Are you for real?

are you for real

Social media has a bad reputation. It gets accused of being shallow and showing the world only the best and most exciting parts of a person’s life. That it breeds narcissism, selfishness and egotism. You can after all, at any moment, show the world your OOTD*, what you ate for breakfast and give your critique of the movie you watched all while sitting on the toilet taking a dump.

These types of bed head pics don’t usually make the cut, unless of course you’re ok with people seeing morning eye crusties:

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Usually, we post the perfectly filtered profile picture ready ones like these:

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As much as I’d love to peg Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media site as the scapegoat I know the real problem isn’t the media being used, but the person using it.

I don’t think social media is the problem. As much as my dad may disagree. I think the issue of shallow relationships, selective sharing and spotlighting achievements has been happening since before the Internet was even invented. Before electricity even. You see, from the beginning, humanity has been trying to cover up the undesirable parts. (If you want an explanation on that, check out my post “Showering Naked & Other Fears”.)

I assure you, I agree there is a problem. I guess I’m just more frustrated with people who ask, “How are you doing?” and then look at you like you just rained on their parade when you give them an honest response. I understand there are certain social norms that dictate that the “appropriate” response is “fine” or “good”, but I can’t bring myself to lie if that isn’t how I’m feeling. I’ve found my honesty is unwarranted most of the time, but I figure they’ll think twice before asking me again.

I also understand that not everyone is meant to be in the “inner circle” of your life. That some people are strangers, others are acquaintances, others are going to get ice cream friends and others still are sitting by your hospital bed companions. There’s this relationship hierarchy and with each level comes higher responsibility, deeper commitment and vulnerability. There’s wisdom in boundaries, to a certain extent.

Here’s the thing: Genuine relationship is rooted in honest dialogue.

And sometimes honest dialogue comes when someone finds out, “Hey! I do that too” or “I’ve felt like that”. So even though I might not want people to know certain things, sharing those things can make a connection. And I believe, ultimately it will bring freedom and relief to know I’m not alone, but someone can relate.

It’s not easy and everything inside is screaming: DON’T SHARE THAT! THEY WON’T ACCEPT YOU ANYMORE! THEY WON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE. THEY’LL LOOK AT YOU DIFFERENTLY! But that’s just the enemy trying to keep you isolated. Some people may look at you differently, but for others you may just be the breath of fresh air they’ve been gasping for.

That’s one of the reasons why I write this blog. If someone, even ONE person can connect with my struggle, my story, and find some kind of freedom, some kind of Life for their weary bones than its all worth it to me.

*For those of you who don’t know what this acronym stands for, let me help you out. Outfit Of The Day. Yup. It’s a thing. I promise.

Shame: God’s Favorite Tool

Oh, it’s not?

Then, why do we keep living (and acting) like it is?

I started attending church as a little golden haired cherubim. My perfect ringlets bouncing with each step into the stone encased architecture. My little hands folded on my lap while I sat on the worn, wooden pew. My eyes clenched shut during each prayer. And I was an angel each year in the Christmas program (even though I always wanted to be Mary).

I participated in sword drills in Sunday School. Sat through every awkward dating/sex talk in youth group. Attended a small, conservative Bible College and then later on a larger, more liberal college where I studied Greek and all things Bible. I feel like I’ve seen a lot. The good and the….not so good.

I’m not here to start finger pointing at my fellow Christian family members because that’s no more Christ-like than the topic I want to discuss. My heart has been softened recently in regards to the Church and I don’t wish to speak ill of it. With all conviction of heart though, I feel like something needs to be said in regards to shame.

Negativity, name calling, shaming (call it what you will) should NEVER be used to spur people on to growth.

I get it, some people are big on “calling out sin”. I call it like I see it. You see the flaw in that kind of thinking is that God speaks things that aren’t as if they were. (Rom. 4:17) You may see a sinner, but He sees a saint. Before you get up in arms, let me reassure you, I am not ok with sin. I just think the finger pointing, “calling out” business is the wrong way to deal with it.

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Let me give you a for instance here to drive the point home on a practical level. It’s real easy to pick on girls who dress “inappropriately”. Sure, no one needs to see cavernous cleavage or butt cheek curvature, but telling those girls they look like whores isn’t going to solve the problem. The more you speak something over a person, the more they are going to act like it, think like it and believe themselves to be it. There’s a deeper issue there than her need to expose her body for attention (or even just her preferred fashion choices). There’s a girl who should be built up and called up higher in love. A girl who should be told she’s treasured and worthy of love. A girl who should be told that she’s loved whether she looks like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman or looks like Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie. It’s a worth issue. Bottom line, Jesus loves her booty out and all.

It’s not like I haven’t been the biggest culprit when it comes to this, friends. Let me assure you. I’ve done my fair share of shaming. I’d just rather be a woman who calls worth out of a person instead of clothing them with shame. I want to empower the sinner (ugh, even saying that sounds so religious) with words of freedom. I want to bring a refreshing word to a thirsty soul.

Showering naked & other fears

When I was in high school, I took my first mission trip. After landing in Guatemala, the missionaries gave us an overview of the base. They instructed us there would be armed guards walking the grounds at night. These armed guards would also have dobermans trained to eat intruders. Ok, don’t leave the suites after 9PM. Got it.

Lock down was no problem for me. The thing I struggled with was an almost passing comment by the missionaries — “Oh, and don’t touch the shower spout when the water is running. You’ll get electrocuted.” That sounds serious. The last thing I want to happen is to die by electrocution IN THE SHOWER.

That’s in my top fives ways I would prefer NOT to die. Other ways I’d prefer not to die (like I have a choice in the matter) include: participating in a blow up obstacle course during a children’s camp, being eaten by a bear (my dad has a great story about this fear “almost” being realized) and anything having to do with snakes.

After hearing about the shower situation, I contemplated whether I could go ten straight days without a shower. Considering a large portion of the trip would include manual labor I didn’t think that would be my best option. What if I wore my bathing suit to shower? Then I remembered that bathing suits seem to keep dirt in, which anyone who has visited a beach can testify to the truth of that statement.  Instead, I decided I’d shower hunched over and as quickly as possible. No one was going to find me dead in the shower.  Over 15 years later, I’m still alive so I must have showered correctly.

As I was thinking about this fear of mine today, I was wondering what the big deal would be about being found dead. And naked. I mean, its not like I’d be embarrassed at that point. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized it had to deal with the fact that I’d be exposed. No way to hide.

Sadly, I’ve lived a lot of my life trying to figure out how to cover up. If people see this flaw, this imperfection, this struggle then they won’t love me anymore. If they know who I really am they wouldn’t want to be my friend. Or let’s take it a step further, if I’m really honest maybe God won’t love me. Maybe that will be the last straw.

Adam and Eve understand this thinking. After all, they were the ones who were tempted by the devil to eat fruit from the tree that God forbade them to eat from. Following their afternoon snack, the realized they were naked. Better cover up was their first thought– interesting, right? Maybe if I hide this mess up with some leaves God won’t notice. The proverbial “put some dirt on it” mentality.

Yet, here I am caught in this constant struggle to be genuine and open and yet knowing that there are areas more acceptable to have shortcomings in. The areas more openly talked about. The areas with less shame attached. You start talking about struggles with masturbation, addictions to Facebook or other social networks, gluttony, etc. and people start backing away slowly. That OTHER person has to deal with those struggles. Not me.

Who are we trying to fool? Our friends? Our family? God? Ourselves? Sure. All of them. The truth is there are people who will stop loving you if things get too messy. If they see something they don’t like. You may even struggle with self hatred– being repulsed by your own reflection in the mirror. That’s not how God works though.

We get stuck thinking we need to clean ourselves up before we present ourselves to God. Let me deal with this crap because I wouldn’t want God getting His hands dirty. That’s all a lie. And its keeping us bound up in sin, when Jesus has brought redemption, holiness and cleansing of our sins.

A few Sundays ago, I heard a friend preaching about this idea of holiness. People often ask– “How can God see me as holy?” (I know, right?!?!) But he mentioned that God saw Jesus, as He hung on the cross as a man full of sin even though Jesus had committed no sin. And in that act of Jesus taking our sin, that God can now view us (sinful man) as holy. Boggles my mind.

All of my sin, brokenness, areas I’d rather cover– Jesus took upon Himself so I could be viewed as holy. No longer needing to concoct ways to cover up or hide from Him because He already dealt with it and all I need to do is walk in it.