Fix Your Wig!

One of the most comical things in the human experience is to observe us when we are completely oblivious to something that is utterly obvious to everyone else. A circumstance, in which someone is so blind to his own awkwardness, dissonance, or contradictions, (especially when they are evident to everyone) can find me laughing in a nanosecond. Except when it’s me.

Tricia and I happened to be at dinner one evening many years ago when we noticed a couple entering the restaurant looking very disheveled and thrown together. The man’s shirt was only partially tucked in and the lapel of his jacket had blown upwards around his neck. His wife had a similar look as her raincoat was only partially over her shoulders and her umbrella nearly blown inside out.

As it turns out, it had begun to storm on their way in leaving the couple to run for their lives escaping gale force winds and a torrential downpour. It didn’t take long to notice that the gentleman’s hair also had a certain asymmetry to it. What at first merely resembled a wet, wind-blown coif upon closer observation had the appearance of a woolly accessory situated almost diagonally on top of his head. My OCD wanted to rush over and give it a firm tug to the left but of course, one can only observe these things from afar unless one wants the police showing up for dessert.

Maybe a good friend could have leaned in to the poor man and said, “Buford, bro, you need to fix your wig!” But, alas we weren’t those people so we just observed Buford enjoying his dinner and the oblivion of what appeared to be a small ferret-like critter parked on his lopsided noggin.

After howling together once we got in the car and then talking more soberly later we realized that there were many times that we were just like Buford. For instance, when one of us would go on a tirade we could be oblivious to the way we were coming off to others. Whether it was something we were throwing out in an argument, a rant with friends at dinner, or taking on a store clerk over a refund we were perfectly capable of being as oblivious to the way we were presenting ourselves as Buford was in his ill fitting wig.

Hence we coined our phrase, “Fix your wig!”

When one of us would hear the other going down a road that could prove embarrassing or maybe even irretrievable one of us would lean in and mumble, “You need to fix your wig!”

If the other didn’t respond to that, we might take on a more assertive tone with, “Seriously! You really need to FIX your wig.”

If one still chose to go full steam ahead the other might hear, “I’m not kidding. Your wig is freaking wrong side out right now. You need to stop!”

When everyone but me sees me as I am it is a sad commentary as I reveal my humanity in Technicolor. Despite the loving admonitions of those around me, I am perfectly capable of driving through all the warning signs until I come to consciousness having experienced the emotional equivalent of having dinner in public with a stray cat on my head.

My hope is that I will get better at heeding the warnings of those I’ve given permission to speak into my life and that I will surround myself with people who love me enough to tell me when my wig is a bit askew before I become the object of pathetic glances and curious bystanders.

Lastly, a trip to the mirror after running through a thunderstorm in fake hair is never a bad idea.

Between Black and White

I wrote this week that most of us lose our authentic selves by creating personas that we think our faith requires mistaking those for our authentic selves.

I’m beginning to see how many of us, not the least of which is me have lived with very skewed ideas about who we are and what we are to be about in light of our Christianity. Many of us have experienced a very dualistic faith. Things are either all good, or they’re all bad. People are divided into two groups. Good people and bad people. Saved people and lost people, in people or out people. I’m either completely certain, or I’m a complete agnostic (which really isn’t the exact opposite of certainty but in most circles still carries a very negative connotation).

It seems that it is from within that kind of mind that we begin to create our false selves. We have to. In a black and white faith the only safe thing we can do to fit in is to create the person we wish we were and then try to parade it around in public masquerading as us. Many of us have tried to embrace life in black and white yet life hands us twists and turns for which we are unprepared. Rather than addressing those challenging realities we go into damage control. If we can’t change our realities we try to change the way we present them or at least the way people perceive us to be living with them.

Life is anything but black and white. There are about a hundred scenarios in my life that I could rattle off without taking a breath for which I have no categories or clear grids from which to live them out. I’m not always going to cope with them extremely well and I’m not going to apologize for that anymore. I’m human, a human with every shade of gray inside and outside of my reality. I’m depending on the Holy Spirit to help me sift it out.

True faith doesn’t ask us to abandon our reality or the deepest things about who we are. It asks us to take the things that we are most impacted by and share them. In Micah we read that God has already told us what he requires of us – to uphold justice, to love mercy, and to walk in humility. If being honest about our heart isn’t humility then I don’t know what is. Jesus said that we could sum it all up by showing compassion to one another from a heart that loves God with our whole essence. Nowhere is the gospel telling us to take all the hard truth about our lives and hide it in a box in the basement.

This simple faith doesn’t require me to create a cut out version of me that is pristine and prop it up so that I’ll have credibility.