I was looking at some pictures recently and had to laugh at my crazy family. Every year while on vacation we have someone take a family picture for us. Inevitably after sitting or standing relatively still for a number of pictures, my husband and children like to blow off a little steam and all of them strike some kind of silly pose. I would guess that most families do silly-pose pictures during family photo sessions for that very same reason.
The interesting question is, which picture do we usually send out to friends and family? Which one do we make our Facebook profile picture? Occasionally we’ll actually share one of those silly pictures. Usually though, it is the picture where everyone is at least looking in the same direction…or in the case of our family, the picture that has been edited to make it look like everyone was looking in the same direction. Sometimes it seems it’s all a matter of keeping the boundaries between perception and reality. Often I am the one that perpetuates the distance between other people’s perception of me and actual reality.
How can I help my children learn to live authentically, transparently, honestly and humbly? How can I teach them to live in a way that narrows the gap between perception and reality? First, I need to live that way myself. I do this by letting my children know me, by letting other people know the true me, and not some carefully constructed me. I need to be willing to let them know my mistakes, my mishaps, my disappointments as well as my hopes, dreams and victories. In sharing my story with my children, I am hopefully teaching them to be willing to share their story. As I share my story, I invite others to share in my life. If I take a risk and offer the parts of me that could be illustrated by the silly or awkward family pictures, I walk away from the loneliness of living up to the image I think others have of me and my family.
Family life is crazy and messy and uncomfortable and hilarious and difficult and painful. In all of those moments, life is better if it is shared. Let someone help carry the burden. Give someone a giggle by sharing about your mishap. In doing so, you will narrow the gap between perception and reality and be all the richer for it.
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