Bravely Authentic:: None of us “Have it all Together”
Although it’s super common and I’m not sure there’s anyone I know personally who never does this, I am still baffled by the fact that so often we try to give the impression that we’ve got it all together.
This past weekend, my tween daughters both went to a laser tag birthday party and had a blast. One thing I found interesting, however, was that one of the most memorable parts of their time was the fact that one of my daughters had on mismatched socks. She had strategically worn all black in order to be able to hide out in the darkened room most effectively. Black t-shirt, black leggings, black tennis shoes. But one thing she didn’t consider when she got ready that morning was her socks— as per her usual lack of matching socks, she had on one dark green and one fluorescent orange sock. To be clear, these were ankle length socks, so they aren’t normally super noticeable or anything. However, apparently when one goes into a darkened room lit only by black-lights it becomes rapidly apparent that the orange sock glows brightly in the dark while the green sock stays muted. Thus, “everyone” saw that my daughter didn’t have on matching socks and she felt a bit silly in front of her friends.
Not a big deal. No one made fun of her or anything like that. But it was “a thing” for her. A thing worth telling me about within her first few sentences when I asked her how the party was.
She wanted to be as invisible as possible in that darkened room for maximum effectiveness in hiding out. Yet her one glowing sock rim gave her away. And she cared more about the fact that her friends knew she had mismatched socks than about the fact that she wasn’t as tactical as she had originally hoped to be.
I do that too. I wear a certain pair of jeans and certain types of tops to disguise the parts of my body that I’d rather folks not notice. I do my best to clean my house to a certain level of cleanliness before friends come over because I don’t want them to know how messy I can really let my house get. Confession: I clean it to a whole other level when other certain friends or family come over because I really don’t want them to think I’m a disgusting slacker. I share certain vulnerable stories about myself and my mishaps with certain friends, but I don’t share other certain stories about my struggles because I’m not comfortable with them knowing about those particular flaws or challenges; I only want them to know about these other flaws of mine.
I pick and choose which parts of my broken story to share with others.
Granted: a certain level of that is just plain wisdom and common sense. Of course certain folks aren’t mature enough or open-minded enough or close enough to handle some of the more sensitive or challenging parts of my journey. I get that. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about how I sometimes purposefully choose to not share my true colors because I genuinely want people to think better of me than I know I really am.
Not always, but sometimes.
In many ways, I’m growing out of this. This blog has been one way for me to get my true, broken, flawed story out to my loved ones and let them know where I’m really at. It’s been refreshing to be able to get a bunch of my junk out in the open and realize that I’m not alone and that there are actually lots of folks who struggle in the same ways I do. God has been teaching me a ton over the past few years about how powerful the phrase “me too” can really be.
So I definitely feel like I’m growing in this and being more brave about sharing my flaws and failures for the sake of others. I’m getting better at telling my honest, authentic story in the hopes that my act of courage will normalize someone else’s struggles and give them courage to be their true, authentic selves as well.
But it is still a struggle.
I still get tempted to talk a certain way or share my story in a certain way or wear clothes a certain way in hopes that folks won’t think I’m SO messed up.
But… I AM a bit of a mess, y’all. Sometimes I’m MORE than “a bit” of a mess. But… and please don’t take this the wrong way… I have a sneaky suspicion that you are too.
So may I please encourage you? May I please ask that you step out in courage (with someone who you’re pretty sure is a safe and loving and wise person) and just let them know a teeny bit more of where you’re really at in life? What you’re really struggling with? Maybe ask them for prayer support in an area that you’re struggling with? Or at least offer them a simple “me too” if they have just shared some of their own struggles with you?
Just a thought.
Here’s the thing: I really feel like the more authentic we all feel brave enough to be, the more authentic those around us will feel brave enough to be. And thus, the world can get a little more honest and a little more gracious and a little more encouraging. Just one person at a time. One story at a time.
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What about you?
Do you struggle with trying to hide your true struggles or doubts or imperfections? How have you ever been blessed or encouraged by someone else’s courage to tell you about their true struggles?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.