Let’s Not Say That Anymore (Pretty Please?)

Ok, time for honesty. You know how there are all these phrases that we use? Ones we should really stop using? Exhibit A: “Doing life together”. Didn’t we all agree to not use that phrase anymore? If you still use that it’s probably because you are over 50 and think that the “youngsters” speak in phrases like this. We stopped saying “doing life together” years ago. We just couldn’t bare to tell you. The embarrassment factor and all.

Exhibit B: I want to see your “doing life together” and raise you a “keeping it real”.

“Hey, I’m just keeping it real!” Let’s not say that anymore either. Please. I cringe every time someone says, “just keeping it real over here!”

Let’s be honest, we normally say this when:

  1. We are fake all other times. Stop that. Being fake and false is exhausting and who wants to be so tired?
  2. We have just overshared in a hilarious and awkward way. Don’t stop that. I love it when people overshare. If you are that way, let’s have coffee! No need to tag on “just keeping it real” though.
  3. We struggle with authenticity.

Let’s sit a little in number three.

That authenticity thing, it’s so subtle. Everything we say and reveal, we wonder how it compares to others. One day, “Just ran 5 miles, baked paleo cookies and ironed my husbands underwear… really nothing at all.” Next day, “Here’s a picture of my kitchen, yes, we are living in this pig sty… just keeping it real folks!”

A few things bother me about this. First, is this what it means to be real and transparent these days? “I’ve got dirty dishes”. If dirty dishes is your “keeping it real”, I definitely want your life.

It’s funny to me that in the midst of all this “keeping it real” we are still controlling what we reveal. We “keep it real” with just enough finesse to actually make us look better (compared to others). “Oh gosh, she’s even witty and honest when her home is a mess… love her!”

Control is the enemy of authenticity.
Comparison is the enemy of authenticity.

I read a confession the other day,

“I struggle with feeling like I can’t quite figure out how other women seem to do it all”.

It is a struggle, isn’t it? We endlessly compare and thus control what we do and don’t reveal. Being falsely modest when we succeed, witty and humorous when we reveal a small misstep. We are constantly comparing and controlling, praying we don’t fail to measure up to the perceived standard.

People get mad about everyone being “fake” on Facebook. Why does that bother us? Are we comparing ourselves to them? If they want to share their good news on Facebook and bad news in person, what’s it to you? That actually sounds pretty healthy to me.

Honestly, I think it bothers us because we are comparing ourselves to them. In our view, we can’t keep up with what we perceive is their perfect life.

How much longer will we believe this lie that anyone is keeping it together? The Christian life begins with falling down in a confession of failures and brokenness. The core of the Gospel is that no one has got their crap together, we all are in imperfect. We are all stumbling towards Jesus who brings mercy, grace and rest… three things that we desperately need. I personally alternate between awkward and desperate in my stumble towards grace and help.

“Keeping it real” does not need to be an occasional #hashtag. If I see only people’s success and not their struggle, failure and fights with their kids then I assume someone else get’s the privilege of seeing those glorious moments. Someone else gets to gently say, “let your children live to see another day, walls can be re-painted”. Someone else get’s to say, “call the counsellor and I’ll babysit for you and your husband tonight”. Another friend get’s to challenge our tendency hide our weaknesses and struggle.

We don’t need to remind people that we are “keeping it real”. As if anyone’s life is perfect or pain free. It’s not and it won’t be. That’s true for all of us, whether we see it or not.

Photo Credit: misselejane

Christianity is a crutch. And other true statements.

If you are a parent, or around kids for any amount of time, you know how they love a good cover-up. My boys can compound a deception with another lie in record time. I love being a parent because I know EXACTLY what they are doing and they seem oblivious that “I AM ON TO YOU, BUDDY!”

So often, one of them has something in their hand. Candy, an off limits electronic item… just anything they know is contraband. They see me, they subtly hide it. But, I know. I know the whole thing.

“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Nothing” they reply in a contrived innocent tone.
I prod some more, “Do you have something in your hand?”
“No, nothing, I’ve got nothing”
Smiling sweetly I say, “Well you are adding lying to your thievery, it’s all going down-hill isn’t it?”
“Mom!!! How do you know!!?!”

How? Because Mom’s and Dad’s know. They see all the great things about their kids but they know the rest too.

Too often, the cover-up becomes a life-long way of living. Even as adults, we are reluctant to come out of hiding. If we can hide, we will hide. That seems to be our default ever since the Garden of Eden.

Why do we do this? Our Father knows. He’s watching it all. We are that kid with the contraband chocolate chips from the kitchen cupboard.

Why? Because we still have a death-grip on a faith that is about me and what I do instead of about Him and what He’s done. When it’s about me and what I do, cover-up is necessary, hiding is essential. In order to measure up we have to cover up anything that feels messed up.

Our inner life becomes like a Queen Size mattress with Single bed sheets… something is always exposed and we are constantly trying to fix that.

So goes the great life-long effort at covering up our weaknesses, failures and sins. And when we do this, you know what happens? Crap. Crap happens. That’s the truth.

My son covers up stealing with a lie. Then he lies about the lie. Then he starts accusing me of being unfair. Then our relationship because distant and hurtful.

When I lack humility and honesty I am doing the same thing with the same consequences to myself and those around me.

Living a life of constantly trying to avoid exposing the unseemly bits destroys us and our relationships. It may be slow but it is unrelenting.

What’s the markings of a Christian? Love? Patience? Peace? Yes. But before all that our first act is one of honesty and humility. We can’t let it stop there, the gosepl is not an event, it is a way of life.

Some people say to me, “You know, religion is a crutch” or “Religion is for weak people”.

I don’t deny this at all. In fact, that just is not taking it far enough in my opinion. Faith is not a crutch, it’s a stretcher. Jesus is for dead people. Jesus is for weak people. Jesus is for tired of the cover-up people.

Who do I want to be? I want to be this:

God: “Lindsey, what’s in your hands”
Me: “It’s stolen candy!! And that’s not all, I’ve got a bunch of crap in my pockets that doesn’t belong to me! In fact, things are pretty messy here God!

All our relationships need deep honesty and humility. Our relationship with God would be deeper if we’d be quicker to transparency. Humility and honesty is the oxygen to a life-giving marriage. We are willing to work with anything, if our kids would just be quick to be open with us. A boss, so often is willing to extend mercy if the employee will confess right away an error.

What about you? Christianity is for messed up people. This is the truth. In what ways can you dive more deeply into humility and honesty with God and those around you?