07 February 2010

Can I Be Authentic?

I have always prided myself on being authentic. I share what I am feeling, and do so openly with others. One thing I found when I became a believer is that a lot of people seemed to candy-coat their troubles with smiles, a lot of "God is in control" jargon (not that He isn't in control but that it seemed a crutch versus a true belief as if they were convincing themselves in the saying so), or a sick and twisted martyrdom that seemed to relish the pain.
I had a friend admonish me for some of the dramatic things I was posting as my status updates on Facebook. I appreciated the feedback. It made me take a step back and look at how this was being conveyed. I was wearing my hurt on my sleeve for all of the world to see. This was very helpful. It made the me think about my audience, and what I want to share. This post is not meant in any way to be a rebuttal of what I learned from that person's words, but some things God has clarified in my heart.
In tossing this around, I started to think of people in the Bible and how they handled pain. I remembered these words of Job in his distress:
"Obliterate the day I was born. Blank out the night I was conceived! Let it be a black hole in space. May God above forget it ever happened. Erase it from the books! May the day of my birth be buried in deep darkness, shrouded by fog, swallowed by the night. And the night of my conception - the devil take it! Rip the date off the calendar, delete it from the alamanac. Oh, turn that night into pure nothingness - no sounds of pleasure from that night, ever! May those who are good at cursing curse that day."
How's that for drama? I know that my losses may not stack up to those that were suffered by Job, but they are losses nonetheless. I think that there is a time and a place for lamenting. It may not have been as public as Facebook is for Job or King David, but I don't believe it was done with their head buried in their pillow behind closed doors all the time either. This given the fact that we have their words of lament to read centuries later. This shared human hurt is a place where we all connect.
I have been lonely. I have been sick. I have been burned by love. I have given and been denied what I gave in return. I have lost my house, my kids, my job. I have been kicked when I was down. I have been put down, torn up, and shut out. We can all relate to these statements and somewhere along the way, this kind of sharing helps us to feel that we truly aren't alone. Another person can say, "I was where you are, and I survived to hold your hand while you go through it."
Too often I think we want a quick fix for everybody. I think that the suffering of other people often makes us uncomfortable. We want a drive-thru spiritual fix for these deep rooted issues, these lifelong hurts and there is no such thing. Sometimes we have to see people at their worst - I know that the people who have met me in the last year have seen me at the worst possible time of my life. It is what it is. As some healing starts to take place, things are shifting. I've been leaning on things that remind me so much of the snow I fell in yesterday - when I try to brace myself in the wrong places, I find I just sink deeper.
I really don't understand a culture that will spend so much money on watching the fictionalized drama of people on TV or in the movies, who are so unwilling to deal with the real life pain and problems of people right next to them. I don't know what God is doing with this wreck that I am. But I do know this, I have His permission to lament, to question His love for me, to doubt and fear. He isn't afraid of any of that. He can handle it. It has been through those moments that His love and care for me have become most real and absolutely tangible. Maybe I'll share it on Facebook - maybe I won't, but if I do - both sides of the story will appear over time - both the hurt and the doubt, followed at some point by the healing and the comfort. If others are uncomfortable then they can feel free to look away, with my blessings.


  1. People often feel uncomfortable because 1) they don't know what to say--yes, they want to give me sound advice and change my world, but they have none to give--or 2) they are afraid my BAD life experience is contagious and will rub off on them. It's good that we acknowledge and mourn our losses for as long as we need to put them behind us. Don't sweep them under the rug and ignore them. They will still be there as they make who we are, a part of us so to speak. I often wish my life would be smooth sail, I could do without the hurt, the downs, the challenges...but without the understanding of those important integral part of life, I won't know how to be compassionate of our fellow brothers and sisters and just being there for them and hold their hands when needed. Life is too precious to be perfect. Thanks for the food for thought, Juls. I am glad you are blogging here since I do NOT do facebook or twitter :0(

  2. Love you girl! It's your transparency that makes it easy to love you.
    I know exactly what you mean about people saying things, I experienced that while Jason was out of work.

  3. I love you just the way you are - even (especially) when you write all about it.

  4. All good stuff! I also don't understand people loving drama on TV such as "reality TV" but don't want to see pain show up in real life. Not that I like "drama queens" who love drama by any means, but I do like people who are real.

  5. It is good to honor where we are in any given experience. I am just aware to not let myself wallow in the bad/negative for very long because it seems to breed more bad/negativity.

  6. Wendy - our conversation the other day inspired this post! Thanks for always keepin' it real girl!

  7. Yes, you can be authentic - it is your blog, your FaceBook page! You go, girlfriend! In doing so I think it can be helpful to be mindful that others will be authentic in their responses.

    For those who have never experienced crisis, it is very hard to know how to respond to those who have. In my experience, many want to be helpful, but they don't know how. Some say nothing. Those who feel they must speak use platitudes. Some see it as unseemly to be authentic, to share our true feelings. I think there can also be a male/female issue at play. In our culture men are expected to see emotional displays as signs of weakness. There is also the issue of the possibility of our true feelings getting into the hands of those who do not have our best interests at heart, who may use the information against us.

    I think we each have our own unique paths as we move thru difficult times in life. For some of us, it involves being authentic in a public way. I think if we are aware of the possible ways that others may respond, it can be easier to honor where they are while honoring where we are. I think this is exactly what you are doing by inviting others to look away if they are uncomfortable.

    Karen Smith

  8. Hi Karen - Yes, exactly. I want people to do what feels comfortable to them. What I find instead when I look back at the patterns of my life is that I tend to adjust "for them". I have decided that I am not doing that any longer. I am learning to listen to what people say and not react so quickly, to take the criticism, information, advice, whatever it may be and toss it around a bit. If I find that there is a truth there that resonates, I use it. If not I continue on.

  9. There are no mistakes. There's only learning who we are, and who we are not. "Mistakes" are a God-given vehicle for self/Self-discovery.

    No shame, no blame, no oughts, no shoulding on ourselves (or others). Just being.

    If I could sum up the gospel: "No one is in trouble."

    Keep being who you are ... you are emerging, evolving ... discovering who you really are, who God really is (and how they're the same thing).

    Shalom, Dena


Awaiting your words......
♥ Juls ♥