I hurriedly walked into the grocery store, itemized list in hand, grabbing the first cart I laid eyes on. Of course it was stuck. I wrestled with three more carts until one finally broke loose. I shifted my mommy speed-shopping skills into fast-forward and started down the list. Apples, bananas, carrots.
As I was attempting to lug my cantankerous grocery cart through the produce section, I bumped (literally) into a friend from church. I blurted the first nice thing that came to mind: “Hey! How’s it going?” (Was really hoping she couldn’t tell I was gritting my teeth.) She responded with a friendly, “Oh hi, Anne-Renee! I’m fine. How are YOU?” Conversation ball was now back in my court. “Oh, we’re good. Family’s doing well. Things are great.” I launched into the kid’s latest adventures, a few tidbits about our current weather, and our family goal to grow more plants than weeds this year in our greenhouse. (Time and a plethora of sad wilted plants having revealed to the world that I have more of a brown thumb than a green one.) We exchanged a few more surfacey “blah blah blah” topics, and at the first opportunity, I politely bolted.
Bummer. I knew I’d done it again. A conversation anchored with forced cheerfulness and dripping with insincerity. Forget the fact that I was battling a raging headache, had a taxing day at work, and was presently less than thrilled in my rushed task of shopping. But did I share any of that? Oh no. Never. Those facts remained locked away behind my mask of smiles. I pushed my internal guilt back and focused on the task at hand. I now had only 15 minutes to finish the selection process and get checked out. Time was tickin’. I did not have time to stand around and be all sincere and stuff.
Can anyone else relate? How often do we start conversations with others built on a foundation of shallow pleasantries? We go through the motions of friendliness, hoping to give off the right vibe of perfect mothering, while our hearts inwardly cringe at the little white lies. We so desperately want others to think we’re doing this task of motherhood well. And not just that things are going well, but life is GREAT. Like faux-mazingly great!
Being real with one another takes humility. And being authentic, means allowing others to see inside the messiness of our daily lives. The moments that make up who we really are. The victories, the hurts, the uncomfortable. But as we share our hearts, we need a filter. The Holy Spirit can help us sort through what things are true and good, sifting out the yuck. And if we’re still uncertain, the book of Philippians contains a pretty thorough checklist for us:
So let’s do a little experiment. Let’s work toward being more authentic with one another. Whether put-together or messy (with our Spirit filter in place of course). Here’s how it works: The next time you run into someone and are tempted to start the ping-pong game of “I’m fine–How are you”… Don’t do it! Remind yourself that God doesn’t want you to be anyone other than who He created you to be. And a true friend won’t mind a little mess.
What are some ways we can be sincere and honest with our fellow mom friends without turning conversations into royal gripe sessions? We would love to hear your ideas.