In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
An online publication I follow experienced a hiccup this week. A mistake was made and a small measure of fallout ensued. It was interesting to see how the parties involved did, or did not, assume responsibility. They appeared to be stuck between a maintaining a good online image (the “rock” of a stunning, blemish free social media presence) and a hard place. Of course one never knows what goes on behind the scenes, but I wondered if perhaps there was a reluctance to admit a mistake. Which, in the end, seems an impossible standard to maintain.
While I was watching a popular design show on HGTV, one of the hosts admitted that she was suffering from sleep deprivation and her mouth was covered in cold sores. But then she declared, “I love my life!” There may have even been a reference to her life being perfect. I thought, are you serious? You’re so tired you can barely stand up and the stress is causing your mouth to become so acidic it breaks out in sores? Perfection? I don’t think so.
I know the feeling of keeping up appearances. The church can be a seductive place to live out one’s need to appear blameless and spotless. People dress in their Sunday best to commune with God and each other. But as I’m learning, social media is an equally seductive place to be drawn into the web of perfectionism. Instagram is overrun with lives that appear so perfect one wonders how these people live life between gorgeous vistas of the California coast and decadent meals laid out on marble counter tops. And all on a weekday. Pinterest invites one to curate a collection of seemingly unattainable dreams. We are tasked with making our entire lives beautiful enough to photograph and share with the world. This is an impossible standard to maintain.
The author of Ephesians makes a connection between words of truth and one’s salvation. I’m inclined to agree. What will surely save us from these impossible standards is our willingness to tell the truth about our mistakes. Otherwise we perpetuate this notion that the moment someone finds out we’re human we’ll fall from grace (or lose followers). Why not admit that the schedule we keep is killing us? Why not say we didn’t re-do our entire home from the studs up? And that’s OK: it’s still beautiful because its ours, filled with imperfect things, memories, and people. Our salvation comes in our ability to hold all of these things with compassion and acceptance. Mistakes are messy. Make them anyway. And tell the truth about them. It will be our salvation.
What words of truth might offer you salvation this day?