I text my friend Brittani the other day to check in and see how she and her family were doing. Brittani quit her full-time job in the fall, partially to get out of a position under a man who was disrespectful and misogynistic, and she and her husband were praying about her staying home with the kids. It wasn’t an easy choice, but they both felt the Lord leading them in that direction. I admire Brittani’s sacrifice. Choosing to leave a successful career to stay with the kids isn’t a light decision. I have been struggling since Oliver’s born in my husband and I’s decision, vacillating back and forth between if I should pick up a full-time job again, or keep staying home with Oliver because he is thriving. Hands down, my son’s vitality means more than anything to me, so I continue to put his well-being over my desire to work. I love schedules. I love productivity. I love organization. The stay-at-home-mom life is NONE of these. Yes, you can try to schedule, sure, making a baby and growing a human is productive in a different sort of way, and organization can be accomplished (and destroyed within minutes), but everything feels long and slow, and the day-to-day can feel like very little headway is made. Yes, the over-arching output of motherhood is you are nurturing a human that will hopefully, one day, do great things or at least contribute to society in a beneficial way. The process moves at a molasses dripping pace with a whole lot of sticky & messy. Calling Brittani was encouraging. I just needed to hear another person say, “me too.”
What I love most about our conversation was that we could be open and real with one another, explaining our struggles and weaknesses without worrying about the other person judging or mocking our heart’s cries. That’s rare and a valuable thing to have in a relationship. I went away from that conversation feeling lighter, hopeful, and less alone. At one point Brittani said she had a turning point that week, she gave herself permission to be not be okay with staying home. To be okay with not being okay with a the situation takes bravery and strength. I was grateful for Brittani’s vulnerability in her discomfort. We want to be in love and look like we’re enjoying whatever life stage we’re in. We’re trained in this Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook world to put on the front that our lives are wonderful. I don’t know about you, but when someone shares with me a struggle going on in their life, it makes me feel better. Not because I’m glad they’re suffering or dealing with an issue, but it helps me not feel so alone. I know this is what the human race is missing. We are all broken. We need to let go of the facades and be real with one another. We need to drop our weapons, metaphorical and physical, listen and break open our hearts. Within that vulnerability, in that act of brokenness, we can change the world. When I allow someone to see my hurts, my fears, my heart, there is power. To quote Ann Voskamp, “Believe there’s powerfulness in your brokenness. In my brokenness Your love shines and shimmers.” I know other generations before us struggled with the covering up of imperfections and not allowing others to see the dirt, dust, and fingerprints inter lives, but I am sure we millennials are perfecting these charades through photoshop, social media, and entertainment. I find myself not wanting to look like I have any flaws, in my personal appearance or in my home. I don’t care if someone else’s home is messy, but mine will not be when they come over so that they don’t judge me. It’s crazy that at the same time we millennials applaud and praise someone who’s raw and real, we ourselves hold up this staged life as an ideal of what everyone’s life should look like. Hashtags like #realtalk #liveauthentic #mybeautifulmess and many more are the book ends of our posts, parading to our community that we are the people who aren’t putting up a front. My husband said it well, “We are perfecting the imperfect.” We further edit our candid and “real life” photos, check the likes, and hope for more followers. I know social media has so many pluses and there are lots of bloggers with good intentions with these hashtags. I have used them, so please here me out, this isn’t a judgment on people who hashtag or run social media platforms for their businesses and lifestyles. I am questioning our motives and the contradictions I see going on in my own heart and head. I love beautiful photos, and I enjoy having photos in my home that bring peace in the midst of chaos, reminding me of good times and precious memories (I wrote about it here). What I think is, we need to unapologetically and unashamedly break open for the sake of saving the integrity of reality and the betterment of our future generations. If lives are not cracked and laid bare, and our stories aren’t written in full-disclosure, we are hindering lessons, encouragement, and inspiration for humanity. When we’re living for the possible likes and follows of our stories, check-ins, blogs, snaps, and tweets, we’re short changing ourselves. Furthermore, God is not glorified. We put our futile attempts for likes and follows over the priority of giving credit and applause to the Originator of all creativity, beauty, and the miraculous. I want to be real for the pure, unadulturated purpose of being authentic and broken, so I can be used for the glory of Christ our King. Let’s encourage that and make it our intention in all our shares, tweets, posts and comments.
When have you used hashtags like #realtalk #liveauthentic and #mybeautifulmess? How do you think you can improve on not perfecting the imperfect?
What I love most about Ann, is her absolute raw and unfiltered writing style. It’s refined in truth and blessings. If you have an ear to hear transparent thoughts on spirituality, you will receive God’s prophetic word. She goes on in her book how to live cruciform, in a shape that’s both and picture of Christ and what happens to our hearts when they’re aligned with Christ’s calling in our lives. As we live amongst our family and friends, and with whom all we encounter, that our broken and surrendered lives will pour out the rich love God fills us with each day. “If I step into brokenness it will make abundance.”