A lot of people think I have it all together.
They say I am mature for my age, or I carry myself well, or they would have never guessed I’m only 28.
My husband gets irritated with me because I never take these comments as complimentary, which I know is how they are meant.
Other times, the comments are not intended to be complimentary and are dripping with sarcasm: Well, of course, your house is always clean. Not all of us can have good babies. Well you are just perfect, aren’t you?
When I hear any of these comments, I often wonder how authentic I am being when I am outside the walls of my home.
The way I am perceived is certainly not the way that I am feeling.
I am an honest person. If you ask me a direct question about myself or my sins, I will be very forthcoming about my weaknesses. In fact, my brutal honesty has been a problem for me in the past.
Those who truly know me, who show a genuine interest in who I am, know that many areas of my life are messy, despite the fact that I work on them.
However, in my acquaintances and even in closer relationships with young women, I often discover that I am not portraying my real self to them.
When I am outside in the world, I strive to display a respectful and honoring wife, a patient and devoted mother–basically the me I wish I was.
When I am safely inside the walls of my home, I lose patience with my children, verbally poke at my husband, and struggle excessively with my favorite sin of all — gossip.
Unfortunately, my family gets the worst of me while the world sees my polished life.
I have struggled with how God would have me reconcile these two pieces of my life. I don’t believe He intends for me to air my dirty laundry — to make sure everyone knows just what kind of sinner I really am. However, I don’t want to be a discouragement to those with a younger faith, who view my polished life as unattainable.
The thing is that I don’t have it all together. My life is messy, my home is messy, my faith is messy. I mess up with my kids, my husband, and other important relationships every day.
So what does true authenticity mean to the Christian life?
Of course, we are to model ourselves after Jesus for He was the most authentic of all, but Jesus didn’t have any sins to cover, or dirty laundry shoved in the closet.
I think it is a matter of the heart. The fact is that it does not matter how others perceive me. It is my heart that matters. Am I polishing my life before I step out the door to impress others or to further the Gospel by representing the Christian life?
Airing my dirty laundry will not attract others to the Christian life, however, pretending to be above the mess won’t either. If I am pretending to be free of problems I will certainly not draw someone to Christ who is heavily burdened. However, I am Christ’s ambassador and am to reflect a transformed life, even when I don’t feel transformed.
In 1 Peter 3:15, God says,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…
I have no better testimony to the living work of Christ than my own transformed life. Therefore, this life should always be on display. So I pray that people will see my polished life and wonder how I achieved it; I pray they will come to me to find out more; and I pray that I will be ready to share with them that I am nothing but a filthy failure, that it is the Father who lives in me, the Father who I reflect in my daily life, the Father who is perfect.
Unfortunately, these things are out of my control. There is nothing I can do for those who believe I have everything together, other than pray that someday they will come to me to find out the real truth of my “togetherness” — and that truth is Christ. You see, perhaps I do polish my life before I leave my house, but it is Christ who makes me shine.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ~1 Peter 2:9