A Well-Labeled Life

I posted this on Facebook the other day.  When I post this type of humor, my friends generally jump in with me with “been there done that” comments, but there’s always that ONE.  That ONE person who feels she has to take the joke seriously and speak up.

My BFF and I tend to lay bets on how quickly one of those pops up.  It’s usually around comment 5 or 6, we’ve noticed.

I was honestly expecting a diatribe about how frozen rice is not that bad and that I shouldn’t judge people who use it.  But I guess frozen rice really is that bad so that wasn’t the tack this comment took.

Instead, she warmly encouraged me that either way, I’m cooking dinner for my family and that makes me an “awesome super mom.”

Which, you know, was nice, but since when did simply cooking a meal make me a super mom?

I know, I know, I’m making a big deal out of a perfectly innocent comment here.  It’s a nuance.  It has to do with the fact that the post was a joke in the first place, and therefore used hyperbole, and therefore you’re not supposed to take it quite so literally.

So okay, maybe this friend is humor-challenged.  I get that.

But there was something else.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something else about that comment that bugged me.

And then today it hit me, when I saw a photo of her husband building something with her son, which she had titled, “My husband making memories that will last with my son.”

So again, okay, yes, that’s true.  It’s nice.  It’s nice that they’re enjoying a project.

But all of a sudden it hit me what was bugging me.  It’s that this is the type of post she does all the time.  It’s that these photos and captions stack up and you suddenly realize that this poor woman is labeling her life and posting pieces of it on Facebook, as if to get approval from the Church At Large that she really is doing the Christian life right after all.

This doesn’t make me judge HER, you understand.  What makes me so angry I can’t see straight is that this poor woman has been taught that there is a Proper Christian Life and that she has to make sure everyone knows she’s doing it.

She is a wonderful, loving, talented, intelligent woman.  She doesn’t need to explain anything to anyone.  But there are her posts, day after day, carefully showing that her family is Doing It Right.  Which is maybe why she couldn’t handle me poking fun at myself and had to say something more politically correct.

She’s not the only one that’s doing it.  I see countless photos on social media of bibles with coffee cups (“Spending time with God #blessed”), family events, date nights, church conventions, bible studies.  Countless of my friends are posting shots of them doing the Good Christian Thing.  And yes, I’ve done it myself.

WHY?  Why do we feel we need to do that?  Why do we post things that over-praise our children, our spouses, our friends, our pastors.  Why not just tell it like it is?

Says the woman who runs an anonymous blog, so yes, I get the irony there.

Somewhere along the way my generation was handed enough of a Prescription For Right Living that we have, to varying degrees, settled for simply playing a role. 

I’ve done it.  I’ve made sure that my family was dressed the right, conservative way.  I’ve looked for things I could praise my husband for and stored them up for when we were in church so I could casually drop them so everyone would know that I was a good wife who built up her husband instead of tearing him down.

I don’t know – is it just me?  Because it seems epidemic from where I’m standing.

It hit me when I saw that post this morning that I know quite a few people who are wholeheartedly role-playing.  Yes, they sincerely love their families, but there’s just a little too much fake.  A little too much shiny.  A little edge to their voice when they’re tired or stressed.

I teach their kids, so I see through a lot of it.

I’ve seen entire families who are playing at being spiritual or intelligent or pillars-of-the-church or athletic or successful.  I know people who are so sunk into the roles they can’t even tell you what they really think – they only know how to answer as if they were C.S. Lewis or Beth Moore or Tim Tebow or James Dobson or Francis Chan.

I don’t know what to do for them.  Years ago I had a friend who used to ask me pointed questions that exposed my own role playing, and as a result I began the journey away from it.  Maybe now that I’ve identified it for what it is, I’ll be wise enough to ask some of those questions.  Maybe I’ll be brave enough to (lovingly) state the obvious once in a while.

I want to reach out, though.  I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and say, “Stop it!  STOP IT!  This act is not going to carry you through.  Just stop and start being real.  Go ahead and be human.  We can take it.  God can take it.  Tell us what you really think.”

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?  Confessing our sins to one another and praying for one another so that we may be healed?

I mean, how else is healing going to happen if we’re not letting people know we need prayer?  Where did we get the idea that we all have to be flawless?  That doing it RIGHT is more important than doing it in COMMUNITY – a community of imperfect, sinful, messed up people, just like us, otherwise known as the Body of Christ.

So I will pray for my Friend of the Labeled Facebook Posts.  I will pray that she might be able to open up and tell me what’s going on – or if not me, then someone.  I see misery creeping through between the lines.  I see insecurity.  I want to tell her, “Yeah, I know, me too.”

Because the last time I noticed something was off with a friend but couldn’t get her past the “not speaking ill of my husband” crap, she almost committed suicide and I wished I had tried harder.

Okay, it’s a bit of a jump from a nice post on Facebook to there.

Or is it?

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healedJames 5:16 (ESV)

2 thoughts on “A Well-Labeled Life

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  1. “Go ahead and be human. We can take it. God can take it. Tell us what you really think.” LOVE LOVE this. Doing life in community. Chuck Swindoll once said that sometimes we act like a bag of marbles that just bounce off each other when shaken; that instead we’re supposed to be like a bag of grapes that bleed on each other when squished.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, that’s some evocative imagery, and SO true! Why do we get so scared of messiness? Birth and death are messy – why would we think the in-between isn’t? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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