I am a master of special effects.
Until you see it, you wouldn’t believe what I can accomplish with tricks and tools in my makeup bag.
I’ve been lamenting the loss of the pretty things, like the mascara and red lipstick, but there’s one daily monster that comes with a bare face. I have to work pretty hard to keep it from eating me alive.
Without makeup, there’s no editing. No concealing. No power over the things about my face and my skin I don’t like. Which, let’s face it, is the tip of the insecurities iceberg.
Very often when people hear about my Lent project, they offer encouragement on how nice I look without makeup, how real, how clean, etc. I am grateful for all the encouragement, but I don’t know what to do with it. I simply can’t believe that things are ok–more than ok, good–if they haven’t been cleaned up, polished, put in line with a set of standards.
But I know I can never meet the standards.
I’m already defeated.
I can never appease the god that demands perfection in exchange for love.
I can’t even appease the god that just demands “more.”
Editing, for me, is an act of worship. I compulsively bow to the god that demands I do things, say things, or look the “right” way if I am going to be blessed with affirmation, affection, stability, and security.
And so I edit everything.
Until Lent, only people who lived with me saw my unedited face. I’m not joking. I could count the people on my fingers in California who hadn’t seen me put together in some way.
The trouble is that I’m discovering the obsession with editing didn’t live alone in my makeup kit. The need for control and approval is a virus that’s infected every capillary of every tissue of my being.
At one point, Tiffany, in Silver Linings Playbook says, “There’s always going to be a part of me that’s sloppy and dirty, but I like that. With all the other parts of myself.”
I was so jealous of her right then.
And she’s supposed to be the crazy one.
When I edit, I’m doing whatever I can to cover up that I’m not smooth enough, cool enough, graceful enough young enough, old enough, thin enough, pretty enough quiet enough to belong here. To belong with whomever I’m facing right then.
Or when I edit, I’m doing whatever I can so you don’t see that I’m too passionate, too messy, too disorganized, too slow, too smart, too wordy, too intense, too affectionate, too frustrated, too artsy, too intellectual…. If I edit right, if I follow the rules, I won’t be too much.
We lay our sacrifices at the feet of our gods. This god’s pyre demands some of my best things.
Yesterday, I made a case for manners and soft words. I questioned the virtue of “keeping it real”, of unfiltered speech.
But I want to offer a defense for that.
As a culture, we are so hungry for unfiltered speech. For someone to speak plainly.
I think about how people liked Jennifer Lawrence more at the Oscars because she talked about how she was starving on the red carpet and tripped on her way up to get her Oscar. She got a pass for her awkwardness and blunders because she was being “real”. Her backstage interview is a real gem. And she wasn’t even operating in her mentally-ill role.
This obsession with editing and filtering is the real crazy.
How can I possibly testify that for Freedom I have been set free if live I’m slave to my filters?
The God that I worship–the one, true God–doesn’t require that of me. It’s true that things are not ok as they are, but His work isn’t concealing or removing.
It’s Refining. Purifying. Unveiling.
We can participate in this work by keeping it real. And we encourage others to do the same by going first.
Especially if we have a microphone.