I’ve never posted a picture to Instagram that betrays my darkest thoughts–one of a bucolic glade of pine trees, the earth soft with fallen needles, whose caption would read: “This would be a peaceful place to lie down and die.” Nor have I posted a picture of tears streaming down my face with a caption telling how I am feeling completely and utterly alone, that I am berating myself for being a failure to my family while sitting at a picnic table in a completely full campground with Erin and the boys only feet away. Yet, both of these scenes have played out in my life, the former more than once.
Many share every aspect of their sanitized lives on social media, from the food they eat to the hangnail they had on Tuesday. But we gloss over the struggle, or more often leave it out entirely. Recently I’ve felt that the Lord is leading me to change my narrative to one that stirs emotion; and contemplation and encourages people to slow down and see the nuances of life. Too often, we are not true to ourselves and thus we are not authentic with the world at large. I am no different, only depicting, in images and words, what does not betray the turmoil I have roiling inside me, leaving the authenticity out because I felt utterly alone in my struggle and how can you bring hope, joy and encouragement when you are talking about the darker aspects of life? Until recently, I did not understand that in standing up and saying, “This is me. I have depression, and this is how I am learning to live with it,” I was showing courage and thus could encourage others.
If I were to post a picture of the spot I’d picked out to lie down and die and said as much in the caption, would that be wrong? Horrifying, certainly, but not wrong. After all, it is about being as genuine as I possibly can. That can mean posting a strange bug the cat found that fascinates me, a sign that made me laugh out loud, or tears streaming down my face because on that day the darkness grabbed ahold of me so tightly that despite my best efforts I just could not get off the couch. Knowing others know my genuine joys and struggles, I hope, opens up a needed conversation in their lives or at least brings a small bit of understanding. Being authentic helps me to know that I am not alone, and that small seed of hope can grow mighty.