My friend Molly texted our small group what we in our family call “a scathingly brilliant idea” this week.
Her thought was to create an Instagram account called “My Real Life”. She even sent us the first two posts. I love her and I want to give her high fives.
There’s a healthy drive for authenticity everywhere these days.
A backlash against Martha Stewart crafty perfection, and happy clappy Christians who “have it all together”, and women who are expected to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan while simultaneously helping their kids with a science project involving earthworms and looking like Tina Fey (with her sense of humor).
This longing for “real” is good. We’re responding to fakery and stress tied to impossible standards.
But what about aspiring to our better selves?
Are we in danger of settling for “reality” where crassness becomes the new standard below which we don’t want to fall? The “Bachelor”, “Real Housewives of wherever”, Donald Trump…Are we captured by them because they make us feel a little self-righteous? A little better about ourselves and our often ugly lives?
I think authenticity, especially in our faith communities has been an important corrective. We’re all messes in need of grace.
I love Molly because she is not afraid to be vulnerable, but she also inspires me.
She lives an examined life, looking for God amidst the mess. She asks questions that don’t settle for “fine”, but go deeper.
She is trying to make choices that aren’t always comfortable and don’t always “fit” with the culture. She doesn’t want to live a nice suburban life with Jesus just sprinkled on top.
She listens deeply. And she lives open-handed. Open to God’s inconvenient, messy dreams for her and her family, like oh, say…moving to Africa for a bit (the way you do).
We need Mollys.
We need safe, imperfect friends who let us admit our worst selves but also encourage God-sized dreams of being better.
We need sad laments and uplifting praise music.
We need pictures of bodegas and brothels from IJM to awake compassion in us, and photos of the Grand Canyon to be reminded that God painted us a masterpiece of a world.
We need Schindler’s List and The Blind Side.
We need to be present at soup kitchens and sunrises.
We need to step into crises and cathedrals.
We need time outs, and do-overs, and kicks in the butt, and a vision of beauty and better, and grace, grace and more grace.
We need a God who loves us “as is”, but shows us there’s more.
Who’s someone who has inspired you with their authenticity, their courage, or both?