While I was in college, I worked at the Dr. Pepper Museum. Yes, that is me and my glorious mane of perm making a float behind the antique soda fountain. If you are ever in Waco (a lot of people are these days checking up on Chip and Jo’s retail establishment), I would recommend a visit. The museum is tons of fun. And I had a great time working there. I learned a lot about what it takes to build and maintain exhibits from the curator – a woman named Millie. She wore culottes and orthopedic shoes, but she was good at her job. She used gloves and all kinds of acid-free and archival quality products and equipment to ensure the artifacts stood the test of time. She did her best to preserve the articles so they would hopefully look as good today as they did back when I was in college. Aside from protecting the integrity of the pieces, she also worked long hours arranging and displaying them in the most attractive way possible. She wanted to tell a story that would attract others. After all, a museum is a business.
I have come to realize that I am the “Millie” of my own life. I spend a lot of time presenting the pieces of my life (the ones I want seen) in the best way possible. I hide my crazy, if you will. I boast on the accomplishments of my children and inwardly stew when they publicly display their weaknesses. I spend lots of time and money buying clothing and accessories to camouflage the extra pounds of fluff on my arms, hips and thighs (who am I kidding?). I won’t allow anyone to post a picture of me on social media before I have approved it or cropped and photoshopped it until it barely resembles me (again, who am I kidding?). I carry myself with an air of confidence that I often don’t feel. I have been arranging my story (not unlike a museum display) to attract others. And its exhausting.
A friend of mine contributes to a blog called “Compared to Who?”. On the page, you can find pictures and bios of all the contributors, whose mission is to encourage women to be real – to overcome their fears of being too much, or not enough. The problem though, according to one bloggy reader who commented, was that all the contributors looked thin and beautiful and pulled together. This anonymous woman wanted to know how they could possibly know what it felt like to be truly insecure? My friend Allyss addressed this comment beautifully here, admitting that she might have lost sight of the objective by not only putting her absolute best foot forward, but even choosing a photo for her profile that was several years old. Who of us wouldn’t have done the same? But aren’t you tired? I know I am. Not only is masquerading depleting, we subconsciously build walls between ourselves and others when we obscure parts of who we really are. We can not be intimate through masks.
Proverbs 11:3, ESV says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.” Having a well curated life can be an integrity issue. Does this mean we must air ALL of our dirty laundry? No. For the respect and protection of others, some things must be kept private – at least for a time. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit will guide you in such things. And motive is key. Our purpose in sharing should never be to make ourselves look good – or bad for that matter. Once we belong to Christ, what we live and present to the world is for the purpose of glorifying God. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” What Christ is doing in us is of first importance. Paul wrote that he only boasts in weakness so that the power of Jesus will be all the more apparent (from 2 Cor. 12:9).
Curating is a hard habit to break. Most of us have been doing it to some extent for our entire lives. My community group (we call them Life Groups) from church has been going through The Real Girls’ Guide to Taking it All Off by Stephanie May Wilson and it has been so FREEING to just get real with someone. So let’s make a pact to start with baby steps. This week when someone asks, “How are you?”, maybe you give a move descriptive answer than “fine”. Or maybe you post that social media pic as is – double chin, crows feet and all. With God’s help, I’m going to try. I’m a relational person, and no one can have a relationship with a museum piece.
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.” – William Shakespeare