12 October, 2012

An image of myself

Yesterday, after I wrote that blog post about lurking but non-commenting readers of blogs, I attended a Beth Moore Bible study. We're doing Daniel and yesterday was about that famous Chapter 3, where King Nebuchadnezzar sets up that huge statue and forces people to bow down to it, but the three Israelites don't and are cast into the hot furnace.
This is one image I
sometimes have of myself —
a hero. Not true, though.

Beth made a point about how we make images of ourselves. And the way that we know if are doing that is if the "out there" image that others have of us is different to the real, fair dinkum us. That challenged me. I don't think any human is totally free of this temptation to put a different "self" out there on display.

As I pondered the various comments on my blog this morning I realised again that one of the reasons I write this blog is to knock down some of that not-quite-true image that people have of me (and missionaries in general). It is risky putting words about myself out there where anyone can read them. But it is necessary to take risks like this, I think, if I am to live an honest live. Sure it doesn't need to be on a blog, that is just one route, but there are other ways to live a life among others that is true to who we truly are. Sure, different people are more private than others, but by hiding behind "I'm a private person therefore I don't have to tell people who I really am", we're believing the lie that it's okay to set up for ourselves a public image that deceives others.

I need to have things out there about myself that maybe I feel a bit uncomfortable about, if I'm to be truthful about myself before others. If I hide them (and there are things I hide, no doubt about it), then I'm not being truthful and I'm deliberately creating an image of myself that I believe others will like better than the real one. And that is not in line with what God wants me to do.

And of course there needs to be a balance. One that we need to seek God to find, because left to our own devices, we'll choose "nice, perfect-ish image" every single time.

Writing this post makes me feel uncomfortable. It probably makes you feel uncomfortable too.  I don't apologise for that. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is talking to you, as he is me, about how I live my life. And how it doesn't always please him. I need to hear that. If I just stay comfortable, I won't grow.

If you're interested in other times I've pondered about honesty, I wrote about it in this post (it has links to a number of other posts I've also written). 


Deb said...

"If I hide them...then I'm not being truthful and I'm deliberately creating an image of myself that I believe others will like better than the real one."

I'm not sure I think this is true in all cases. In the world of cyberspace, we all have to be careful with our "image". Not so that we can appear more wonderful than we really are, but for a number of valid reasons. Obviously, there are safety issues that we take into account when making personal information available to the whole world. But also, when your audience is unseen and unknown, there's also godly wisdom in being careful with how much of your personal self you share. I don't think this is "hiding". I think it's being careful that what we say "benefits those who listen" (Eph 4). What we share with our family or with those who walk closely with us, probably should be different to some degree with what we share with someone we barely know. It should differ by degree but not in honesty or content. Does that make sense?

Sarah said...

I see your point and I see Deb's as well. I strive to show both the good and not-so-good bits of my life on my blog, but I've learnt hard lessons while blogging that there are some things that just don't belong online. Back to the lurkers' issue again, you never know just who is reading. I've had people read very personal things I've written and then ridicule or use them against me. Therefore, I've had to make the decision not to put certain things online, but rather share them privately with close friends.

Having said that, I can see why blogging is a cheap form of therapy. There are some things I can write much better than I can say. It has been encouraging knowing there are fellow bloggers out there who can relate to my struggles.

I certainly don't wish to be portrayed as perfect. That doesn't encourage anyone and it isn't true anyway. But I think that no matter how much we may try to portray a balanced view of ourselves, there will be others who will accuse us of boasting. I know I've felt jealous while reading about some people's lives on Facebook, but maybe they weren't trying to make me feel jealous. Maybe that's just my sinful, coveting nature coming into play.