Are you familiar with the “mannequin challenge” shared throughout social media? When the word is said, everyone freezes in their position capturing the moment in mid-stream. This caused me to reflect on my challenge during a high school elective class where I had the opportunity to work as a real-life mannequin. During an open house event, I was challenged to mirror a department store mannequin marketing retail clothing. As I stepped onto the platform I stepped into someone I was not. Perfect. Flawless. Perfectly put together. I took my place ready to appear fake, holding a plastic smile as if life was without trouble. Many attempted to break my polished pose by cracking jokes, poking me, or waiting to catch me blink. But, if my memory serves me, I fooled them all. (Insert smirking grin here.)
Have you ever tried being someone you’re not?
Is your exterior perfect, when inside you are undone?
Do you try and convince others you have everything together when you’re dying inside?
We protect ourselves from being real and raw, so we won’t get hurt. We convince ourselves that if people knew the real us, they would mock us, reject us, or condemningly judge us.
John 4:1-42 tells a story of a Samaritan woman, also known to us as the “woman at the well.” She too tried to avoid exposing her real self, but Jesus saw through her. On the outside, she was put together, strong, and confident. But on the inside she was a mess, lonely, broken, and lost.
As this woman engaged in conversation with Jesus he did not condemn her. He did not walk away. He did not discard her. He engaged with her because He could see through her mess, pain, and brokenness. He saw potential, beauty, purpose, and a heart that longed to be loved; truly loved in a way only He could fulfill.
My favorite part of her story is what happened once she stopped trying to be someone she was not. God used her to win her town for Christ! She was so free from the bondage of her own making that her image of perfection on the outside was no longer needed. She now had everything she ever needed, Christ Himself.
The day I posed as a mannequin I learned a few life lessons:
- Being fake does not invite people in, but pushes them away.
- People know when you are fake.
- It’s exhausting trying to be someone you’re not!
- It bears no good fruit.
- Loneliness becomes your only companion.
God designed us for relationship. Authentic relationship. We need friends that don’t have it all together and that share in similar life struggles. We need perfectly imperfect relationships, so we can be who we are. Flawed. Broken. Crazy. Dorky. Weepy. Funny. Scared. Needy. Perfection was only meant to be achieved by one person, Jesus. So, let’s authenticate our smile, breathe a little deeper, accept we need one another, and step off the platform into our perfectly imperfect selves.