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.
And allow God to work in us and through us in the ways only He can. Which version do you think He prefers?
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. 🙂
What a joy it is to link this post with three real-life spaces: Kelly at Purposeful Faith (#RaRaLinkup), Holly for #TestimonyTuesday and Crystal for #IntentionalTuesday.
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The real “unedited” version…YEP! I am thankful that God knows that part of us! So much THIS: “When we stop hiding behind the edited version, we can genuinely be who we are.” We can fully know who and whose we are!
Yes, Tara… love your words: “We can fully know who and whose we are!” Hope you’re having a wonderful day, my friend!
Julie, I listened to a podcast interview recently where the author (Dan Miller?) talked about our lives in a bullseye fashion. In the center is the real us, then the second circle is the shame we carry, so the third circle becomes the costume we wear to hide our shame which hides the real us.
I agree we don’t need to share every bit with everyone, but we can’t be fully loved if we’re not fully known. We need those safe people where we can be real and be a safe place for them to be real too. Praying we find those safe people and be those for others as well that remind us we’re not alone. Thank you, friend, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday. : )
Great word picture, Crystal. I’m so glad you shared that here! Makes so much sense. Your words are powerful, “… we can’t be fully loved if we’re not fully know.” Amen. Thanks for hosting us at your place each Tuesday! Blessings.
I have one friend who shares the real in their Christmas card. But it is balanced with positives and funnies, so it is not depressing. I always look forward to receiving their card. It is my favorite every single year.
I love that, Kim! That’s a great idea… and a great answer to being real! It’s hard to believe we’ll be receiving those cards in our mailboxes within a few weeks! Thanks for stopping in, friend. Hugs to you.
A wholehearted amen! I think there is such power in us telling the real truth, in inviting people into that story. Especially as believers, I think it lets people know that walking with Christ doesn’t mean we live perfect lives, it means we live messy lives with Him by our side. I’m a huge proponent of being authentic and transparent, and now more than ever I look for friends who are willing to do the same (like you!). I think if we are real, we create safe places for other people to be real too.
Amen to your words, Tiffany! I’m glad we can be real with each other! Wished we lived closer, but hopefully one of these days we’ll be able to meet. Bless you, friend. I appreciate you!
Julie – I appreciate your willingness to put it all out there and give us all something to think about. I too stop writing the letters several years ago, because of the very things you talked about. I absolutely love this quote by you: When we stop hiding behind the edited version, we can genuinely be who we are. I am stopping by from #RaRaLinkup today 🙂
Hi Debbie! It’s so great to have you here. Thanks for stopping by! I’m thankful we can be real here together. Blessings to you!
Wow, Julie, you’ve nailed it here with this post. I’m sorry about the 32 job applications. We’ve got stuff going down around here too. Like the hospital bill hanging over our heads, and the fact that my daughter hasn’t REALLY made any close friends since our relocation to Dallas. But you’re right, that’s not what we put in the Christmas card letter.
Thanks for your reminder to seek out genuine fellowship and prayer. I’m lifting up a prayer for your family now, especially your job situation.
Thank you, Betsy. It’s clear God’s place for me isn’t with any of those jobs, and I’m resting in His plan for my life. I’ll be praying for the bills (boy, do I understand that feeling!), and for your daughter. Glad we can be real with each other. I’m honored you shared some of your life here! God bless you, sweet friend.
That’s it Julie!
I am captivated by this…Over rehearsed lives with beautiful scripts can be boring! And it is unreal!
God wants the real us….
Amen, Ifeoma. God wants the real us. I want the real me, too. So glad you stopped in! I appreciate your words today. Have a blessed day!