I raised some questions last week about the Facebook “friend” who posted a vulgarism and couldn’t (wouldn’t?) delete it. Well, far be it from me to turn away from a custom-made bulletin article, so allow me to elaborate a bit.
The curator of a museum is responsible for the content of the museum’s displays. They acquire permanent additions, they arrange for temporary exhibits, they generally set it up so that the museum receives the maximum possible amount of positive attention. “That place is amazing!” would-be attendees say to one another. “We absolutely have to go there!”
The plumbing problems, the mounting debt, the personality flaws of the artists — those are not to be put on display. These negative traits of the museum are every bit as real, perhaps even more so, than the positive ones. But they stay hidden from the public if the curator has anything to say about it.
Social media has been described as a way of “curating” our lives. We put on display only those aspects that we wish to show. Generally that means all good news, all the time — pictures of our dinner, or of the family at the amusement park. That sort of thing. “My life is great! Don’t you wish you were me?” is the general idea. Or perhaps a bit of wisdom or humor we tracked down on the internet — which, presumably, prove that we ourselves are wise or humorous. Occasionally we may post a vague request for emotional support — “Can’t get into it now, but I need your prayers,” “Feeling especially glum today,” “New shoes, what do you think?”, etc. But let’s be honest; those tend very strongly to be more in the “begging for compliments” category and less in the “I am weak and I need help” category; after all, if we really needed help, we would actually talk about our problems.
Actually, “talk about our problems” is another example of the same phenomenon. Sometimes we can’t seem to talk about anything else. But I would venture to say, in at least 90 percent of these cases the “problems” in question are not our fault; they are topics of conversation mostly to generate pity or place blame. It’s the same principle, really — allowing people to see the part of our lives that we are willing to expose — and absolutely nothing else.
But that is not how we build relationships. That is how we build walls.
The Bible tells Christians, “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another” (James 5:16). The prayers of righteous brethren “can accomplish much,” as the text goes on to read, because we have created real and lasting bonds. They know our weaknesses, so they can minister to us in our weaknesses. Hiding our weaknesses may make us feel secure in the short term, but what they really do is prohibit our spiritual family from doing its job — and hindering our own ability to grow and mature.
The curated life is all about appearances. We want to act like everything is wonderful — especially when it isn’t. The vulnerable life is all about realities. We are in constant need of assistance, and we want to make ourselves available to the ones most willing and able to offer it.
That is not to say you should take to Facebook and begin confessing every character flaw in front of the whole world. But perhaps privately admitting our frailties and weaknesses to a trusted brother or sister in Christ would not be the worst idea in the world.
I was recently injured while making popcorn. True story. A stray kernel decided to pop within the fluffy confines of the bowl instead of in the popper — hardly unusual. But this one sent a piece of hot bran straight into my right eyelid. If I had that eye wide open at the time, it could have done serious damage. As it was, I only had nagging pain for a couple of days — a small price to pay for a good story, I say.
My father is losing blood at the time of this writing. No one knows why. No one seems terribly worked up about it, though; doctors are on the case, he is well supervised, the issue (accidental pun alert) is being addressed and will soon be resolved.
I’m not worried. Really. Not worried. The face I am wearing now is the face of me not being worried.
Young people in Indonesia are boiling women’s sanitary products (there’s a euphemism for you) and drinking the water. Evidently it gets them high. I am not making this up. This is real.
This process is not safe; that fact probably does not take you by surprise. But the illness that it reveals is far worse than any condition that might result.
I was distracted on my drive in to work today by a high-flying flock of gliding birds. They acted very much like buzzards, except they were too high up and occasionally showed flashes of white. I finally decided they must have been bald eagles.
It was really quite inspiring.