Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Benefits from Our "Perfection"?

I read a blog today where the author announced a very painful development in her life, and it struck me how apologetic she sounded. The whole post was about how she expected to be judged. A reader commented by saying that she wondered if Facebook does more harm than good because people are always bragging about their perfect lives. I also have a few perfect Facebook friends, so I thought that was a good subject for a blog post. I told Rick, "You know how some people try to seem perfect on Facebook by talking about everything they accomplish, the gourmet meals they've prepared, and how well their kids are doing? That's going to be the subject of my post."

Rick stared at me blankly. "They're trying to be perfect? I thought they were just being boring."

So maybe this post is only for those of us who are tapped into feminine culture, where we often feed our own insecurities by accepting the image of perfection as the reality. When we look at that woman on the cover of Cosmopolitan, we know that she's been airbrushed. So why do we always forget? Why did I think, "Wow, Demi Moore is really thin. Not fair," until Yahoo! news brought to my attention that someone had butchered her airbrushing by cutting off her hip? Did I really not know that she was airbrushed until then? (Of course she still looks great, airbrushing or not.)

But the more important question is why we do it to other people. If we can deceive someone into thinking we have it all together, who benefits? We know the truth of it. All we've done is made the other person feel bad and participated in an endless cycle of pride, insecurity, and deception.

If we could just break free from that and be transparent, maybe people who are hurting would speak up before the problem gets out of control. "Perfection" creates a barrier between us and other people, but transparency is a point of connection. It is a bridge between us and other people that enables them to be real. It tells them that we're not too "perfect" to understand. We've shared all the struggles that define the human experience, right?

John Wesley said, "Let your words be the genuine picture of your heart." The condition of our hearts is all that ultimately matters anyway, so we might as well take off the mask. Are we just silver plated or silver straight through? God wants to bring all our flaws and impurities to the surface, so he can deal with them. 

And that is the beauty of transparency--it shows the power of the cross in a flawed human being. On the one hand, we are fallen, but on the other hand, our hearts are being renewed day by day. (2 Cor. 4:16) Why not let people see this process, so they know it's real?


Becky said...

This is a good post Anette. The wierd thing is, although so many people try to put up an illusion of being "perfect"... at the same time when someone else is vulnerable and real around i think they suddenly feel more able to be real themselves... what i mean is, i think i personally find it much easier being open and transparent with other people who are clearly not "perfect" cos you know they won't judge and will understand.. i've observed before that when one person has confessed a weakness, then suddenly hoards of people have come out the cracks and admitted that they have that problem too.. and suddenly through openess and relationship and mutually understanding they have been able to help each other and witness the beauty of God's grace, in our flawed natures... I am rambling here, i guess i'm just agreeing with what you said really!

Becky said...

p.s.. regarding facebook,i have always found it intriguing seeing how people choose to present themselves... i have friends who always talk about what they've done and achieved etc etc, but like Rick, i've always just found that a little boring... !

Anette Acker said...

I fully agree with you. I think sharing our weaknesses and struggles has a lot more power for good than parading our Christian armor. We have to be willing to bleed for each other.

And I also agree with you and Rick that "perfection" is boring. :)