Every year it seems our society is more obsessed with Hallmark Christmas movies than the year before. We are now able to enjoy them in July as well as during the holiday season. Who doesn't love a sappy-happy movie where everything works out just fine?
Life is messy yet the movies and entertainment we choose can blur our reality. The family dinner that looks perfect on screen or even in our Instagram photos doesn't show the harsh reality that life hurts. Plastic smiles don't reveal the tension between family members. Posed pictures don't whisper the gossip between those who no longer talk to each other. No matter how hard we try to make everything just so we will never be able to attain how life is portrayed on screen.
It isn't real.
Movies, books, and television shows create an illusion of how we want life to appear and we can be overwhelmed when trying to accomplish this or even be left discouraged and depressed when it can't be done. Some of us try to project an image of a perfect life as we plaster our social media pages with pictures of the parties, décor, and other things we dress up our days with. My friend Ella crafts and sews her home into submission but I know the sadness she secretly hides behind her picture perfect home. We share secrets.
My life resembles the before picture in a shampoo commercial more than a Hallmark movie. I recently made a triple-layer chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting (all from scratch, thankyouverymuch) to take to a dinner party. I spent four hours on this cake. Four. Hours. From start to finish. I was quite proud as I gently tucked it into my Tupperware cake carrier. Locking the sides in I pushed away the premonition I'd had all day that this cake was going to end up on the floor. I picked the carrier up and took it into a cooler area of the house so the frosting would set. As I got ready to put it down one locked side let go and the cake and bottom of the carrier landed on the floor. I stood, frozen in place, and screamed a drawn out, "No..." at the top of my lungs. There was no time to make another. Not even enough time to make my no-fail brownies. There was time to clean up the mess and toss the whole thing in the trash, call our hostess to see if we needed to stop at the store for a dreaded store-bought dessert (no need, thankfully), grab the pasta salad made the day before, and drive the ten miles to our celebration. Sans cake.
I stewed over the caketastrophe and cringed when I realized this was a lesson in humility. I was a little too proud of my creation. I knew it would be the shining star at the party. I was ready for the praise it would garner. And there would have been praise. Instead I shared my cake fail with the group, I popped the bubble of any idea that I have it all together and just let my humanity shine, because the truth is life is messy. Real life bears no resemblance to the fictional world we surround ourselves with. Real life is my friend Colleen who watched her dog relieve himself on her decorated Christmas tree. Real life is Melissa who forgot she put her pumpkin pie on the hood of her car until she stopped at a stop sign and watched it slide and crash. Real life is knowing not everyone at the dinner table gets along. Real life isn't pretty but it's the truth.
Let's put aside chasing perfection and not be afraid to live life honestly, in it's messiness and ugliness. It's in the middle of the mess we learn and grow.
I'm making another cake today. A simple carrot cake with cream cheese icing. It isn't going to look perfect but it will accompany the simple meal I'm cooking for a group of Godly men who are visiting for dinner tonight. While they are here they will make decisions and pray for our church. Instead of patting myself on the back for the work of art I'm baking, this time I'm praying for the people and words spoken in my home this evening.