Are Your Friends to Blame for Your Bad Choices?

Good news! If you are in debt or overweight, you can now blame your friends. A recent article at Mashable,Your Facebook Friends Are Making You Fat,” reports that we get more than we bargain for from scrolling our news feeds:

According to a study by researchers at Columbia Business School and University of Pittsburgh, that will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research in June 2013, keeping watch of your good friends’ activities on social media correlates to a higher body-mass index and higher levels of credit card debt. These close connections increase your self-esteem, thereby allowing you to let your guard down and temporarily lose self control.

I’ve not noticed this from my Facebook usage—but I certainly have noticed it when I’m spending time with people who love me well and accept me for who I am. So much of our relational connectedness includes sensory experiences such as eating or drinking or spending. The heart-warmth I gain from these shared experiences puts me at such ease that I find it much easier to justify my indulgences. That security pushes me to eat more snacks or spend more money than I would otherwise.

The benefits of relational security can sometimes come out sideways in what I choose to eat or buy. But not always. My strongest relationships also provide a secure place where I can let down my guard and be who I am. (Even while I am eating or drinking or spending.) But it’s the relationship that’s key. In the middle of relationship, I have the chance to work out my choices—the good ones and the not-so-good ones—while anchored in steady acceptance and love. There I find grace to be who I am at this point in my life—not perfect, but learning to rest in love that I cannot earn but am so grateful to have.

My relationships may, at times, make it easy for me to justify my indulgences. But I won’t be blaming them for my not-so-good choices. My loved ones are creating for me a safe place to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

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