"But...is it OK that I'm different now? I feel like people just want me to go back to the way I was before." Tears gathering at the corners of her bright blue eyes, she waits for the answer. And then we talk - just like all the other talks that I've had before, with women who've asked personal versions of the very same questions. Women who've seen or done hard things and who can't undo them.
Am I acceptable even if I've changed?
Is it OK to refuse the veneered version of myself?
Will people still like me if I put my real self out there?
When I was little, people used to give me Barbies. While it was a nice gesture, this active Midwestern girl used to cut that doll's hair at the first opportunity. Yep. Chopped it right off. Nobody in my own life looked like her, which was interesting considering I was European(ish), middle class, and that my friends and I had Moms who were still pretty young. That revelation of social standing in mind, I decided I didn't trust Barbie - not one bit. And so, there went her hair...at least that way she'd look more like my own Mom.
If you've paid any attention to the news this summer, then you've probably noticed that Barbie got a makeover. Mattel launched their "You Can Be Anything" campaign. Now, there are (slightly less thin and slightly more unique) versions of the plastic phenom including:
Dress like a "doctor" Barbie.
Dress like a "skateboarder" Barbie.
Dress like a "fairy princess," "business woman," or a "pilot" Barbie.
You get the idea. She can be anything...well, at least she accessorizes like it. And so can you!
Now before you accuse me of coming down too hard on poor 'ole Barbie, know that I sincerely believe that role play and creativity is important to a child's development. Keeping that in mind, we're just as likely to try on personas at age 20, 30, 40, and so forth, right? It's true of our professions, hobbies, and yes, even our faith.
Now back to my questioning friend. Is it ok that I'm different now? That I've seen hard things and can't pretend? Like so many other men and women - she's exhausted from trying to rock the "put together," Jesus-lovin' persona. Christian Barbie. It's the same persona that's happy-go-lucky all the time and forever willing to put others first, regardless of the spiritual drought happening on the inside.
Did you know that it's absolutely possible for the fruits of our God-relationship to be reduced to a "look," an outfit?
The fatigue. The communication breakdowns. The fear. Relationship discord. The cracks in our faith are exposed when the chaos of the world creeps into our homes and our hearts, leaving us with tough questions and confusing answers. We know when we start to ponder the 'what if's.'
Fake divides. It deceives and it manipulates. That shiny Barbie hair...it simply has to go.
So yes, in case you're still wondering, it's perfectly, fantastically, refreshingly OK if you end up feeling different afterwards.
So long "Christian Barbie",
Have you ever felt like you had to wear a fake smile?
What does deep, honest faith look like in your life?
"This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No—but at least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can." 2 Corinthians 2:16-17, Msg.
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.