Y’all.  I have a bit of a soapbox today.  You’ve been warned.  Here it goes…

As a society, I think we caught onto the whole airbrushing phenomenon a while ago.  When we see flawless models on billboards with bodies that make us normal women wanna puke, we know that they have been airbrushed.  (Or that they’re just some rare breed of human that doesn’t break out, wrinkle, gray, or bloat.  And if that’s you, by all means, go for the billboards.)  I would also like to think that most of us cognitively understand that those perfectly decorated rooms with those perfectly adorned people in those perfectly annoying home magazines are staged (and professionally decorated and cleaned for that matter).  You guys, they’re fake!  Or mostly fake at least.  And yet, we chose to idolize these emblems of perfection, pouring our energy into achieving the same.

We get the airbrushing and the staging, but how is this translated in our day-to-day lives?  How does this play out relationally?  Because, ya know, I’d venture a guess that most of us are doing the same sort of thing.  We paint the portraits of our lives as being something it just, well… isn’t.  How much time do we spend gushing over our children and careers and marriages which, on the surface, may seem flawlessly put together?  Are we unintentionally photoshopping our lives for the purpose of our self-preservation and pride?  Yikes, I know.  I know ‘cuz I’ve so been there.

I’ve mentioned before that my group of friends in high school was dubbed the “shiny hair girls” because, simply put, people assumed we had it all together.  We were students and athletes and were just good kids (or, perhaps more accurately, we just evaded trouble when we were bad).  We all went on to top-ranked universities as predicted, but it was not long after I stepped foot onto my college campus to realize that I was now merely average in a sea of others who seemed far more accomplished.  I could try all.day.long. to stand out, but to no avail.  The pressure to get the grades and get the guy and get the perfect group of life-long friends was mounting, and I just knew there was no way I could keep up with the other seemingly illustrious lives around me.  So, long story short, I starved myself to a diagnosis of anorexia.  I saw perfection in everyone else around me, so in desperation, I sought my own semblance of perfection in the only way I thought I could.  In God’s mercy, I was delivered from that dark season of eating disorder hell into a greater understanding of His infinite grace.  And I began to realize, perhaps for the first time ever, that I didn’t need to fit some falsely imposed measure of perfection because Christ had already been perfect on my behalf.

Fast forward to 2013, one husband and three kids later.  Life is vastly different, and yet so much remains the same.  Namely, the pressure to have it all perfectly put together.  In this season, rather than competing academically or socially, we subconsciously find ourselves competing in our home lives and our Christian walks.  We openly share about our Bible studies and our marital bliss and the countless accolades of our darling children while sweeping our “dirty little secrets” under the carpet.  We hide our flawed reality and instead promote some staged, airbrushed misrepresentation of life.  And, quite frankly, it’s a lie.  I’ve done it. Shoot, I do it.  Because it’s so much easier.  But in doing so, we’re essentially preaching a works-righteousness theology.  That we’re worthy because of our “goodness”.  That we’re deserving of love because of what we have accomplished.

Oh and this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Because we all know that, despite the myth that others might be believing, no one has it all together.  No marriage is perfect.  No child is always that darling.  And no one deserves God’s grace.  Any goodness or worth we have comes from Christ alone.  So, as we all try to navigate this life here on earth together, let’s stop pretending and start being real.  Let’s be okay with sharing our issues and failures, good days and bad, with our peers, thus freeing them up to realize that they just may not be alone in their struggles after all.  Let’s do away with that works-righteousness airbrushed-life mess and freely admit that we’re screwed up sinners with imperfect lives saved by a majestic and merciful Savior.  Because, you guys, it seriously can’t get much more awesome than that.

And now I’ll step down from my soapbox.  Y’all carry on.  Imperfectly.

7 Comments on the airbrushed life

  1. Amen and Amen. And Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram etc are not helping contribute to this comparing and “One-Upping” we all do with our homes/families/recipes/bodies etc. It feeds the addiction and self-loathing and its not healthy! I miss you dear and love watching your family grow.

    • Yes! I know! It makes me sick sometimes… this subtle but pervasive culture of “one-upping” just leads to discontentment and self-loathing at all of our perceived failures. Miss you too!

  2. completely agree, catherine!!! BUT…the past 2 years, i’ve been so broken and weary as i walk the road i’ve walked…that i just don’t have the ENERGY to put on those “nice” faces anymore. so i tell it like it is. if someone says, “how are you?” and they are looking for that, “good!” with a smile answer, i don’t have it for them. i tell them whatever crazy thing happened, or i burst into tears. and, i have a handful of friends that GET that. but most people don’t. most people don’t know what to do with that!

    • agreed! and I, too, have been met by the awkward, semi-flustered stares when I “tell all” in those moments. I just think that, in general, it’s so crucial that we take a step back periodically to assess the image we’re asserting to others (in our close relationships, in the passing “how are you” encounters, on social media, etc, etc) and why… because i think we’re sabotaging ourselves and others if we keep trying to create (and then keep up with) this idealistic image of perfection. thanks for the comment! after all of this time, I still follow your blog and love reading about your adorable family! and thanks for being so REAL 🙂

  3. I’ve had 2 conversations about this with friends in the last 2 days! I hope that means God’s doing a work among his people to move us away from this type of comparison and air brushing and confusing what the gospel is really about. So appreciate reading something that agrees with and confirms what God’s been saying to me too!

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