficiency and propensity to try to perform and earn love from God and others begins to melt away leaving us more restful in His grace that covers our humanity.

I’m probably going to keep following the lifestyle blogger because it’s fun and maybe there are a few things I can learn from her. But if I find myself longing for a life that is styled in a way that makes it look like I have everything figured out and have no needs beyond what I can meet myself, I hope God reminds me of my kindreds from Genesis, my full humanity, and His love for me—a needy, messy sinner saved only by His grace.