Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What I Think About--Keepin' it Real

A few years ago there was a corny little reality show that Matt and I got sucked into watching (and without a doubt, we would have won if we were on it!).

The show was Here Come the Newly Weds.  Basically the premise is to put a bunch of newlyweds together in one house, have them do marriage challenges, and then vote on who gets to stay.  It was pretty comical (especially since the real challenges come when you've been married for seven years and your son falls out of the crib at the same time your daughter pukes up corned beef and you've got to get up early in the morning for a meeting but you still pull together as a team to clean and love and comfort).

Anyhow, one of the couples were Cody and Dawn Freis, pictured below.  They were lovingly nicknamed "Ken and Barbie" by their peers.  Not hard to see why.   Now they aren't exactly my type (I prefer dark hair, green eyes, and smiles that aren't quite so large and toothy) but I think we can, in general, agree that they are a pretty good lookin' pair.  What this picture doesn't show is Dawn's "Barbie" body complete with long legs, thin waist, and big boobs.  Why am I going on and on about the Freis couple?  I have a point; I promise.

During one of the newlywed challenges, the brides had to find 5 things they would change about their appearance and they guys had to determine what their brides would choose (this is pretty dangerous territory).  The other women were not quite as attractive as Dawn and quickly chose their 5 flaws.  But so did Dawn.  In fact, for someone who looked so perfect, Dawn had no problem pointing out her imperfections.  The other women actually made comments that if Dawn had 5 flaws then they were really in trouble.

Don't we do this everyday?  

I can think of five women off the top of my head who always look good and put together, whose kids always behave, who seem to be so happy with their marriages, are confident about themselves, and are in line for the Mother of the Year Award. Do you know these women too?  The women you always compare yourselves to?  The women who, despite never meaning to, reduce your self-esteem to mere rubble just by having their hair and make-up on by 9:00 am?

At times, I feel like I'm the only one who is insecure and trying to gloss over my inadequacies.

Then I saw this.  My friend Molly, who has a black belt in keeping it real--really, she wore a green 1980s sequin prom dress with a white T-shirt and Argyle knee highs to work on St. Patrick's Day, showed me this video last Wednesday night during life group.

I'll admit that upon first seeing Katherine it's kinda hard to watch her.  I mean, here's a former model who is basically my age with serious health issues--troubles walking, missing a part of her brain, vocal problems, paralyzed face ... it's pretty heartbreaking in a world where what's on the outside is what "really" matters (sad but true).

But then you hear her perspective, that she is nothing more than the physical manifestation of what I most people feel.

She can't walk but who can walk and feels totally free?
She feels ugly but who is "normal" and feels beautiful?
She can barely talk but who can talk and feels truly understood?
She can't eat but who eats and is ever fully satisfied?


I needed this reminder that we all feel broken.  Even those moms who unknowingly make me feel like mush struggle too.

So why is it that we can't be real?  

Friday night my husband, Molly and I went to see the movie To Save a Life.  The acting isn't great.  The plot is predictable.  But my husband called it one of the most introspective movies he's ever seen.

The movie is basically about teenagers dying, literally, to be heard.  Everyone is acting in order to be accepted.  I'd like to write this off as teenage drama but adults do this too.  Everyday I want more, "need" more--I'm trying to impress so I'll feel accepted.  I refuse to be weak before others for fear of the scorn, ridicule, or judgement.  Even on this blog I'm dying to know that my thoughts resonate with someone else.  I hope my followers increase.  Do you do this?  Are you still trying to impress the popular kids at school like I am (15 years later!)?

Remember the Velveteen Rabbit and how he learned that nice houses, a smokin' hot body, being a part of the "in-crowd," good paying jobs, designer jeans and Cadillac Escalades love makes him real?  Do we lack love?  Is that why we can't be real?

I'm afraid we will never know love, from others or God, until we open up and are broken and vulnerable.  I believe we are meant to live in community but is it really community when we only celebrate together?  Is there some unwritten rule that our community of friends can only be about good stuff?  Did I miss the memo that we aren't supposed to let others see our weaknesses or know where we fall short?

When did it become okay to not be real? 

The scorn of "realness" is why we amass houses that are too big, eat too much, wear too much make-up, make ourselves too busy, obsess with our weight/looks/hair/boob size/whether or not we were invited to the party...  We are dying for someone to love us and say we are worthy and we will do anything to get it---even forgo our feelings.  We will sacrifice ourselves on the alter of acceptance.

This is not okay.

And that's why I think we have to be real with each other.  We must make it okay to be vulnerable and show our weaknesses because in doing so, we glorify God.  The Bible says that in our weaknesses, He is strong.  How can I show the world His strength if I won't show it my weaknesses?  How do I encourage someone to put their trust in Him when I don't do it?  How will I teach my children that God loves them as they are, for who they are if I don't believe it about myself?

There is something powerful about being real about who we are because if I'm so together that I don't need God or relationships with others than what's the point?!

If you are reading this blog thinking I'm the paragon of the perfect wife, woman, and mother, I hate to disappoint you.  If you were to come to my house you would see everything in order because I'm nuts.  My kids would be obedient.  My husband loving and doting.  But if you looked closer, you might see that the laundry is not done (which is why that door is closed), that the carpet is filled with dog hair (despite vacuuming several times a week), and the kitchen table needs wiped down (which I've given up on until Pax is 2).  If you talked to me you'd know that I'm struggling with some relationships (in-laws--are we legally bound to these people :o)  ?), that I've always battled with my looks (if only I had platinum blond hair and no muffin top!), and I have troubles controlling my mouth when I'm angry.  I'm not perfect.  There are places in my heart and life that I have a hard time surrendering.  I am broken.  But He is faithful to meet me where I fall short.

You know what's amazing about Katherine's story and the end of To Save a Life and even The Velveteen Rabbit?  It's restoration!  At the end these people open up, become vulnerable, and break down.  Their ugly comes through and ironically, that is what makes them beautiful.  That's what makes them inspirational and loved.  They lay it all on the table and say "I hope you still love me" and we do.  We love them MORE!

*Plot Spoiler* At the end To Save a Life the lead character is with his father.  They've had a bad relationship but they are spending time together--putting it back together.  The boy is being redeemed to his father.  And that's what will happen if we can be real.  If I can be real to you, if you can look past my crazies and my faults, if I can just BE, I will be redeemed to my Father.

And that's what I think keepin' it real is all about!


  1. Amazing post today, and what an eye opening video! This is how everyone feels to a degree, I would imagine. Obviously, I myself, have self-image issues or I would not be desperately trying to loose weight and also rid myself of my 'muffin top'.

    I actually have so much to say, I think I just need to write a blog!

    I think it is very important to be real in order to be 'seen' as beautiful. So funny you posted this, because we told our daughter (11) this very thing last night.

    I mostly admire women that are able to be real and show their flaws. We all have them. I have to say ...I never so much cared for T.V. shows such as, The Girls Next Door, etc, because they portray a false sense of what's real and how women really feel or HOW they really are for that matter. But I have to say (even though I don't really care for this show either) that the spinoff show, Kendra, shows a real vulnerability in a women. She's very real about how she feels and I can actually relate to her (imagine that!)
    She just had a baby and her self-esteem has dropped tremendously. She cries about being around her 'pretty' friends because she doesn't FEEL beautiful.

    Who hasn't felt like at one point or another? I will admit that as much as I love my friends, it's hard to be around the ones that have never had babies and be too aware of my hidden stretch marks and lumpy skin underneath and imagine how 'perfect' their bodies must still be.

    But I used to have a better looking body and still didn't fully appreciate it then. We never learn to 'truly' love ourselves. Being real about it with one another helps, though. It helps to see the true beauty in each other.

  2. Wow this is exactly what I needed to hear today. As I sit here on my couch with my laptop tears are streaming down my face. It has really hit me lately how vein I truly am. Most things in my life have come fairly easily to me, and for whatever reason I can't seem to loose the weight from having my son 10 months ago. So many of my friends walked out of the hospital in their pre-pregnancy jeans. I still can't zip mine up 10 months later. I have tried dieting and I even have a personal trainer, and nothing. In fact yesterday I spent two hours researching a new diet and making a new plan. For some reason I find myself obsessing over this all the time. I know the Lord it teaching me an growing me through this, and I have been doing trying to do this in my own strength. The lord is gracious to us, which I am so thankful for that. I am also very thankful for your blog and your honesty. Thank you for sharing that you deal with this too Reagan because it makes me realize I have friends on this journey.

  3. Awesome post and so true and real. You know what I thought that Katherine was still beautiful on the outside. This happening to her may have made her more beautiful on the inside and grew her faith and strength with God. To me she was just as beautiful as before.

  4. p.s. maybe even more beautiful is what I wanted to add.

  5. Amy--I agree. Even when I had my rockin' early 20's body I still always thought: "I should run more" "Do these jeans make my thighs look big"? I think if satan can keep us focused on what we're not then we can't fully claim who we are!

    Nichole--You are not alone. I so struggle with this. Matt and I are actually going to start doing the p90x routine together to help make ourselves feel better. I appreciate you sharing your struggle. This is what makes blogging worth it. My blog and your comment PROVE that we're in it together--till the end!

    AmberRay--Totally agree!

  6. BTW, Amy from Chapter of Me is doing P90X so if you are interested check it out here:

  7. Wow, that video is pretty amazing. Thanks for posting it. And thanks for the thoughts and encouragement.


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