She was the kind of girl who didn’t know that the proper answer to the greeting, “How are you today?” was a simple, “Fine, thank you.”
At 17, her answers tended toward ailments and bold statements like “my cervix hurts”. I’m not even joking. After a few of these revealing answers to my polite nicety I stopped asking. I didn’t want to know the details of her life. A teenager in a handful of teens we had in this small congregation and I didn’t want to know the drama that lay behind her openness.
Our landscape of ministry has changed and now it’s men I pass in the Center, politely saying “How’s it going?” as I never break stride in my walk. We answer “good” to one another as we move on to our destination which is not finding out how the other is actually doing.
One of the counselors doesn’t allow them to answer “good” when she poses that question. They’ve hidden behind that word and many other things and it’s time for honesty to take root in all aspects of their lives so let’s start with the basics: How are you doing today?
I value transparency and vulnerability but I have trouble finding the line. The line between over-sharing and being real. Or the line between nice and abrupt. And the other line between honesty and politeness.
One man answers, “Can’t complain” and I quip, “You can, but no one wants to hear that.” Truth.
It’s easier to be open, to be vulnerable in writing. Or in the dark. I learned that as a kid. We didn’t speak of serious things in the open. I would write a note and slip it in mama’s purse saying I needed more “feminine products”. And she would silently place them in the bathroom. No words shared.
Sometimes writing feels like saying it in the dark. No faces staring at me and hiding behind a blog title with distance between. Comments are faint words shared in the dark of cyberspace so they are safe. I can be real here. Mostly.
I can feel when one is being true, authentic. I feel if their words of praise are glossy varnish or the worn patina of life. Real is what I want to show and why I fumble at times. Those business events that demand I be nice and not so real because real is rude so I fake it and wonder if it shows. Plastic me, performing. That’s a heart issue, I can assure you.
It’s important for me to show the scars from old wounds and hurts, the fatigue that comes from stubbornness. It matters that those around us know we haven’t been spared pain and sorrow because we bear the label “Pastor” or “Christian”. But I dance around the ‘how much’ sometimes.
Do I share details of why my father threatened to disown my 18-year-old self or are those words enough? Will confession of shame and bad decisions and poor choices, will acknowledging sin in my life make me real enough without the gory details?
How much is too much me and not enough grace, not enough Him?
It helps to go slow. To listen to the prompts within. To trust His voice and His time. I learning, growing, stumbling and getting back up.
I heard their murmurs when they saw I was wearing a pair of Chucks. I heard the word “bobo” uttered and spun around to give a glare, a smiling one, of course. “Fakes? You think I’m wearing fake Converse? I don’t do fake, guys.”
Or do I?
Linking up with SheLoves Magazine for their July link-up for their theme Authentic. Click here to read other posts.