I stood in front of my mirror, arms aching. Another pull here, another tug there. Ugh! That’s not working. Gotta start all over.
I thought the purpose of a messy bun was to put my hair up quickly and easily? And it would look cute, like those women who throw on a cap after a shower and look put-together. A messy bun would be the perfect ‘do. Except it didn’t.
As I finally gave up and threw my hair into a ponytail, I couldn’t miss the irony. I was trying to orchestrate the fine details of a messy bun, for goodness sake!
As silly as this little conversation in front of the mirror sounds, I realized I have a tendency to try to “perfect the messy bun” in real life, too.
I want to be real. Authentic. Transparent. Vulnerable.
But I put limits on that part of myself, for the sake of appearance. The real, authentic, transparent, and vulnerable parts I let people see must be pulled and tugged so even the flaws will look just right. Because if the real me looks like I’ve got a crescent roll sitting on a broom with flyaways in all the wrong places, well that won’t do.
I think the metaphorical messy bun is just as much of a façade as the fancy French roll. It’s not the real me. It’s me masquerading as authentic because I’m not sure you’ll like the real me. You might reject the real me. The real me may turn you off.
So as long as my messy bun is attractive, I’m all in — for the sake of transparency, of course. Ahem.
A Little Logic
Now, lest you think I’m condoning a “let it all hang out there” philosophy, I’m not. Just as there’s a place for the real messy bun — it’s not on a sleek date night with my husband, but it is when we’re eating take-out at home — there’s a place for our authentic transparency. It’s probably not on social media, but it is in my small group at church. It’s probably not with the friend I just met, but it may be with the friend I’m getting to know better — and it’s definitely with a friend who has proven trustworthy.
But as long as we insist on perfecting our messy buns, none of us will scratch the surface of real relationship:
Relationship that earns the right to deal with the messy.
Relationship that is safe for the unkempt.
Relationship that loves whether we’ve thrown our hair up or glammed it up for the evening.
Relationship that is two people with real, ugly-looking messy buns together, speaking truth to one another, praying for each other as God molds each of us to His definition of beauty.
Since you put away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another.–Ephesians 4:25
Confession: I have always skimmed over the verse above, Ephesians 4:25. Why? Because I can count on my hand how many times I’ve lied in my life, and most of those happened in elementary school. Lying has never been one of my hang-ups. (Part of that, I’m sure, was an early realization that I’m a horrible liar.)
But I wonder if by not being real, authentic, transparent, and vulnerable to our sisters (and brothers) in Christ, if we’re not lying in a roundabout way? When I manufacture and try to control how you perceive me, instead of showing you the true me, is that not deceitful at its core?
The Risk Runs Both Ways
This is getting personal. This is getting frightening. If I’m going to heed this command and speak truth in deed as well as in word, then I had better have my satisfaction in who I am in Christ firmly rooted. Yes, letting others see the messier sides of ourselves carries risk. But as long as I’m secure in who I am as a child of God — in the deepest recesses in my heart — I can risk authenticity.
What we don’t always understand is our unwillingness to be real and authentic carries a cost. It’s costing our relationships. It’s costing our unity. It’s costing us our witness in the world when Jesus said the world would know we are His by our LOVE (John 13:35). Run-of-the-mill love the world already has seen. But this messy, unconditional, forgiving, 1 Corinthians 13 love that Jesus desires for us as members of one another…now THAT sets us apart.
For my part, I’m praying that God will show me when I’m trying to perfect the messy bun — when I’m trying to manufacture how another perceives me. Then, once I’m aware, I’ll be praying for the strength to reveal the real me.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. –James 5:16
Will you join me?