One thing I don’t do now nearly as much as I did as a kid is act.
Act like I’m happy when I’m sad.
Act like I’m fine when I’m mad.
Act like something is normal when it’s not.
Back then, acting was just a part of life. It was how I survived. I would rather act than deal with the complications that reality brought. I would do anything to avoid the uncomfortable. Even when the situation was dangerous.
As the years passed, God began to deal with me—the real me.
My high-wattage smile—the one that didn’t mean anything—began to fall away a little at a time until I stared at my true face in the mirror.
Who was I, if not the person trying to please everyone, trying to keep the peace when, really, real discussions needed to be had? I realized that growth is a beautiful part of life, and the relationships that are worth the work will survive the hard conversations.
These people want the best for me. They didn’t fall by the wayside just because of tightened words, because of sprinkled intense moments. Instead, these people rooted for me.
They were (and are) there for not only the glittery destination but the gritty journey.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that I had thoughts. I had opinions. I had likes and dislikes. And, this foreign concept was not a bad thing. The summary of these is what makes me, me. It’s okay to not solidly agree on everything with everyone.
Actually, that’s impossible.
And we can disagree respectfully and with grace.
Since this revelation, I have worked to pass the idea to my children. Only yesterday, my daughter and I spoke about how to speak to others, about how to respectfully disagree, about the importance of honest conversations and appropriate boundaries.
They say that we parents always want better for our children, and I couldn’t agree more.
I want them to start out with a better understanding that respectful honesty is truly a kindness, that respectful honesty is necessary in maintaining meaningful relationships.
You don’t have to act.
Act happy when you’re sad.
Act fine when you’re mad.
I want for them what I have now—a life that feels real. No wax figures with frozen smiles. No fake reality and parroting conversation. Smiles are full of sincerity. Agreements and disagreements are full of real parts of life that have been taken to heart from experiences with God.
Frankly, if you’re looking for a mirror-friend, a record-and-play-back loved one, you probably need to continue looking, because you won’t find that here.
No, instead, we’re going to laugh with our whole hearts, you know, the kind of laugh when you can’t even talk between breaths. We’re going to cry when the really hard parts of life—the ones we pray to learn invaluable lessons from God to survive—are thrown, like fastballs, at us. We’re going to have weird and difficult conversations when we have to, and we may even laugh afterward at the total weirdness of it all.
But, no more acting.
Let’s leave acting to the professionals.