That year our son had experienced a serious eye injury, and a great disappointment not being able to finish the soccer season because of it. Our daughter walked through an experience which put us all in uncharted waters. My husband continued to encounter painful effects from getting hit by a car on his bicycle the year prior. I let go of a piece of my life I had intimately known for years.
It was that year I chose to stop including our annual family letter in our Christmas cards.
I had forgotten all about that decision, until last week a friend of mine said in passing, “I wrote our family Christmas letter this week, in two versions. One was real life, and the other will be mailed with our Christmas cards.”
I totally understood. Totally.
When did life become about sharing only the not-so-real, the “air-brushed,” and edited version of our lives??
When did we go from being transparent with others, to hiding behind what looks like the perfect life? I’m not sure when it happened, but I believe it has.
And that’s why I couldn’t bring myself to include our family letter in our Christmas cards that year.
I mean, really. Who wanted to read about our son’s hyphena (the medical name for his eye injury), and how scary those weeks were, thinking he may lose his eyesight? Who really desired to read about our daughter and the challenges she was walking through? Who would have appreciated the details of my husband’s injuries? And I imagine no one wanted to hear of how I chose to walk away from an important part of my journey.
That’s just too real.
If you wrote the “real,” unedited version of your family letter right now, what would it include?
Mine might contain how I’ve been laid off from work since July and have applied for 32 jobs with no leads. How our daughter is learning to deal with a difficult co-worker. How our son is balancing college and work as he feels a little left out by still living at home. How my husband has worked for the past 23 days straight, and yes, he still has pain.
That’s our real life right now.
The edited version would share that everything is plugging right alone in my life. My daughter’s job is going well. My son is living the college life. My husband is excelling at work.
Quite the different version, wouldn’t you say? It’s truth, but not the full truth.
I believe the real version would provide people hope.
Hope that maybe they aren’t the only ones who are living a real life… with ups and downs, with cares and concerns, with pain and heartache, with unanswered questions and living by faith when the future is unclear.
The edited version might look like I have the perfect life. But, you know? I prefer the real version… of my life and of yours.
When we stop hiding behind the edited version, we can genuinely be who we are.
Now, I fully realize we certainly don’t want to air our dirty laundry all the time, and we don’t want to be so real we cause others to run when they see us approaching. But, can’t we find a balance, without landing at one extreme or the other?
What’s wrong with sharing with someone, “Hey, this is going on in my life, and I’m having a hard time with it. Would you pray for me?” Or, “I’m struggling today. I need someone to listen. Do you have a minute to talk?” Or, “I could really use some encouragement right now. May I share what’s going on?”
I’d welcome the opportunity for anyone (anyone!) to be real, honest, and transparent with me. Not only would it give me an opportunity to lift him/her in prayer, but it would also encourage me in grasping I’m not the only one with “stuff” in life.
You might see our smiling faces on our Christmas card this year, but you’ll know what’s behind those smiles… imperfect, real, blessed-by-God, unedited lives. Lives I’m oh, so thankful for. Lives I wouldn’t trade for anything.
I’m celebrating you and your life today… the real, unedited version!
P.S. Please know I’m not saying we shouldn’t write an annual family letter, and we shouldn’t be positive and upbeat about life. We should! By all means! But let’s be intentional about living real, and sharing our real lives with the people closest to us. 🙂
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