Monday, December 16, 2013

Snapshots and truth

"Writing does have consequences.
Especially if you tell the truth...
However, I am quite sure that if you
tell the truth, you will feel something real."
~Marion Roach Smith

"I had to face myself and the truth of my passions:
all things wild, including words, words that 
could not be tamed, words that if cut would bleed,
not words cautiously rendered,
dressed up and disguised."
~Terry Tempest Williams

"Incongruent living is exhausting."
~Brene Brown

I stopped writing Christmas letters three years ago.

It seemed to me, as I wrote them year after year, that no one would want to know the not-so-pretty stuff of our average days.  And why would I want to write of that stuff anyway, to those family and friends who never see me, instead of the sanitized only-the-good version?  So I carefully chipped out of our year the accomplishments and ta-da's of each member of my family, painting us in pastels with fine brush strokes that had no defined edges.  

But words have consequences, even true words.  When I found out that far away people I loved (the ones that only had those yearly printed Christmas snapshots as evidence) had an air-brushed view of our life, I had the naivete to be surprised.

And yet, who writes, "my youngest has an anger issues", or "I've been struggling with depression for years", or "our house always looks like a disaster" in a Christmas letter?

So I stopped writing them.

It was just about a year ago that I made the internal promise to live authentically.  This does not mean that I will shout from the rooftops any little wrinkle in my life, or gush every feeling I have, but it does mean that in my own quiet way I will live truthfully.  I will assess myself, my faith, my relationships, my calendar with eyes that are clear and open.  I will speak truth to myself, and to those around me, instead of hiding and trying to impress.

This promise I made.  It's about the stripping away of all that clouds my intention to have a one-piece life.

So this year a Christmas photo card will go out for the first time since The Year the Christmas Letters Stopped.  It will be unaccompanied.  It will be a true snapshot without elaboration, and without the clutter of only part of the story.  

"But above all, in order to be, never try to seem."
~Albert Camus