A few weeks ago, I joined the wonderful word of Facebook. I have heard about Facebook for more than a year now. I have seen the wedding pictures of friends on Facebook when another person on Facebook was willing to show them to me. I have been intrigued by Facebook, and I finally joined after one of my clergy sisters shared with me how many people she had reconnected with over Facebook. Like my friend, Ginger, I have now reconnected with high school friends and college sorority sisters, clergy colleagues and seminary classmates. It has been a joy - an absolute hoot - to be in communication with all of these people once again.
One of the features Facebook provides is photograph tags. A Facebook friend can post a picture on their page and then tag you in the process, linking it to your page. This past week, a Facebook friend posted a picture of me from her wedding weekend. The picture was anything but flattering. In the picture, I am about 20 pounds heavier than I am now. I am wearing an awful polka-dotted shirt, and I have a beer can in my hand. The picture was anything but the image I seek to project. I rather hated the picture and so I denied it. I untagged the photograph, blocking it from my Facebook page.
There was too much truth in the photograph.
The photograph exposed too much.
The photograph showed me - too much of me.
I did not like it, so I blocked it. And, I keep thinking about how much we block in our lives.
There is so much of us that we seek to pretend is not there - so much of us that we think is not good enough - not smart enough, pretty enough, successful enough, holy enough, hot enough, big enough, small enough - that we seek to hide. There is too much truth to and in us that we are afraid to exposed - fearful that if people know the real truth that they will not be able to bear it or us in the process. We wear so many facades - so many faces - so many masks. We hide so much.
But what happens when we remove the mask? What happens when we allow people to see inside?
At Mount Vernon Place, we seek to create this place where people can be real - exposed - raw. We seek to be an authentic community where people can come as they are, share what's on their hearts or in their minds, talk about their fears and their frustrations, and be loved through it all. We seek to not be the place where everyone only wants to know what one does for a living - but to be the place where people share why they love living - what is giving them joy in life - as well as what is hurting them in life, causing pain in life. And something miraculous is happening in the process. As we are being real, lives are being healed. As we tell the truth, the truth makes us free.
Maybe next time I'll let the photograph be posted - the one that exposes me - shining a light on me that isn't exactly flattering - but telling the truth.
I love authenticity. I love the authentic community that I see each week at this place. Lord, please help us all to be authentic with one another - real - raw - exposed.