To the friend who’s chasing perfection.

Sometimes I get caught up in the crazy. I think that everything has to be picture perfect, on a white background, with a beautiful font. It all has to match, or at least “go” and look good on my Instagram.

Life isn’t really that way. Sometimes the Lord takes us for a ride down a path we never asked to be on. Sometimes we look at our lives and think, “I didn’t think it would ever be this way.” Or “I didn’t see this coming.” Or “I never expected this.” For two Sundays in a row, or maybe it’s been three, I’ve sat next to someone grieving something that’s “not supposed to be this way.” The tears flow and sometimes drop to the floor. We hug. Or maybe we don’t for fear that we might possibly, actually, literally break. This week I’ve prayed with sweet friends for deliverance from sin and I’ve hugged friends who want to be moms but aren’t and moms who’s babies never got to live and laugh and love on this Earth. I’ve been in hospital waiting rooms and I’ve been woken in the middle of the night knowing that I need to pray. All. In. One. Week.

This world isn’t even close to Instagram perfect. We messed that up a long time ago. But what comes after. . . well, that is. And it’s worth the trouble. And the prayer. And the trials. Job said it best when he said, “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?”

Know what other trap we fall into? Have you seen those posts on Facebook about if people aren’t for you, let them go. . . Let go of relationships that don’t serve you. . . If people don’t value you. . .
Guess what? Friends, we are to, “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) If I’m constantly shaking off that friend who needs a little extra grace, how am I bearing her burdens? How am I serving her? If I don’t sit with friends who are sick and in need, but instead rid myself of them because they don’t serve me any good, how am I showing love? How can I do any of the “one anothers” we see in scripture if other’s burdens are too much for me?

I’m not so good at this. I’m not great at bearing my soul and being open and vulnerable. I’m not great at hugging or showing empathy. I can rejoice with those who rejoice, but it is stinking hard to mourn with those who mourn. I forget important days and don’t finish everything I start. But, I want to. I strive to. I desire to live in community even if – especially if – it means people show up to my dirty house or if I have to muster up the courage to go places that make me uncomfortable. I want to live in a community that bears one another’s burdens and doesn’t care about having everything posted on a pretty background with a really sweet font. I want to see you behind the tears. I want to see you without the make up or the mask. And, I want you to see me, too. If I had the chance to never wear a mask again, I would. If I knew that this world was safe and my tribe wouldn’t make me feel less than, I would never “fake fine” again. And, I hope you won’t, either. That’s my next challenge, I think. I’ll be real if you’ll be real. . .

Last night, while visiting a friend in the hospital he said, “want to see my scar?” (Kind of typical because he’s funny and feisty and great.) His daughter showed me a picture of it and I can’t stop thinking about that moment. Not because it’s ugly, but because it’s beautiful. I mean, it’s ugly all right, but it means something huge. You see, what it took to make that scar is what it took to keep him alive. He’s here on this Earth shining the light of Jesus because of that scar. He’s cracking jokes because of that scar. His wife and kids can smile because of that scar. Listen, we all have scars. Some of them, like his, aren’t even actual scars yet. They’re wounds that need healing. They’re fresh and raw and come with a boatload of emotion. And we’re never going to post them on Instagram for fear of an unfollow. Or because people might know that we’re not perfect. They might find out that behind the make up and masks we have blemishes. We have actual, real live flaws that made us who we are today.

Today when talking to a friend, we both realized that perspective is huge. We’ve shared our struggles and disappointments this week. And then we realized how little our complaints from earlier in the week actually were. How our problems really seemed so small. Our bigger desire was to mourn with those who mourn. To listen. To love. To pray. To sit in a baby dedication or a prayer circle when every human instinct in you is saying run. This isn’t fair. I don’t want to be here. This isn’t serving me well.

Friends, let’s work at this. Let’s love one another. Forgive one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Live at peace with one another. Let’s take off the masks and show our scars and not run but stand strong, firm, and together. United in the One who gives us strength.

I love you, friends. Pass that on.

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