Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.
I grabbed a shopping basket and headed to the produce.
Note: I grabbed a basket. I have no idea why, other than I had a brief lapse of identity – which led to this post.
I’m a mom of 5. I haven’t used a grocery basket since college. In fact, once upon a time, I had two 2 year-olds and a new baby, and I finagled two carts - pushing/pulling with one cart for the baby in the car seat and another for actual groceries, with one two year-old in the front of each cart. Those grocery trips inevitably ended in tears and meltdowns.
My tears and meltdowns, that is.
So anyway, there I was, with a cute little grocery basket on my arm. And, I was wearing a white coat, a lovely, tailored-looking thing with big buttons. I should mention it is a hand-me-down, as I’d never spend money on a red juice stain waiting to happen.
And, suddenly, I feel quite put together and professional - and, well, not like a mom of 5.
Then, I saw the kids’ favorite snacks on sale for 3 for $5.00. I just couldn’t help myself, shoving them all in the basket. Then, my heart warmed at the popcorn, after all, it was a cold day and we could have a family movie night. (Always more ideal and smiley in my mind’s eye.) And then, well, Maggie just loves bagels in the morning, which called for cream cheese as well. And, Samuel, yeah, he’s had rough spell and strawberries always make his day. Not to mention, I'd need to feed the tribe lunch tomorrow, since it would be Saturday, so I figured I may as well grab supplies for a roast.
That’s when I thought: Who am I kidding anyway?
I’m not the grocery basket type. This is all an act.
I rarely have epiphanies like this in the grocery story. But, I’ve been agonizing over this blog and the idea of “creating a brand” and “voice” and all this stuff that goes with blogging. It requires me to know who I am, really know it, and then just put it out there. And, that’s a wee bit of a problem for me. I overthink things and shy away from boxes. As soon as I make a decision, my creativity kicks in and invents 137 other scenarios.
But, that day, I found some sure-footing. And, I think it’s sure enough to pass along:
Just be you, whoever it is that comes naturally. Don’t fake it. If you must mimic, always add your own flair. You’re unique, which means no one will ever “get” you completely or accomplish what you can or shine like you do.
Just be you. Drop the act.
By the time I lugged my bulging, burden-basket to the cashier, my right arm had begun to tingle under its weight.
Because, seriously, it’s painful and exhausting to fake it. Life’s just too short to spend it being phony, isn’t it?
The world needs more undiluted, whole-hearted people who will show up brave and authentic.
But, how? The art of “finding yourself” or “knowing yourself” isn’t accomplished by more facebook quizzes or personality profiles (although I am all but obsessed with personality studies). It can’t be defined by the selfies we take or the hashtags we attach to the image we’ve generated of oursevles. It isn’t about the perfect spouse, the right number of kids, or a gorgeous home with full garage.
The truest version of you is only revealed as you seek your Creator.
A relationship with our Father through Jesus is the plumb line that guides and directs our growth. He who formed our hearts, lit up our passions, framed our experiences, and orchestrates our days – he alone opens up and unleashes authenticity, all while tending the delicate sprout of you safely in his love.
And, only in the presence of the divine are we safe enough, accepted enough, and loved enough to be real.
Everything else is an attempt.
So, exactly $36.54 worth of groceries had fit in that cute, little basket. I carried them out and left my identity crisis behind. But, in case I was still deliberating, reality leaped out at me when I arrived at my parking spot. There, was my mini-van mobile screaming, “This lady’s a mom of a lot of kids! She spends her money on kids’ shoes rather than car washes!”
I opened the door (the one on which Lillian practiced her ABCs with a rock a few years back), got in that blessed vehicle, and drove the real me home.