I remember reading an online article/blog post titled “Beware the Myspace Angles.” The author’s intent was to humorously warn guys who may be trying to meet women online (specifically Myspace), never to trust what they see in a profile picture. They demonstrated that those profile pictures are usually taken from an angle that most flatters the person pictured, who after further investigation, was found not to be nearly as attractive as the picture might suggest.
These women, I’m sure, were just trying to put their best face forward (after careful cropping and other photo adjustments). You can see in a video posted here, how this same approach is used by the media as well.
In the relative anonymity of the internet, it is a lot easier to reflect who we want to be, instead of who we really are. This is not a new phenomenon. It predates the internet, and can be found in every social circle, and most especially in the church. The fact is:
- Christians have rarely been open and honest about their personal struggles.
- This lack of honesty stems mostly from the fear being judged and/or condemned by other Christians, and partly from being too proud to admit to having problems.
- Christians have a reputation of being quick to judge, and neither willing nor able to show mercy.
As a result, we have a lot of people putting their best face forward, while never getting the help and support they need to deal with their issues. They know what to say and do to give the impression that they are fine, all while fighting their battles alone.
- We who are strong should bear the burdens of those who are weak.
- We should confess our faults one to another and pray for one another that we may be healed.
We have a responsibility to help those who need it, and that we should not fear to be honest about our struggles, because our prayers for each other will bring healing to all of us.
I believe that the key component in this is humility, not the false humility that we display when we down-talk ourselves and refuse to receive complements from others, but the real humility that comes from the knowledge that we are inherently helpless to do anything to change ourselves; that our lives are totally dependent on God’s strength. Paul the Apostle wrote that God’s strength is made perfect in weakness, and I believe that our inability to come to terms with our weakness keeps us from experiencing God’s strength.
My hope is that we all can find ourselves in a group of people with whom we can we can truly exercise these simple truths. That we can bear one anothers burdens, we can confess our faults to each other, and truly pray for one another. That we can truly be ourselves, and stop worrying about the angles.