Sunday, March 11, 2007

Prayer: Put Your Best Face Forward

I love social networking sites like myspace ( I love these sites because I have found old friends and met lots of interesting people. For those of you that are unfamiliar with these sites, you can upload pictures of yourself, design a page with colors you like, and set up a profile with your interests and facts about you (favorite books, tv shows, etc.)

This week I thought a lot about myspace. One thing that is so striking about myspace is that the profiles always seem to paint such a positive picture of the person. In fact, I would venture a guess that most of the descriptions on myspace are not so much descriptions of who we are, but are instead descriptions of who we want the world to believe we are. For example, if you read my profile, you will find out that I work as an attorney at a job I love, that I have a beautiful family that I adore, and that I love to read, have intellectual debates, and drink flavored coffee and tea. Every picture on the page is a flattering photo that captures either my family or me at our best – smiling and happy for the camera. They will also find that I have over 130 “friends.”

Everything that is on my profile is true and accurate. However, those that are closest to me know that simply because the words and pictures that are on the page are true and accurate does not mean that the profile paints a complete picture of who I am. My closest family and friends will tell you that I am not always smiling. They also know that sometimes I get frustrated with my family, and sometimes, despite all of my friends, I feel lonely. I often feel guilty about working outside the home and feeling torn between my career and my family. And although I do enjoy a good intellectual debate, sometimes I am just tired and not up for it.

I know that at this point you are probably wanting me to get to the point. The point is this – myspace is sort of like a personal ad. If you are smart, you are going to “advertise” the best qualities about yourself and your life. However, this is not a phenomena unique to social networking sites. The majority of us lead our lives the way that we treat a social networking site. We let others see the part of us that we want them to see. We show them the characteristics of us that we feel are most appealing. We do this in an attempt to gain love, affection, respect, power, and status. I think that we also try to do this with God. We spend much of our prayer life trying to show God the part of us that we think he wants to see. We are not “lying” to others or to God when we do this - we are simply not revealing the whole of ourselves.

Psalm 17:1-5 (The Message) states:

1-2 Listen while I build my case, God, the most honest prayer you'll ever hear.
Show the world I'm innocent—
in your heart you know I am.
3 Go ahead, examine me from inside out,
surprise me in the middle of the night—
You'll find I'm just what I say I am.
My words don't run loose.
4-5 I'm not trying to get my way
in the world's way.
I'm trying to get your way,
your Word's way.
I'm staying on your trail;
I'm putting one foot
In front of the other.
I'm not giving up.

I think this scripture speaks for itself. How many of us can say to God, “examine me from the inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night – You’ll find I’m just what I say I am.” How many of us could say that to our nearest and closest friends and family?

In order to grow, we have to be real. Being real means that sometimes we have to reveal to God and to others, as well as acknowledge to ourselves, that we have weaknesses, fears, sins, and problems. It is only when we are honest with ourselves, others, and God that we can begin to change.

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