I often have readers comment on my blog with something along the lines of, “Thank you so much for your honesty.” Or “Thanks for being willing to be so open and honest.” I am very moved when people take the time to comment on my blog and to tell me that something I wrote was meaningful to them. I often feel like I’ve left my heart here on this webpage, never really knowing if it’s going to reach anyone much less if it will mean anything. And sometimes it feels especially risky since what I write is often deeply personal. It can be incredibly discouraging to pour your heart into something and get no response—or worse, a very negative response. I am so thankful to the people who encourage me that my story matters.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this whole idea of honesty. I write openly about fears and struggles and doubts and opinions, even the ones that don’t show me to be the intelligent, thoughtful, grace-filled person I wish I was. I write this way because in many ways, this blog is for me. It is my space to wrestle. I write this way because I deeply value authenticity and because I don’t know any other way to be.
Lately though, I’ve begun to wonder if I have misrepresented myself here. See, it’s relatively easy to tell the truth about what you think and it’s easy to tell truths about other people. It’s easy to have an opinion about what other people should or should not be doing. It’s easy to be honest about things that annoy you or things you find very meaningful. It’s especially easy to do this from behind a computer monitor. You can write exactly what you think, hold nothing back, and send it out onto the interwebs. People you know and people you don’t know can read your truths and respond. Some will agree with you, affirming you in your righteousness. Some will disagree, and you will feel indignant or misunderstood. There is certainly risk involved in sharing your thoughts and your feelings. Especially if they don’t line up with the standard opinions of your particular culture. But these things are still relatively easy (for me) to be honest about.
What isn’t easy for me is being honest about who I am. Because when I am honest about who I am, it scares people. Sometimes they actually run away, but sometimes they just ignore me. Like if they pretend they didn’t hear me it will go away. So I’ve learned to be honest about what I think and what I feel, but to be guarded about who I am. Because who I am is just too much for most people.
But the more I write and the more readers I get, the more compelled I feel to present myself as I really am. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I do this. Probably some people will be uncomfortable and some people will laugh it off and not care about what I’m offering. Maybe some people will decide I’m not worth listening to anymore or will call me needy or self-indulgent. But maybe one or two people will see me and love me anyway. Because to be fully loved we have to be fully known.
Who I am is messy. Who I am is broken. And who I am is also glorious. Who I am is sometimes-hopeful, sometimes-depressed, sometimes-angry, sometimes-thankful, sometimes-ugly, sometimes-gracious, sometimes-wrong, sometimes-smart, sometimes-selfish, sometimes-patient, sometimes-loving, sometimes-beautiful, sometimes-cruel.
Here are the things you probably know about me:
I love my husband, I love to write and read. I love to travel. I love both making and eating food (also smelling food and thinking about food and writing about food). I love Disney. I love my family. I have a lot of questions about God and my faith and about the church and I’m asking them. I believe in Grace – for myself and for others. I love beautiful things. I am conflicted about having kids. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I hate cable cars. I sing all the time.
Here are some things you probably don’t know about me:
I crave approval. I care A LOT about what people think of me and there are very specific qualities I want them to see in me. For example, I would rather people think I’m smart and authentic and a good writer or a good cook/hostess than think I am kind or gentle (though obviously, that would be good too.) I am so concerned with people not seeing me as judgmental that sometimes I am not honest with them.
I also crave appreciation and if I don’t feel appreciated enough, I stop working hard, even though it’s the right thing to do.
I complain. A lot.
I insist on believing (although he has many times told me this is not true) that my husband can and should read my mind and meet all of my needs without me having to verbally express them. And I get angry when he doesn’t.
Yesterday I waited until my coteacher left the classroom and then wolfed down the entire strawberry cream cheese muffin I brought from home while she was in the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to share it.
Before I left for Korea I met my birth dad who I hadn’t seen in 17 years. He said, “I love you.” I didn’t say it back.
When something doesn’t work out the way I planned it to (the movie is sold out, we missed the bus, the plane tickets are too expensive) I blame someone else. Usually my husband.
I get incredibly annoyed anytime someone states their opinion as though it is the incontrovertible truth. EVEN IF I AGREE WITH THEM. If I think they are arrogant and judgmental I won’t listen to a word they have to say. Which I guess makes me arrogant and judgmental
Sometimes I lie. (That wasn’t a lie just now, btw).
There’s a part of me that still thinks, contrary to all evidence, that I’d be sublimely happy if I were skinny. Not like, “A healthy size for my body type,” or “lean and well-toned.” Just straight-up skinny.
Sometimes (God-forgive me) I DO think I’m better than other people.
Sometimes when my husband or a friend is talking, I nod and smile at the right times, but I’m really just thinking about what I want to say next.
I still get jealous when my parents seem more interested in one of my siblings than they are in me. Because I genuinely believe (though it’s a deeply hidden and seldom acknowledged) that I deserve to be their favorite. That’s not a knock against my siblings at all (because they are awesome). It’s a sort of embarrassing admission that I still think that following all the rules, having a college degree and a job, marrying an approved spouse, and never going to jail should have earned me the most love points.
I resent being told what to do. Especially by men.
I am so self-centered that I just made a list of my positive and negative attributes, convinced that I am interesting enough for all of you to want to read about me.
Also last night I left dirty dishes in the sink because I was hoping if I just left them there dear husband would do them for me.
Hi, I’m Lily. It’s nice to meet you.
P.S. I tried to figure out how to format this into a cool dance/song like this one from Bring it On so you would think I was funny and awesome and had a lot of skills and ignore the rest of what I said, but I couldn’t think of any good rhymes for “selfish.” And also I am the Very Worst Dancer and my husband says there are some things even a very honest person should keep to themselves.
This is a damn good post 🙂
Nice Lil! I’ve found you gotta go to jail at least once though:)
I’m still young…plenty of time.
Nothing you said scared me away. In fact, I could probably say a lot of the same “negative” things about myself. Glad to know you are a human like me 😉
Glad you weren’t scared away. 🙂 Hurray for being human!
i second all of the previous comments made.
well except jail. never been, not sure i ever want to go. 🙂
Lily I love this post. EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT IT. i have been in the process of thinking about all the things i love, my favorite things. I love that you wrote about all of you. it’s great to write all you love and are happy about but brave to show the real you. that is sometimes scary but i love that you did. thank you. there are quite a few of those negative things that i have in common with you. the one i hate the most about me is Sometimes (God-forgive me) I DO think I’m better than other people.
i seriously was just thinking about that this morning. God created everyone and I want to be able to see people through His eyes not mine. I want to love them for who God made them and who they are regardless of who they are. i love the way you write and love reading you words.
Thank you so much. I read a book recently that said something along the lines of there are two things we have to remember: Because of the value God has placed on humans, You are the most important person in the world. And so is everyone else. Sometimes that’s hard to wrap my mind around. Love you, Jenn.
oh wow. i love that. my other big fault/weakness is being judgmental. it slapped me in the face last night as i was pushing through a book that is so good but a tough read. it is called total forgieness. it’s by rt kendall the guy who wrote the book papaw and granny love do much “God meant it for good”
it spoke of being careful of judging because you too will be judged (he said it better but wow. thinking on that today)
Absolutely love this Lily! I really identify with so much of what you said here. Had a good chuckle too. Thank you x
Thanks, Chelyn. I’m so glad I met you! 🙂
Wow, this a really good post and I really feel that you leave a lot of yourself here on your blog. I’m looking forward to reading more in the future.