Monday, January 26, 2015

The Real Deal

To illustrate what I'm saying here: me, just now, bed unmade, tilted camera, mirror needs cleaning, feeling both big and slightly under-the-weather and in need of sleep and lipstick.  
Lately, a lot of the bloggers/ writers I follow have been talking about their word-of-the-year.  They've chosen really great words like "Simplify", "Focus" and "Intentional" (isn't that totally the word right now??  It's seriously everywhere!). Those are all things I want for my life, but no one of them really felt right for me.

But then the other day something kind of funny happened.  I posted (on Instagram and FB) this pic of Wyatt running out of our house and through our lovely, Pleasantville neighborhood in skivvies.
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It may not be the best picture or most flattering portrait of my skills a mother, but it was a moment that needed to captured because it's now, and who my son is, and what my life is about.  

So I was kind of surprised when someone suggested that I had gone back and re-enacted the scene so I could get a picture.

I think she was being funny.  I found it funny anyway.  Hilarious, even.  Because:
1) I have four kids and am pregnant with #5.  I have just enough energy -- sometimes, if I'm lucky -- to get through the day.
2) We homeschool, have extra-curricular activities, friends, and so on, and I (try, anyway, to) make real, whole food meals for all of us. These things take time, lots and lots of time.
These two reasons alone should give ample reason to say, "Re-enact a scene so I can Instagram it?  Ain't nobody got time {or energy} for that!" 
 BUT, also,
3) We live in a nice neighborhood. Oh, did I say that already?  The fact that this happened once is embarrassing enough.  I don't need to relive it just for my Instagram account.

I realize the third reason begs the question then, Why did I take this picture?  (Well, maybe first I should have added that just out of the frame was Skyler, who had recently headed out, and Wyatt was running after her?  So it's not like his life was in danger or anything as I snapped this.)  But as for why: because it happened and I had my phone with me, and taking a picture helps me get some perspective, remember my sense of humor, and sort of distance myself from the moment so I can react with a little more clarity.

But the bottom line, which makes the comment that much more ironic?  

And the truth is, I think most people want me to be real, too.  I want the people around me to be real.  It's hard because there are plenty of voices telling us that we need to be perfect and measure up to so-and-so, and it gets very tiring.  Some of those voices come from people we love, too, whose opinions do affect us. This idea of perfection builds up walls that keep us from connecting, and pedestals that are all too easy to fall from. But when we are honest about our weaknesses and struggles, we connect, don't we?  We all breathe a little easier and smile a little bigger and love a little more honestly.  

I go through life stumbling around, sometimes succeeding and often failing.  I feel like I can't pretend to be perfect or make claims to something I'm not because I'll have dozens of people calling me out.  As they should.  

Reality isn't always pretty.  I'm someone who loves her kids to pieces... But sometimes I lose my temper and yell more than I should.  I'm a vegetarian, interested in eating and living healthy... But I like (okay, love) sugar, cheese, and ice-cream.  I don't have a perfectly clean home.  I don't have a perfect marriage.  I'm not a "perfect Christian". 

But a few days ago was the seventeen-year anniversary of my granddad's death.  His last words to me were, "Something bad is going to happen [on the trip I was leaving on], but remember, no matter what happens, when it's all over, you'll have a good story."

My granddad was a wonderful man, but he wasn't perfect.  And the stories he told -- as we drove in the car or sat around the dinner table -- were, more often than not, about his failures and missteps.  We laughed about them, and we learned from them.  I think we all learned grace from him.

It's not easy for me to say or do the following because it's easier to listen to all those exhausting voices that tell me to show people the "perfect" me.  But for 2015, I want to become more authentic, less ashamed to show the real, goofy, messy, uncoordinated, impatient me.  

Several years ago, I would walk my dog on the same route every day.  On that route, I met this woman, and I'm not kidding, I held a conversation with her (for a few minutes) almost every day.  Of course, I was in my work-out clothes, with my hair pulled back and no make-up.  But I was completely shocked (and a little embarrassed) when I ran into her somewhere else and started chatting with her, assuming she knew who I was -- until she said, "I'm sorry... I don't think I know you..." I want you to recognize me, no matter what circumstance or occasion we meet.

On the one hand, it's hard because I'm afraid of what people will think of me.  I know my fear of authenticity -- of anything less-than-picture-perfect (in other words, almost everything) -- has been holding me back from blogging and writing more.  I would rather show someone much better than who I am, the person I want to be rather than who I still am -- only the "After" picture in my extreme makeover.  But if I do that? Honestly?  Nothing is ever going happen.  

So I think my word for the year is "Authentic".  I think this is what I've been wanting more of for a long time; I didn't name this blog "Perfect Joy", and that was very intentional.  (Sorry, that word! I just couldn't help myself.) I want to learn to be more comfortable with being real even when it isn't pretty, or simple, or graceful, or flawless, or... even, especially... Pin-worthy. I want to share my weaknesses because they show all the spaces where Grace fills my life and covers me.  

{"But He said to me: 'My grace is sufficient for you.  For My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 

1 Corinthians 12:9}

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