October 31, 2015

Being Real

For the last couple years this blog has lain silent for the most part. Frequent posting has slowed to infrequent and then almost to nothing at all. 

There are many reasons. When I am asked I tell people that it's because I've had so much going on.

You know-- a relationship, surviving first year of teaching, planning a wedding, first year of marriage.. These things take time and focus. More importantly they take emotional energy, which I find to be an increasingly scarce commodity.

Then too, entering a relationship entwining your life with another person's adds complication to blogging because you no longer speak solely for yourself. Another persons feelings and reputation are now directly impacted by what you write about yourself, not to mention that much of what you are experiencing in life is too sensitive and personal to be broadcast in a public setting.

But there's been a deeper reason. One that has effectively silenced me when none of the above could have in itself.

Publicity.

I have been forced to admit that though I have liked to imagine that my blog were only read by the few trusted and dear friends who leave comments, it is in fact silently read by many who are strangers to me. I have shrunk back at the realization. I have drawn my curtains and shutters and spent needless agony typing and retyping sentences to fit straight jackets of protection against public opinion. In the end, the final results were so gutted of feeling and passion that I have often deleted the posts before they saw the light of day.

How do you relate to this phenomenon of modern society where strangers can be so intimately acquainted with the inner sanctum of your heart and yet never say hi, or acknowledge their presence? In a face-to-face relationship it could almost certainly never happen, (insert awkward mental image of a stranger intently listening to you share from the heart without responding or making eye contact) yet in the sphere of social networks it is par for the course.

I've historically not been one to open the safe of trust readily to people face-to-face. I tend to watch closely for social cues and make little forays into friendship before I extend the sacred gift of trust. My close friendships are with those tried and proven souls who have demonstrated that they care.

Having an increasing stream of public traffic to this little sacred space intimidated me. What if my deepest heart feelings were misunderstood? What kind of people were these who were reading my blog? What background did they come from? How am I supposed to be able to write things that won't be offensive to them if I have no idea how they think?

So I've withdrawn.

And in the process I have lost touch with a truth that I once knew.

The truth that living wholly requires the courage to let yourself be seen.

This blog was once the birthing chamber for a new life for me. It was the place where I took my first tottering steps of openness. Where I laid down the mask of feigned perfection and bared my heart to be seen. Where I dared to share my life with the world irregardless of what people thought. Somehow I guess I innately recognized that being real was the only way to the life of abandoned joy and security I longed for. And in publishing these posts I practiced accepting myself as I was. It was here I first timidly began to consider myself worthy of love and belonging.

Here I first dared to believe that a spiritual insight or thought that God has revealed to me is worth sharing, regardless of how pitiful it seemed in my eyes. And here I was first humbled to  discover that brokenness shared opens a door through which healing can flow to other broken hearts.

When I read back through these posts, I feel freedom, and taste triumph over darkness just as real as I did months-now-years ago. I re-live what it was to see sunshine and light as it were for the first time.

Brené Brown says in her book Daring Greatly that freedom to live wholly is found in letting ourselves be wholly seen.

She's dead-on correct.

We know deep in our hearts that we were not created to live in fear and self-preservation. We are hard-wired for connection and openness. We were fashioned in love to be wholly vulnerable, wholly real. Real with God. Real with man.

Nobody has ever known pure joy while crouching behind a mask of pride and fear, unwilling to speak the truth about themselves for the fear of what someone would think. Secrets carried are a burden to the soul and our masks only serve to indicate to those around us that something is amiss.

Neither has anyone been able to bring light to a hurting friend by asserting, consciously or unconsciously, that "I have it all together. My walk with God is airtight and perfect." The best help is given when we have the courage to say "Me too. I get it. I'm a mess too but He loves and fixes messes and He's fixing me."

As a whole, the blogging platform (along with the rest of the Internet social scene) has veered away from openness. Other bloggers may remember the days of long newsy posts, where personal experiences were openly shared and posts got comments instead of likes. Now blogs are full of "7 ways" "8 types" and "9 secrets" and the author is safely hidden behind stunning photographs and links from other sites. That's not all bad of course, but part of me misses the personability-- when bloggers felt like neighbors and good friends chatting over lunch.

I miss just being me.

And when I really stop to think about it, I realize that I didn't lose anything by being free and open in this space. To the contrary, I gained. I've gained friendships I never would have had otherwise --some of my best and dearest. I've gained confidence and a healthier view of life.

And there is still much to be gained. 

Shyness is selfishness after all, and freedom from selfishness is a lovely thing indeed.

I'm not closing this with some promise to write more-- time and energy to write are, after all, scarce commodities-- but I do promise to write more. More real stuff.

Welcome, friends and strangers. I'm glad you're here. Oh and, hey,-- while we're talking-- just wanted to throw out there that leaving a comment can mean the world to a blogger.. Sometimes it's nice to get to know the ears that are listening. And who knows? Maybe we'll become best of friends!


Note: Real means a lot of different things in our society today. Some people believe that broadcasting gory personal details to strangers constitutes bring real. I disagree. Instead of enhancing connection, this actually leads to disconnection as people squirm away from the awkwardness of listening to extremely personal information.
The definition of "being real" throughout this post is referring to the quality of communication that comes when we let down our guard of fear and share what is deeply meaningful to us without caring if everyone gets it or understands. This authenticity enhances connection and leads to a more wholesome experience. 

18 comments:

  1. I get this. Oh, how I get this. I've done the same thing, except I have no nice looking, perfect excuses like you do. It's hard to change though...

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  2. Reasons, my dear, reasons -- not excuses. ;)
    Its true. I think vulnerability is one of the tougest things we humans ever face. But its a beautiful emotion. It feels like pain but it looks like pure courage. Kudos to you for being courageous!

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  3. Very beautiful...Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Jessie! I love your blog, btw. So full of truth!

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  4. I can totally relate to much of what you had to say in this post. Thank for sharing!

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    1. Thanks for listening, Laricia. :) Miss you!

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  5. You stated (much more eloquently than I could have) the exact reasons I began to hesitate with blogging and finally just stopped. I've been toying with the idea of venturing back into the blogging world for several months and have even been doing some writing and blog development "behind the scenes"...but I still haven't been able to bring myself to publish it. I think it's time to stop putting too much thought into it, share whatever God lays on my heart, and forget about the rest. Thanks for this :)

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    1. I think its been the case for a lot of us.. I've missed your blog! I'm looking forward to the updates whenever you publish them. :)

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  6. Hi Beth... :) I stopped by. I read. I was blessed. One of the things I value most deeply is authenticity. Something I'm still learning too. Thank you for being authentic. Miss you.

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    1. Miss you too, Jenae! Will you be at GYC this year?

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    2. Yes, I will. So I'll be seeing you there, yes?

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    3. Potentially... :) We'll be there for pre-conference for sure because Josiah is leading out, whether or not we'll stay for GYC itself is still out to the jury. But we're planning to at least come and say hi to as many people as possible if we don't stay.

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    4. Well please track me down for sure. :)

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  7. ...And I keep coming back here. This being real thing, it's what real life is about.

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  8. Thanks for sharing! What you said is so very true and I myself tend to fall into the same pattern, albeit mine is youtube. God wants witnesses, even if we aren't necessarily "perfect"! I really appreciate your blog Beth!

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  9. I'm so glad to know you, Beth! What you've written here echoes my own thoughts (and obviously a lot of other people's too), and it's given me the courage to keep sharing. I've often wondered if it was wrong to be open, but I knew that in so many ways, my blog was helping to keep me sane. It gave me a feeling of connectivity, even if no one commented. It was a relief to see that people read what I wrote, and that they knew me, the real me, the one that people could not see in person.
    You have a gift for eloquently putting your thoughts into words, and it's so very reassuring to read them, and know that we are not alone.
    No matter what you're thinking, there's always someone out there who has thought the same way at some point. Keep speaking your truth, it give us courage to find our own voices.

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  10. I am inspired! It is making me think about how I put so much stock in people following my blog that I am not getting the true blessing from simply being myself and writing my thoughts(it can be pretty discouraging when you have only one follower). Lol.Thank you so much, my sister, for being open!

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