This is another writing prompt posting from Ellen’s Blog. She’s a great writer, feel free to check out her blog or this specific posting that will have a lot of other people writing about the same topic. This one is entitled “Being Real.”
|Evan, “being real” during naptime, on the floor,
next to a tipped over end table, wearing a
shirt as his pajama pants, hugging his horsie
Being a mom, it is so refreshing to live life with an almost four year old. He says what he thinks and feels without caution, without hesitation. Not that it is always a pleasure…like when he tells me that my breath “is stinky” or that he’s “NOT HAPPY” with me or that he thinks my latest haircut is “messy,” but at least you know exactly where you stand with him and for the most part, know what is going on inside of him! There is an genuineness, an authenticity, a realness to living with a child, that I treasure.
I also treasure friends who are real with me, ones who are genuine and authentic. Those who are honest about their ups and downs and don’t have all the answers, especially in really difficult times. I also am drawn to churches that have pastors and people who are honest about their humanity and are along for the journey of life, rather than acting like they have already arrived and have it all figured out. Do I want to hear about very intimate details of their personal sins from the pulpit? No, but am I thankful when my pastor admits he fell short in a situation at home or occasionally swears, yes. I know some Christians would be horrified at that last statement, but for me, it makes me feel like I can “be real,” mistakes, flaws, and sins and all, at my chosen church.
I think I’m a real person. Someone who is genuine and authentic. Wow, that was a lot of buzz words, right? But in the moments of life when I am “being real,” sometimes I walk away from an interaction, a discussion, and wonder, how was my “being real” experienced?
Sometimes I wonder if when I’m being honest with my struggles, I come off as a complainer or a downer. There have been times in the past few years when life was so real, I felt broken, exposed, and totally raw. There were moments where I struggled in my faith about God’s goodness. There were times when I doubted I would make it through emotionally. “Being real” during those times was all I could do because I had no extra energy to put on a “everything is okay” mask…to not “be real.” But it was heavy. It was dark. It was difficult. I’ve felt bad for being so real with those in my support system, and yet, it was where I was at and honestly who I am. Those snapshots are black and white, sharp, hard to look at, and yet, difficult to ignore.
Or on the flip side, I also wonder how “being real” is taken when I’m trusting God in difficult times, when I’m not questioning God’s goodness or sovereignty. Do I come off as Miss Pollyanna? Again, I’m not putting on a front. I’m taking one step at a time and sometimes that step is filled with peace and trust in who God is, but that too can be a hard “being real” to experience from someone. To me, those snapshots are colorful, vivid, full of joy, peace, and delight.
When it comes down to it, I will continue to be real, like my son (hopefully with a bit more tact than him at times). Regardless of how it is taken. I think those who truly know me, see both sides of who I am. The realist and the faith-filled optimist. And when all the snapshots are blended together, I hope there is a deeply honest, full-hearted feeling, beautiful slide show of hope and faith in the midst of real life. Not sugar coating the valleys, not putting the peaks on a pedestal, but accepting all as part of who I am, becoming the real me. And I hope that in being real myself, I am giving others permission to be real with me, whether it’s their valleys, their peaks…whatever they are willing to share with me.
I love how David Brenner describes truly being real in relationship in “Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction” so I’ll share his words in closing:
“Soul hospitality is also a gift of safety. Think of feeling safe enough with another person that without weighing words or measuring thoughts you are able to pour yourself out, trusting that the other person will keep what is worth keeping and, with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away (48).
Soul friendship is the gift of a place where anything can be said without fear of criticism or ridicule. It is a place where masks and pretensions can be aside. It is a place where it is safe to share deepest secrets, darkest fears, most acute source of shame, most disturbing questions or anxieties. It is a place of grace—a place where others are accepted as they are for the sake of who they may become (48)…But ultimately the presence that transforms lives is not mine but God’s. As I bring my true self-in-Christ to relationships of spiritual friendship, what the other person encounters is not just me, but Christ in me (52).