Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dear Daughter... Keeping It Real

By request of several friends, I've been asked to continue my Dear Daughter series. Yes, they are for my daughters, things I want to say about life and becoming a godly woman, but they are for all of us, myself included! I hope you find inspiration and perhaps even a springboard for conversation with your own daughter.

Dear Daughter,

How real should we be in front of others?

Lately, I've seen and heard a lot of comments about the idea of being transparent. The premise is, if you're not real, no one can relate to you. Without transparency, others won't let you in their life to help them because they think you really don't understand. Sounds reasonable.

There's plenty of "transparency" on facebook. Seems like it's the new venue for letting it all hang out. And it's not just teens, but people of all ages revealing attitudes, thoughts, and their wildest desires. And then there's the blog world. This past week, I read a blog that was slamming another blog tongue and cheek over the fact that they weren't being real. In doing so, they were very transparent! However, I can congratulate them that in this situation they were not being hypocritical.

On the other hand, there are those who have set the standard so high that they don't want to give the appearance of not living up to the very standard they are proposing, so they stay as far away from being real as possible (and often without realizing it). These are the commenters and bloggers who seem to have the "perfect life"; every room in order, children happily and cheerfully obeying, dinner on time with all the trimmings, and husband who takes them out on date nights regularly without a hitch. Not a hiccup to be seen for miles in any direction!

The good thing about some of these "unreal" comments or blogs is that they are often the very same people that inspire us to strive further than we are currently reaching. This can give us a good kick in the pants to get up and get busy. They display the beauty that our hearts are seeking after and aspire to bring into our own homes (unfortunately, they can also make us discouraged to the point that we give up and think our lives are never going to be "perfect"). But let me ask you... have you ever really been "inspired" by a blogger who poured out all the "real" in her life post after post after post? You may have been entertained, but were you motivated and energized? And what about that friend whose "real" comments on facebook are endless? Did it draw you to or away from that person after a while?

Computers aren't the only place we get these diverse misconceptions. For years we've known that magazines, television, and movies were purveyors of this sort of discontentment. But let's get even more "real"... how often have we looked at our friends sitting in the pews around us at church and thought "they wouldn't understand... their lives are prefect" or "their husbands are wonderful godly men" or "how come they can do it all and I can't" even get dinner on time?" And that's just for starters! We're skilled craftsmen at all kinds of lopsided notions when we see only a glimpse and not the whole picture.

Well then... which is it? Real or unaffected? Transparent or hidden? Should we seek to draw others to us and reveal the ugly or should we seek to inspire at a distance?

I think you can guess where this is going...

Too much transparency is exactly that... too much! If we only show our "real" selves, we will never inspire others or even ourselves that we can reach for a higher prize. And yet, someone who never shows one bit of her heart and yes, even a few of her failures, won't inspire either. Instead, over time, she whittles away at the very thing she had hoped to instill in others.

If you're wondering how to know exactly when to be real and when to be more guarded, you're not going to find the answer in this letter. You'll only find it as you walk with the Holy Spirit. Some of us have a personality that naturally makes us fall into the camp of being realists, laughing at ourselves as we fumble through life, while others instinctively clam up and want to look good before others and not reveal our mistakes. Don't be fooled, the root sin of both is often pride because we are seeking acceptance of man, but we're just going about it differently.

So next time you want to let it all hang out, remember...

• Don't assume that others have it all together. In fact, know for SURE that they don't. When you're sitting at church or anywhere else for that matter, seeing everyone in their Sunday best (and maybe feeling a bit inferior yourself), remember what is true (they don't have it all together) and then pray for them that the secret things in their lives will be given to God and worked out for His glory!

• Don't reveal so much that you loose your effectiveness for inspiring others, especially the very people you're trying to relate to. Think twice before posting that comment on facebook and reread your emails and blog posts. Ask yourself if you've included enough to encourage your friends to rise above their current situation or circumstances rather than revealing so much that they feel like they've just wallowed in the pit right along side you.

• Don't join in when others start to get too real! You'll recognize the situation when silly talk is flowing freely and coarse jesting is the norm (Ephesians 5:4). 

• Don't be so guarded that you never share anything you're struggling with. It just ain't natural! Seriously, you may inspire for a moment, but over time, you'll find yourself all alone in your Pollyanna world that you've carefully tried to craft.

• Do listen to the Holy Spirit, and if He whispers to you to be real, then be humble enough to share what He's laid on your heart. Just be careful that it's no more and no less than what He's told you to say.

• Being real and speaking the truth does not mean you forgo tact. Choose your words carefully even when being real so that you communicate what you intend and not innuendo. Once your words are out, they can not be retrieved.

I'm reminded of a story someone once told about a magnificent tapestry they had a chance to view. When no one was looking, they reached up and moved back a corner to reveal the underneath side of the wall hanging, only to find a mess of threads going every which way. What was chaos and disorder had been transformed into something beautiful. You, my daughter, are priceless! And even your struggles and trials in life are part of a greater tapestry the Lord is lovingly weaving together. Let Him be the Artist of how and when it is woven!


And for all my blogland friends...

When you see pictures like this...

remember that there ARE times like this...

And if you see a photo like this...

keep in mind that you may not be seeing this...


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