40-day Bare Face: Day 27 – Real

You’d think that knocking makeup out of my routine would help me get out the door a lot faster.
I thought so anyway.
Nope.
I still flew out the door 12 minutes late, shoes in hand, coffee spilling everywhere.

It turns out  more than makeup separates my pajama self from my public self.

It’s not that my pajama self is anything to be ashamed of. 

Trust me: I rock my princess pajama pants, humongous basketball sweatshirt, bunny slippers, and tower of blond hair piled atop my head like Mulan’s. I could leave the house that way,  but everyone would agree: That’s insane. I’d. look. insane. Unprofessional. Unemployable.
Unapproachable. 
Putting on my public self still takes real effort and time.  And it’s important.
No makeup has me thinking a lot about our public faces.

In California, I’m finding a strange cultural contrast with how I grew up: people like it when you “keep it real” here. Old social rules are arbitrary. Formalities trap you in insincerity. Real people are who they are. They say what they want, when they want, and irreverence gets applause.  

Other places I have lived, thinking of a certain England or the South, come with elaborate codes of manners. There is a rule for any social situation. There is a pattern for how to treat people, and it’s offensive when you don’t comply. Often, working knowledge of the rules determines a person’s social place. There is a lot of saying what you don’t mean because you’re supposed to.

I want to offer a defense for that.

It’s not all about performance for approval and power, the thing that “keeping it real” is supposed to remedy.  When it’s done right, it’s about attending to the people around you, putting others before yourself, and caring for them well.

I understand that if you’re my age, you might not have been raised with etiquette and manners training. I get that the 60s taught our parents to hate that stuff. I get that it’s never really been a thing out here in California.

But “keeping it real” can make things rough. We shove our sentences, delivering them with unnecessary roughness. It often makes more room for selfishness and self-absorption than it does for other people’s needs. The loudest and most powerful are the ones that get heard and get their way.

What you do for the least of these, you do for Me.

I also get that if you don’t, from your deepest heart, live by the command “Love your Neighbor” and follow the Person who said it, you don’t have any motivation other than power and approval to follow the code.

But if you are such a follower, then you should welcome any help you can get in knowing how to care well for people. You should be thankful for the rules that remind you to pay attention to other people when it doesn’t come naturally to you. You should be mindful of the turns of phrase and civilities that systematically allow us to honor the personhood of strangers. We need help knowing how to love our neighbor.

It matters because they will know Whom we follow by our Love. 
The code creates a consistent system of care. That consistency offers security in relationships which is counter-cultural.  It offers peace through stability of people knowing what to expect. Politeness offers us a cushion of grace around our interactions.

We were told to do this a long time ago.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

That grace makes room and a soft landing for those who come into your heart, or open their heart to you. 
It gives TWO people the space to keep it real. 
Together.
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