I learned at an early age how to bury emotions and pretend things didn’t bother or hurt me. What I portrayed to my peers, was only what I wanted them to see. These pretensions followed me throughout my teen years into adulthood.
Whatever our current situation is, usually determines how pressured we feel to put up a front to hide our struggles and problems.
The pressure to keep up with our neighbors or appear a certain way to our peers, doesn’t go away at age 21 or when we finish school, start our careers, marry and have children.
I think women struggle with this more than men. We compare ourselves ruthlessly to others and the head talk begins.
She has the perfect body, prettier face, perfect parents,
perfect house. Her husband is perfect, perfect kids, perfect
family, perfect job. Plenty of money. Nice furniture.
And did you see those shiny appliances?
We then begin our lifelong quest to be like those who we think are perfect, not realizing they have their own struggles and problems.
When I was a young Christian, I looked up to godly women who’d walked this road ahead of me and were mature in their relationship with Christ.
They had it together. Home, marriage, kids, and outward appearance was neatly packaged into what I thought being a godly woman looked like.
They could quote scripture and knew all the important biblical stories. They attended every church function, volunteered and made homemade granola and play dough with their kids.
Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with all those things. But there was never any talk about struggles with sin or getting too deep with personal problems. So I thought being a Christian meant you no longer had serious problems.
Living in the southeast, I think, also adds to the expectations of what a godly Christian woman's life looks like.
Keeping up appearances is exhausting. It’s something you’d only expect with non-Christians or those who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ.
We’re surrounded by people every day working hard to keep up appearances, while struggling with the real stuff of life; past hurts, mistakes, dark secrets all buried deep down.
In my late twenties, I went through a devastating divorce and became a single parent. Foreclosure, bankruptcy and a car repossession was hard to hide.
So much for keeping up appearances, right? Those were just the material things. There was still the emotional pain and shame to deal with.
This marked the point in my life where things got real with Jesus. My messy problems got bigger, and my struggles were many. I learned that my God was bigger still.
Life can change in a day. Keeping up appearances is a waste of our energy. Jesus already sees to our core, and there's no need to pretend with Him.
Surround yourself with others who are honest about their struggles and problems and who you can also be real with. Then pray for each other so you can be healed.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray
for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16
This will end your exhausting quest to keep up appearances for others.
Where can you find these people? If you don't have a strong church family or small group, a great place to find these people is at a nearby Celebrate Recovery program; a Christ-centered recovery program for anyone struggling with ANY hurts, hangups or habits. That's pretty much everyone, right? To find a CR group near you, go to Celebrate Recovery.
This won't all happen in one day, but I bet if you ask God, He will lead you to others who, like you, want to move past the pretenses and enjoy freedom and true joy in Him.
And of course, as always, feel free to contact me ANYTIME. You can send a private email by using the contact form on the right of this page or leave a comment below where you feel comfortable for others to see.
Let's stay the course, and be real together.