Friday, September 13, 2013

Let me tell you a story...

I need to start by saying I feel led to share this story with you today, but I'm not sure if my words will do it justice.  That's why it's taken me so long to write it--because I wasn't sure I could.  I hope that these words on the screen reach their intended target despite my shortcomings.

Once upon a time, I met a woman, and she was beautiful and had it all together and was everything I was not.  We met through our kids, and only really knew each other to say hello and maybe talk about the weather.  I looked at her and, even though I was lonely, disregarded her as a possible friend because she was perfect.  And why would she even want to bother with someone as messy and broken as me?  We had absolutely nothing in common, except having kids the same age.

Fast forward 6 years.  Beautiful Perfect Woman's kids and my kids go to the same school, and we are brought together in a group that meets regularly.  I don't even know what to call this group.  It's a moms group, a book group, a Bible study group...a sisterhood...a lifeline.  In any case, over the course of the year I got to know BPW.  I mean really know her.

And what I found shocked me.  BPW is beautiful on the outside, yes, and she has a beautiful heart.  BPW is not perfect.  In fact, she has a lot of the same shortcomings and insecurities that I have.  BPW and I have so much more in common that I ever dreamed possible.  And now?  I consider her my friend.  Six years later than it needed to be.

I read this recently in Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst (this book changed my life, people--highly recommend):
We like to identify our shortcomings, form them into a club, and mentally beat the tar out of ourselves.  Over and over and over again.  We label ourselves and soon lose our real identity to the beaten and bruised fragility we call 'me'.  We compare, we assume, we assess, we measure, and most times walk away shaking our head at how woefully short our 'me' falls when compared to everyone else.  How dangerous it is to hold up the intimate knowledge of our imperfections against the outside packaging of others.
Let me say that again: "how dangerous it is to hold up the intimate knowledge of our imperfections against the outside packaging of others."

Does this sound familiar, friends?   How often do we look around and believe that everyone else is so much prettier, more together, better than us?  We are looking at the outside, my friends.  Of course the people around us are not going to show us their fragility.  They don't want us to know they're not perfect.

If the story ended here, it would be a nice story, an inspiring story, a story with a lesson, yes?  But there's more, and this is the part that really tugs and pulls at my soul.  In truth, it makes me want to squirm.

A few months ago, BPW and I had a conversation.  We had an hour of forced proximity on a bus ride and believe me, we filled it :)  But friends, I was shocked anew at what my friend BPW revealed.

We got to talking about when we had met 6 years ago, and she told me that at the time she thought I had it all together and was such a great mom and why would I want to bother with her because she was so messy and broken.  I have no idea what I possibly did to convey that I had it all together.  I could not believe that she had seen me that way. 

We had each let our assumptions, and not truth, dictate our feelings and actions.

This story has a happy ending.  BPW and I are friends and sisters in Christ.  We each know about each other's shortcomings and love each other anyway.  Actually, I think we love each other more because of them.  But how many times have I let my assumptions get in the way of something that could have been beautiful?  How many times have I compared my intimate knowledge of my brokenness to the outside projected "perfect" image of others?  How many times has there not even been a story to end happily?  Too many, I'm afraid.

My friends, I hope you heard my heart today.  I urge you to ground yourself in truth, not assumptions.  I pray that all of us will go forward in life loving others, and loving ourselves, just as we are, in our broken, messy, hurting, beautiful, holy places.


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