Lately, I’ve been challenged to be real. To be authentic. To be transparent. To be honest.
I’m laughing. In that painful, reality-smacks-you-in-the-face kind of way.
I could have stopped that first sentence at “lately, I’ve been challenged.” And that’s exactly what makes the rest of it such a challenge. Or to not be so polite - so damn hard. Authenticity. Transparency. Honesty. Being real. It’s what so many of us want; what we're encouraged to strive for in our lives. But what happens when reality is too real. Too authentic? Let’s be honest – too scary? Can it be too real? Do you ever wonder, "will I be understood (accepted) if I let people see what really is real?"
It’s much easier to try and simulate real. To give an illustrious illusion of what real is – a measure of how much of our reality we think people around us can handle. Or me, speaking from my core – how much of my reality I think people can take before they take a real good look and run screaming from my presence. Because sometimes, I think that’s what would happen if I let everyone around me see what the real me actually looks like.
Am I willing to let go of this façade that friends and family have? I know what some think they see – I’ve played with the word brainstorming; done the exercises; tagged friends in the online games. Lovely, descriptive, admirable words come pouring back upon me like a shower of gifts: creative, loyal, driven, peaceful, resourceful, calming. You could almost imagine that I’m a nice person when you look at them. But I have hard time owning those words in their entirety. I don’t disavow them completely – because I’m striving to reach them. But I see others intertwined in their midst: darkness, frailty, brokenness, fractured incapability, lightning-fast impatience, and above all, a consuming anger that could set the world to flame. Would I still be loved and wanted if everyone around me could see the darkness that overwhelms me at times? It makes me a little bit mad to say, “Yes, I would care. Yes, I still want to be loved.”
At times – so much of the time. Lately – it’s all I can do to keep my head above water – to keep on breathing. To keep smiling. To keep going on. And so I’m trying to keep going. To keep moving forward. Because that’s what you do. You can’t stand still because then you just start sliding backwards. And the last place I need to go is back. In going forward, I am making intentional steps towards something more; something better. Taking my mess and making it matter.
I read recently that we need our messy stories. We need to write them and we need to share them. Because sharing them allows the Spirit of God to bind up our wounds and the wounds of those who read them and are impacted by them. But it's a risk – that trick of transparency – being brave enough to show your mess to the world. So I'm choosing to be brave – a little braver each day – a little braver each time I write. And trust that in revealing my own mess, somewhere, the Spirit will bind up a wound, and spill grace abundant into someone's life. Leaving them just a little bit less alone in their mess.