I Invite You to a Wholly Unedited Lent
Two summers ago, my husband and I scored great seats at a Cardinals game and I forgot my phone. Alas, I couldn’t post about it on Facebook. I couldn’t show off my sweet seats on a beautiful night at the best ballpark in the country. My night felt incomplete. I wasn’t fully enjoying the game because I couldn’t share the awesomeness of it on Facebook.
There’s this plastic-like sheen covering everything that appears on my Facebook feed. We post only the best photos of ourselves and our lives. We untag ourselves from unflattering snapshots (at least I do). We share breathtaking views from beautiful vacation spots. We edit and filter. We Photoshop. We hire professional photographers.
By the grace of God, we are given life and joy and love and beauty. But we also experience suffering, pain, ugliness and messiness. We don’t lose the baby weight a week after the baby comes (at least I don’t). We suffer disappointments daily, maybe even hourly. That’s life. Where’s the hashtag for melancholy? Who’s going to post a picture of their mediocre meal? If we post our grief months or years after a trauma, will our friends get tired of the doom and gloom? Where’s the space on social media for us to be real, to be whole, to be rough around the edges?
The kind of self-promotion and self-editing that goes on on social media seems to dance with sin. We like to think that we can project a self that nears perfection. And when we work towards that end, we forget to acknowledge that God goes to our dark places and dwells with us there. If we can’t acknowledge our own darkness, our own realness, our own sinfulness, aren’t we also failing to acknowledge the depth and breadth of God’s love?
Lent is a time of self examination, prayer, fasting and self denial. Participating in #lentunedited is about each of these things. I'll admit, it's pretty difficult for me, the author of this whole Unedited business to come up with a truly unedited post. I wanted to at least be ironic, witty or tie a bow around the whole thing. Leaving my vulnerability for all of my Facebook friends to see is humbling and terrifying. But it’s absolutely about self examination (looking at how we post and why), fasting (giving up the filter, the photoshop, the pride), and self denial (denying our instincts to make ourselves look more perfect than we are).
And then there’s prayer… When you see someone being real, pray for them. When you’re about to hit the share button on an unedited post and you’re petrified, stop and pray. Remember that God does not demand perfection. Neither does your community. Remember that no matter how bad your day was, how little you got done, how dark things might be for you, we are all created in love, made to love, and made to be real and be human. Let’s be human together.
- The Rev. Hope Welles Jernagan, Episcopal Priest, mother of 3, recovering perfectionist