Toben's Uncle Jim always says that there's a story behind every story. Don't be so quick to jump to conclusions, he'd tell Toben. There's a reason why that person dresses that way, looks that way, did that thing. There's a story behind every story.
But how often do we rush past, not taking the time to look beyond the cute haircut, the great (or not so great!) outfit, the cute shoes, the well-designed blog to see who is really there.
The truth is, many of us often look like we have it together on the outside. We present ourselves to the world around us as put together, made up, coordinated, and confident. And maybe that's true. Maybe there are people out there who are that together--both outside and inside. I've just not met any of them yet. But for most of us, I'm guessing that it's only partly true.
Maybe some of it is an effort to control the controllable when other things feel out of control. Maybe some of it is an effort to make ourselves feel better on those days when we don't feel okay, when the truth is simply that a cute outfit or a really good hair day or a new pair of jeans goes a long way to help us overcome sorrow or weariness or heartache or grief. (It may be shallow, but it's true.)
It's not like we want to wear masks. And I don't think that's what we're doing really. I think it's more a matter of learning who is safe, what is private, where the boundary line is drawn when it comes to revealing the nitty gritty of what's going on underneath the outward appearance of things.
That and the fact that there is always--always--more going on under the surface than people can see at first glance.
And ultimately, the details of my struggle--of yours--are on a need to know basis. It's enough to know that struggle is present and that God knows the details and we can pray and love and support without knowing them ourselves. All too often we get caught up in wanting to know the details and the ins and outs of who said what or did what to who rather than just accepting the fact that there's hurt or sorrow or conflict there.
I had coffee with a friend this morning and we talked through some of this. Of the careful process of learning how much to say and to whom. Of the huge importance of looking beyond the surface to really seeing others as more than just an outward package. Of the difficult place when you realize you've said too much and feel exposed and vulnerable and unsafe.
Of course, we need those friends who do know the ins and outs. All the details--the good, the bad, and the really, really ugly--and love us anyway. I guess I'm talking more about casual friends, acquaintances, the people you know, but not really. That's more where this gets worked out, I think. Those relationships based more on perception than actual knowledge.
I'm feeling melancholy today. It's just on my mind, what I'm thinking about today. A reminder to myself that things aren't always as they seem, that the same grace I want others to give me is the grace I need to extend.
Feeling like this is sort of random, not making much sense. But some of blogging is journaling and figuring stuff out as I type. So this is what I've got right now. Wondering how to be more careful about what I say, what I share, and still be real.
How do you navigate this? Where's the balance between being private and being stand-offish?How do you know what to share and what not to share? Thoughts?