Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Perception vs. Reality


I think this picture is a good example of a mask.  It looks beautiful because of all the snow and its pristine whiteness, but underneath that snow is just some ugly dead trees.  How often in life do we put on a beautiful, snow white mask to hide our ugly, dead nature?  How often do we let others think we're better than we really are?  I know I'm guilty of this, and that's why I'm writing this post.
When we blog, we tend to show our best face.  We don't let people see the ugly, and even when we do, we do it in a diplomatic way that still paints us in a good light.  Honestly, I'm not all that amazing, nor am I always that wonderful.  I have flaws, and today I wanted to show you the "me" behind the rose-colored blog glasses.  I'm going to do it as perception vs. reality.
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Perception:
"You are so godly!  You must be a super Christian and read your Bible and pray 24/7!"

Reality:
I struggle to read my devotions consistently.  I do pray, but I find it harder to do in public than in private, and I don't pray with my kids often enough.  Don't get me wrong; these things happen in my daily life and if I say I'm going to pray for you, I do.  It is just that I am not to the point where reading my Bible and praying are second nature to me; I still have to work at doing it.  It is something I am honestly ashamed of, but am working on daily.
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Perception:
"You have a natural food, food-allergy recipe blog!  Your kids must eat so well, low sugar and from scratch for every meal!"
Reality:
Boy, do I wish that were true!  We still eat out every few weeks (sometimes as much as once a week), we are guilty of eating frozen pizza, fish sticks, chicken nuggets or grocery store fried chicken (though I am picky on types and brands).  I make mac and cheese from a box at times when life is crazy.  My kids eat store bought bread (albeit the best of it that we can afford with the least amount of junk in it) and cereal, and I'm not talking bran flakes here, but those artificial flavored and colored ones.  I cook with sugar (though it is cane sugar, turbinado if we can afford it) because I think it's ok in moderation.  That's just the tip of the ice berg!  I do not have a totally unprocessed, whole foods house, but that's ok...as long as the junk is the exception and not the rule...and it's getting there.
I work hard at getting my family to eat natural, whole foods, but it doesn't happen daily.  It is a work in progress.  I know what is the best for my family, but it doesn't always happen.  It's one of the things that I'm striving to change this year the most because I don't want to be a "do as I say, not as I do" type of person.  I never claimed to be perfect in my eating habits on my blogs, but I never claimed not to be either.  This is me admitting I have a long way to go here, too, so if you're struggling, I get it!  I do, too!
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Perception:
"You talk about how much God loves you and how much you rely on Him to help you.  You must be like a Baptist nun!"
Reality:
I'm not perfect, nor do I claim to be.  I do love the Lord because of all He's done for me, and I do need Him daily, but there are days where I still try to do things in my own power.  It's a terrible, nasty habit and totally prideful...and one that I work on.  God knows who and what I am - I don't try to fool Him because I can't.  He loves me despite all of my flaws...but He wants me to work on them with His help.  That is my reality: confessing my faults, seeking God's will and striving to serve Him to the best of my abilities.  I sometimes fail at this, but when I fall, I ask God to help me up and to help me try again.  I just pray that one day it will be the last day I have to start over again!
***
Perception:
"You don't complain about your Fibromyalgia and often say how you're grateful for it.  You must have a high pain tolerance and be the biggest saint ever!"
Reality:
I do have a high pain tolerance, but that's not why I don't complain much.  I don't complain because it does no good - it doesn't change reality.  It only changes my mood, which compounds the issue.  Oh, I have whined.  I have cried.  I have complained.  It doesn't help.  I have found that if I, instead, seek God's wisdom and ask for His help through it all, it is a lot more tolerable.
I do have my bad days, and I've blogged about it before, but I try to stay positive.  My pain is minimal compared to a lot of people, and I'm so grateful for that!  I will be honest and share when I've had bad weeks, when my memory is like mush, etc., but I know that staying positive and trusting the Lord is the best medicine for anything, and Fibromyalgia is no exception.
***
Perception:
"You always respond so fast to emails and comments!  You must be so organized and have a lot of time on your hands!"
Reality:
I am not as organized as I'd like to be, but I keep my online life very organized so that I don't spend time spinning my wheels which keeps me away from my family.  Some days I do have a lot of free time, others are nuts!  I respond quickly so I don't forget to do it later, because (trust me) I have (gotta love FibroFog)!  Also, and please don't take this the wrong way, the quicker I deal with the online stuff, the more time I have for family, so I like to get it done ASAP to free up time for family later.  There is always time, though, during the day that I deliberately walk away from the computer so it doesn't eat up my time. 
I kick myself when I am here too much because that means I was away from my family too long.  They need me, and it's a delicate balance.  This is why I only post once a week (link-ups and rare occasions when I post more often aside) and why I strive to have a monthly guest blogger on each blog as I can work it out, because I have to keep my blogs a part-time thing so that my family can be a full-time thing like it's meant to be, if you know what I mean.
***
Perception:
"You are such a good wife and mother!  Your kids must adore you and act like angels, you must have a pristine house and your husband must fall all over himself to make you happy!"
Reality:
My life is far from perfect.  My kids are great, but they disobey sometimes or show selfishness or lack of restraint or act inappropriately (they are kids, after all - that's kind of par for the course).  They don't always think I'm wonderful, because I'm not.  I've lost my temper, I've had "mommy meltdowns" and I've forgotten promises and had to apologize to my kiddos (including to my 2-year-old) for it.  Nothing knocks you down a few pegs like looking into a little kid's eyes and having to say, "Mommy was wrong.  I'm sorry.  Forgive me?"
My house is not always pristine (the dusting rarely gets done, and there are days the laundry may get washed but not folded, and the garbage has been known to overflow at times), but I try to keep it as clean as I can.  My body doesn't always let me do the work I'd like to do, and sometimes, let's be honest, I procrastinate in doing it, so it doesn't get done.  Big flaw, but I'm working on that, too.
My husband sees me for who I am, loves me anyway, and sometimes we argue.  He loves me like I love him: unconditionally, even if we're not acting very lovable and have decided we don't like each other so much in the moment.  I know saying that will offend some of you or shock you, but don't misunderstand me.  We are not perfect people and we do things we should not, say things we should not, etc.  This is how everyone is, and though it pains me to admit that I'm "normal" in this regard, it is the truth.  I am a work in progress.
True character and integrity is manifested in one that humbles themselves to admit they are not perfect, apologize where it is needed and strive to fix it and better themselves.  I won't have you believing that I'm some saint when I'm not.  I do the best I can, but I have not "arrived". 
I don't like that I can't be blameless and spotless at all (or even at most) times.  I hate that I can have a temper and/or say things that I don't mean.  I hate when my pride gets the best of me.  These are all things I work on, that I struggle with, that I ask God to help me with, and He does, and when things go south it is because I am the one who falters and fails, not God.  He will always help when I lean and rely on Him...the problem is that I get thinking I can do it alone, and then it domino effects into everything else until I have a mess only He can fix left to offer.
One day, when I get to Heaven, I won't have this sinful nature keeping me in a state of imperfect, and I so look forward to it!
***
I could go on and on like this, but I think you get the picture.  The gist?  I'm not perfect, so please, PLEASE, don't make me out to be.  I can't survive being on a pedestal that high, because I will fall off of it and hurt, not only myself, but others in the process.
I didn't write this post to discourage you, but to encourage you.  You and I are no different, dear reader.  We both have flaws we hate to share.  We both put on masks because that's what we're used to doing and what we feel is expected.  I encourage you to stop doing that.  Don't be afraid to be honest with yourself, with God and the world. 
Always remember that God sees you for who you are and loves you as you are.  If who you are is good enough for a holy God, then it should be good enough for everyone else.  Now, that does not give you license to do what you like as you like - there are laws and morals for a reason - but it does give you freedom to see yourself through God's eyes - eyes of grace and mercy - and give yourself the leeway you need to change for Him.
Once you get your eyes off of yourself, once you get your eyes on what He has done, then you stop seeing yourself through your pride, through your pretense, and start seeing yourself as you really are and then you can truly change and grow and be a better person.  It's amazing how the dirt stands out when you put it next to something (or in this case Someone) spotless, isn't it?
What perceptions are you holding onto today that distort the reality that is you?
Let go.  Throw away the mask.  Be real.



This post was submitted to:

Thankful Thursday on There's Just One Mommy

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16 comments:

  1. What a great, inspirational post. I truly agree we are not perfect in this world, but perfect in God's eyes. He is who counts. Give over your burdens to Him and be free to love life.

    Found you on SITS.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Vicki.

      I think it's more like we're perfectly imperfect. :) He know there's not going to be perfection, but He wants obedience and honesty. He knows we're going to mess up...He just wants us to admit when we do, ask for forgiveness and try again. We need to stop trying to impress and just be who we are, striving to do what is best in the sight of God, if that makes sense. :)

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  2. A discouraging post? I don't see it that way! I think it's a refreshing post! Too often we feel pressured to be the best at everything and to keep hidden the parts about ourselves that we don't like, and often that veneer that we shelack over everything begins to crack and fade to show what's happening underneath anyway. Perfetion is boring anyway. :-) I like you just the way you are, Julie!

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    1. Aww, thank you, Jo! :) I was so hoping it would be encouraging! :) You're right; it shows through, even when we think we've hidden it well. Better to just fess up and get it out there than pretend, don't you agree? :)

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! And for the record, I like you just as you are, too, Jo! :)

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  3. I wish I was better at keeping up online...sometimes I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. Or if I do great on my blog stuff, the fiction writing goes down. If I do well on fiction and my blog, the house is a wreck.

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    1. It definitely can be a vicious cycle! I have decided, though, that I'd rather my online world fall apart than my family world. That doesn't make it any easier some days, when you don't want to disappoint your readers or those relying on you in the blog-o-sphere, but sometimes you have to make a choice, and my family will always win that battle, and I don't regret that at all. :) I can't. In the end, I'm responsible for them first, so it really is a no brainer. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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  4. I'm extremely honest on my blog. Probably more so than some people would like. I dropped most of the masks I wear years ago, after about a year of therapy. Now that I've had several more years of therapy I'm pretty happy with who I am and no longer feel the need to put on a show for others. I do fake my way through pain sometimes, emotional and physical. But not often. Usually if I'm hurting people know it.

    I can see how people could read a lot into the things you write and make assumptions. I'll bet this post felt good to write, even if you didn't want to confess everything. I wish we could get to a place where we are more supportive and less judging of each other as a society. You're working hard to do your best and you're doing a great job. There are things you could improve, but you know that. You're sharing your love for God and that matters.

    Keep it up. You're doing great! Stopping by from SITS.

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    1. Thanks, Robin! It did feel good to "clear the air". It's nice to peel off the layers of pretense (even if I didn't know they were there) and be honest, even if it might be to a fault. It may have shattered some people's version of me, but that's ok - this is the real me, and that's what I want the world to know. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  5. Oh, I just love, love, love this!! We help each other SO MUCH MORE when we get real and honest than we do by perpetuating some image of perfection that will only make others feel inadequate. We lift each other up when we tell it like it is. Love you, Julie!!!

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    1. I knew if anyone would get this post, you gals would! You're right; we help each other out so much more when we're on the level! You ladies are just great! Love you gals!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Julie i love this post!! I have had a hard time finding time to spend time w/ God each day but If I can fun time to read a blog or check my fb then I def have time to do my devotion! Need to start 2013 w/ Jesus at the center!!!

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    1. I totally agree! I spent over an hour this morning playing catch up in my devotions, and it felt good! :)

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Have a great weekend!

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  7. I feel compelled to comment. I am the furthest thing from a Christian there is, but, with that being said, some of the most awesome people that I know are, indeed, Christian. Julie...I really admire what you said and it's the truth. We do go through with a "false face" on much of the time. But, you know something, my friend? It's ok to not be perfect. Just be yourself. That's why I started following your blog and that is exactly why I like chatting with you so much. You're real. There's too much false in the world and we need more people like you. Like I said, I'm not Christian...my beliefs are more "Native American" or "Mother Nature" based...but no matter what you believe or don't believe, you are obligated to be the best person you can be. You do that exceptionally well. Oh...for the record...me, being the food blogger that I am...I still eat mac & cheese from a box, I have a pack of nasty ol' hot dogs in my fridge (love em!!), I eat canned tomato soup and I love, love, love Cookie Crisp cereal...and I'm not ashamed a bit to admit it ;) xoxoxo, darlin'...I hope you have an awesome day!

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    1. Thanks, Laurrie! I appreciate the encouragement. I'm glad you find me real, because that's what I strive to be! It's the best way.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment, too!

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  8. What a beautiful reminder that none of us our perfect, and quite often our perceptions of people aren't completely accurate.

    Thanks for linking up with us this week! Have an awesome week!

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    1. Thank you! :) I think I need that reminder a little too often! LOL I like to think I can do it on my own, only to find out the hard way that I cannot. I'm glad God is there to help me pick up the pieces when that happens!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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