I typically don’t spend a lot of time getting ready in the morning. I’ve gotten to the point that I can get up, do a quick routine of brushing my teeth, letting my dogs out, getting dressed, whatever else I need to do, and I can get out of the door in about 20 minutes. Typically I just throw on a hat, think about the fact that I’ve worn the same t-shirt way too many times and then head off to work where I’ll make some coffee and continue my routine. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the image I’m presenting. Or at least that’s what I thought before I noticed something a few weeks ago. I was in a wedding for an incredibly good friend of mine in Virginia. I was excited for him and I was pumped to be with my brothers from my college baseball team. We’re family and always will be. I found myself constantly wondering if I was looking right. If my cufflinks were on the right way, was my tie fixed like everyone else, should I button my jacket or just leave it open? All of these questions made me analyze the image I created and presented to the world more than I realized I did.
I’ve always tried to be a good observer. I feel like a lot of times if I go to a restaurant or a coffee shop all I need to do is see what others are doing and that will teach me the proper protocol of putting up my dishes after I’m finished with my meal or if I pay at the table or the counter that type of thing. Yet I didn’t realize just hot much I tried to present myself in the perfect light in what I would do and how I would look. It’s no secrete that most people present their best self on social media. It’s what we do. We take silly, beautiful, and random photos. But it’s only the best pictures that make it online. It’s never pictures that present us in a bad light that we post. In an attempt to be real you might hear about someone’s struggles or something they might want prayer for.
I recently organized and executed a training session for adult and student leaders for our small group program we call Life Groups. We talked about what it means to create and facilitate authentic community. To be real and vulnerable with the people we have around us, to be able to ask and answer the question: “How is it with your soul?” It’s a tough question when you think about it. I can remember having an exhausting week, working long days, yet at the end of the week it was well with my soul. On the other hand I’ve had really easy weeks but my soul has been wrecked with anticipation and restlessness. When I think of authentic community the words Facebook, twitter, and instagram never enter my thoughts. I’ll be the first to admit that I love how social media connects us. One of the first things I did when I started my new job was to take over social media because we all agreed that it was important but at the time it wasn’t executed to the best of our ability.
I want to fight back against the perfect image society and yet one of the ways you can tell that my life isn’t perfect is by the fact that I’m not posting any pictures. So that’s the question I’m left with and the one that I hope you’ll explore within yourself and with me. What does it mean to be in authentic community? What does it mean to do Life Together as Bonhoeffer wrote about? Whenever I go into a new context and meet new people I know that I can be a different person. I can completely recreate my personality to fit whatever narrative I want because these people don’t have any preconceived idea of who I am and what I’ve done in the past. I seem to never be able to do that though. I’m never able to change who I am. I hope I never do because God has created me in his image to walk the path I’m on. I hope I can remain true to that and stop even for just a few minutes analyzing what I’m doing in reference and comparison to others but I am able to love in the unique way God has called me to love. That I can find and be in authentic community. I hope to be able to teach that to others and model that through social media and my daily walk so that my children can see I’m real, I’m not perfect but I’m striving to take hold that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.