I am excited to feature another guest blogger today. I recently came across Chelsey Mead’s website and really loved her post about “trendy vulnerability.” One certain line about being authentic really caught my attention: “Bottom line? It’s a mentality, not a hashtag. It belongs in our relationships, not only on our screens.” But, enough with the teasers, let me introduce Chelsey.
Chelsey Mead is an author, wife, and mama to 8 month old, Benaiah Michael. She spends her days chasing him around the house, planning events, and writing about the beautiful and challenging entry into the mom club. She’s on a mission to dismantle shame and she’d love it if you joined in.
I love sharing the most difficult, ugly parts of my life for the sake of accountability, and for the sake of encouraging other people. Especially when it comes to patterns of sin and selfishness and pride. I really try to put it all out there, so other Christ-followers can hold me accountable, and so I can own up to my mistakes and start to see real progress. I regularly engage in open conversations with people about things I feel the Lord wants to change in my heart, and try to share those realizations every chance I get so others can see my mess.
Let’s rephrase that, and this time I’ll be brutally honest.
My name is Chelsey, and I like to be kind of vulnerable. When it suits me, that is. I’m okay with sharing about a little bit of the mess in my life, as long as I keep up my #shereadstruth appearances. I obviously have to be sure I still look like a good Christian. I can deal with posting the occasional unfiltered selfie, but those need to be limited to like, once every twenty insta-squares #amIright? I mean, a messy kitchen is basically a sin anyways, don’t I at least get some Jesus points for posting that? It did get like, forty hearts. Those 40 women had to be so, just, totally encouraged by seeing me in my #reallife.
Bonus points? It didn’t even ruin my aesthetic. #winning.
Rolling eyes. Breathing deep.
Here it comes. The truth that’s been bubbling up in my heart for months now, that I’ve wished away with quippy hashtags and self pep-talks promising myself that surface-level quasi-vulnerability is enough. But it’s not. Comfortable is not enough. If we’re going to bother sharing, shouldn’t we do so boldly, and so that others can hear and find truth?
Most of us are happy to laugh at ourselves when the laundry piles up. We can openly joke about our so-called addictions to dry shampoo (guilty as charged, here), and we might even get a wild hare to post a photo or two without makeup. #nofilter #liveauthentic, anyone?
I applaud these steps towards vulnerability, don’t get me wrong, but it’s only the first step in a long and frankly, un-pretty journey. It’s great to see women online owning up to their surface-level imperfections, and I’d still love to see more of that, trust me. But I can assure you that Jesus calls us as believers, to go much further and far, far deeper in our communities. It seems we’ve created an online world where we are all fine and well to be almost really vulnerable. To almost let our strongest guards down. To almost share the legit ugly parts of life–like our sin, our shame, our struggle to recover from the times we bend too far backwards.
We almost have the concept down…But not quite.
I genuinely believe our hearts crave the opportunity to finally open up and pour our junk out for the world (or friends or family) to see, in genuine hope that someone will be encouraged. In hope that someone on the other side of the same mess and muck can say, “I made it, and so can you.” In hope that someone caught in the same pile of emotional and spiritual crap can walk alongside you as you press into the tangible healing offered to us. I feel a part of us is wishing for everyone else to drop the insta-perfect act, as it were. But if we want to reap that kind of vulnerability, if we want those kinds of friendships within our real life community, someone has to go first. Someone has to awkwardly get the ball of crap rolling, so-to-speak.
It’s time we fight a little harder, friend.
As I’m learning to press into real vulnerability this year, not trendy vulnerability as I have admittedly chased in years prior, I’m finding a single truth emerge: it’s a heck of a lot more than instagram posts about dirty dishes. It’s the pride that keeps those dishes in the sink, because I feel entitled to sit on the couch and begrudgingly wait for my spouse to wash them. It is, “his turn,” after all. It’s the insecurity that keeps me plastering my face with makeup before a run to the grocery store because I’m afraid of being viewed by complete strangers as the young, inexperienced mama who doesn’t have her sh** together. It’s the mornings I ask my sisters for prayer because I can’t seem to shake the weight of anxiety off my chests as I start another day. It’s confessing that messages of shame are playing on a loop in my head today, and I need to change that tape before I give into the weight of the lies the enemy is whispering in my ear. It’s admitting that for every pretty square, every quippy blog post, there was a day in the trenches the Lord dug me out of to change my perspective. It’s not only joking about a messy house; but owning up to a messy heart. It’s about living day-to-day without the pretense of perfection…embracing a life that invites others to open up.
Bottom line? It’s a mentality, not a hashtag. It belongs in our relationships, not only on our screens.
Vulnerability is sharing in the ugly while we wait to get to beautiful, and finding that there’s a lot more beauty in our current, broken state than we can fully grasp. It requires that we take off the pretense of fine, the grand act of #blessed. We have to show our broken pieces, and not just the ones we are comfortable with.
It’s going to get ugly.
But then it gets really, freaking beautiful.
When the masks of perfection come off, we can see each other in our acne-ridden, was up all night with a crying babe, I-feel-insecure-in-________, glory. We can be honest about our doubts, our failures, and our brokenness…
But let’s not post these things just for the sake of sharing, not for the sake of social media. Not for the sake of a flingin’-flangin’ hashtag (yup. there was another word there.) There is a lot more good and growth that can come from airing out our wounds.
We can boldly open our emotional dirty closets for the sake of healing; for the sake of our brothers and sisters on the other side of the screen that are hurting if we feel lead to do so. We can open our hearts and mouths for the community sitting around us in our churches, and for the people in our immediate proximity that have never seen a real-life, messy, owns-up-to-their-mistakes Christian before. We can do some tangible good in the midst of the most open of stages created our generation by declaring that sometimes life flat out sucks–but grace and healing always remain our final reality, because we serve a Good Father that doesn’t leave us to drown in the ugly stuff. We can share in the blisters our hands have gathered as we hold on to hope. We can free ourselves from the expectations we’ve tried so hard to manage, craft, and create to protect our so-called image. The stuff we spend time manicuring instead of focusing on Who’s Image we actually bear; and following suit in the vulnerability showed to us by a Savior who lived in our filth that He might love us out of it. We can really be vulnerable, and it really can start with us. We can show the fire and ashes as we await the beauty that surely follows them.
The finality of our redemption has far more power when our audience, whoever they may be, knows the darkness we were redeemed from; and in that redemption, the realm of darkness loses its power. Make no mistake–in Jesus’ name, the darkness will lose its power. Our Good Father can use daring vulnerability to do unthinkable things. I don’t know about you, but my heart longs to see what a life like that looks like.
So, here we are.
I’ll show my mess if you’ll show yours. We can walk this out, together.
Are you ready?