Share your weaknesses. Share your hard moments. Share your real side. It’ll either scare away every fake person in your life, or it will inspire them to finally let go of that mirage called ‘perfection,’ which will open the doors to the most important relationships you’ll ever be a part of.”
~ Dan Pearce
Social media can be a lot of fun and a help in sharing information (and cat pictures, ha!), but the one aspect of social media that most agree is troubling is the temptation to post only what makes us look good—a sort of airbrushed, glamour shots view of life, and not just in photos. America’s obsession with celebrity lifestyles and appearance has only made this worse, especially for women who are more image conscious than ever.
My iPhone has something on it called Facetime which adds video to incoming calls. Being new to this kind of phone, I had what I thought was a regular incoming call. It was my son calling, and I hit answer without realizing my world was now on live video. I looked down at the phone to realize my own morning face, sans make-up, untidy hair and the dishes in the sink that were being loaded into the dishwasher were on full display. I burst out laughing. “Hello world!” I was certainly keeping things real with that call. (And I shut Facetime off afterwards!)
That unexpected live shot of real life made me ponder how social media interactions are extremely limited in the life they reveal. Women neighbors used to come over for an egg or a cup of sugar or meet up at the back fence while hanging up laundry on the clotheslines, and there was no airbrushing possible. Women were in the trenches with children, and family and the thought of keeping their image glossy and perfect would have been pure fantasy. But things are different today where we are all our own little broadcasters of our lives on social media. We can be more selective about our exposure than in generations past.
The temptation to try to project perfection is the same for Christians as it is for anyone else, maybe just in a little different way. I heard one woman recently express outright anger at a radio program hosted by a female. In her mind, the endless stream of perfection that seemed to come from the program was like a rod that beat her into the ground for all of her own failures and weaknesses. The glossy advertisements that came in the mail for this conference and that (with photos of the women speakers clearly airbrushed) just made the Perfect Woman ministry a hindrance to her instead of a help.
I’m not suggesting that people get on social media and post photos of morning face (once in a while some daring person does that), or that people air every negative thing in their life to “keep it real.” In fact, it’s possible to go overboard there as well. All I am saying is that there is no point in learning things in life through our own mistakes if we don’t share what we have learned with others. Sometimes the only redemptive thing to come out of the carnage in our lives is that ability to point to God’s grace, forgiveness and help. Doing so can be a beacon of light to someone in their own life and death struggle in the dark.
We have a way of idolizing people in Christian media, assuming that their lives are picture perfect. I can say authoritatively that it’s not true, and we need to stop looking up to people simply on the basis of their access to broadcast technology. We can learn much from others, but if the scandals in ministry even in the last few weeks have shown anything, it’s that leaders are humans who can sin and go off the rails like anyone else.
Don’t be afraid to share what you have learned in life and to point to how God is bringing you along. One other thing. When we are going through a crisis of faith, there is often fear of being labeled or judged for not being a strong Christian. Don’t ever do that when you talk with someone who is struggling. Someday you may very well find yourself plunged into your own personal “dark night of the soul.” Instead, be someone others can talk with who will hear their pain without judging them as “going off the rails.” We had all better stay humble and dependent on God, as our own sense of pride in our proper lives and achievements are only an hour or phone call away from being shattered.
I like what the quote says above. By being honest and humble, we can find ourselves being a blessing and light to others. A mask of perfection might earn you some kudos from people equally obsessed with image, but you’ll never be a real blessing to others until you can say, “…I am a great sinner, but I have a great Savior!” (John Newton)