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No Pretense; No Tension

Is it possible I’m actually invisible?  I mused as I sat in the “Old Gym”.  Never mind the “New Gym” had been constructed 20 years prior.  In a community changing at the speed of icebergs, where I sat would forever be known as the “Old Gym”.

I felt where I sat – old, tired, unnoticed.

I still had difficulty fitting in and making friends. I thought it was my “outsider” status. I’d only lived in the community three years. I’d be the “New Girl” in the “Old Gym” for at least a generation.

I wanted my peers to notice me, to think me interesting and desire to include me.

In a split second I’d formed my plan.“I’m moving to Paris,” I announced to my classmates.

My dishonesty was rewarded with immediate interest. As the questions flew through the air, satisfaction settled in as a temporary residence. In no time, my pals asked questions my loosely concocted story couldn’t answer. My web of lies grew wider and more complex until even I had no idea what I’d said.

How I wish I could go back and whisper in the ear of the teenage version of myself. I would tell her…

pretense and dishonesty doesn’t garner lasting relationships.

At best it creates tension in them and at worst destroys them.

As women, if we were honest, aren’t we still tempted by pretense? Sure we may not make an outlandish claim based on relocation to a foreign country. But I’d be lying if I said I’d never dressed with other’s approving looks in view of my mind. I’d be dishonest if I said I never told the best about my children to validate my mothering.

Twenty-five years later, I’m still the “New Girl” — I’ve moved 17 times in 41 years. Making friends is still a challenge but one I conquer through honesty, not deception. I’ve found when I present a real woman who some days yells at her kids and other times writes sweet notes on their lunch napkins, I don’t have to go looking for relationships. They find me.

In our plastic, competitive world, women are desperately seeking authenticity in their relationships.

So I wonder about us…

Could we be friends?

Could we mutually agree to set aside pretense to grow a relationship with less tension?

Let’s meander down the road of adult friendship together.

I’ll be real and tell you I’ve still never visited Paris, besides their airport for a layover and you can tell me about the time you laughed until milk squirted out your nose. Authenticity will build a beautiful, tensionless friendship.

Photo courtesy of Xx.Broken_Girl17.xX

AboutShannon Milholland

Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.  She is the author of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. She finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life. She presents the gift of prayer in her free 30 day prayer guide PrePrayed: Preparing for Life’s Events. She is a frequently published author. Most recently, she was a contributing author to Always There: Reflections for Moms on God's Presence.  As a speaker, Shannon is straight forward about her own struggles. She is a compassionate advocate fighting for victory in the life of her audience with a message of hope and encouragement.  When not writing or speaking, she enjoys her favorite job of wife to Scott and mom to four daughters from preschool to high school.
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Comments

  1. I was not this girl in my teens. But, I became her in my twenties. Chronic illness isolated me. I lost friends because I couldn’t be who they knew I once was- fun, care-free, and hopeful. Instead I was sick. And many of them didn’t want to wait around and miss out on their fun to hold my hand through the darkness.

    I am your friend dear Shannon- even through cyberspace. :)

    Great post my friend.

    Jessie K.

    1. Jessica, without a doubt finding a true friend who will mourn and rejoice with us is difficult. I am thankful for your authenticity and thankful for your friendship.

  2. Heidi says:

    I’m finding through ministry that it is the “realness” that attracts friends… the “I relate to you” feelings bring us together and often that’s not the pretty stuff! I just adore you Shannon, I’m so grateful for our bloggy friendship and I just know if it were possible we’d be great friends physically too :) thanks for this wonderful reminder to just be authentic. Great post!

    1. So true – “The ‘I relate to you’ feelings bring us together”. I love being messy with you and walking an authentic path that leads us closer to the heart of God.

  3. Heather says:

    Awesome message we can all take into our lives whether be friends or even family. Just not saying what is on your mind sometimes can be as bad as being ourright dishonest.

  4. Heather, this is so insightful. Non-disclosure is absolute deceit. How it honors God when we’re real even about the stuff we’d rather hide.

  5. Leah Mickschl says:

    Shannon, I loved, loved, loved this post! You NAILED it! I think for women in particular, we can get so caught up in wanting to fit in, when we were ALL created in God’s image. For His glory! And to think how we are betraying Him when we try to be something we’re not! Gross! LOVE your authencity. THAT is Keeping it Personal, my friend!

    1. Leah, so true “we can get so caught up in wanting to fit in”. I look at my four daughters and see them waging this long fought battle. So thankful we can turn God and stop fighting and instead engage in true friendship with other women.

  6. martha brady says:

    shannon, i can so identify with that feeling of not fitting it! i was never clever enough to think of such an outlandish lie! wow! i’ll bet that was a stressful one to maintain.

    you definitely learned a wise lesson…it lessens the stress in your life to be real. i’ve also learned it the hard way as well:)

    1. Martha, oh my the things I’ve learned the hard way. The good news is God keeps teaching me!

  7. Eileen says:

    Excellent topic, Shannon. “…pretense and dishonesty doesn’t garner lasting relationships.” It’s too bad we often have to learn this the long and painful way. But it’s so true. Authenticity is the road I want to stay on. There is so much freedom there!

    1. I think I might be queen of the long and painful way but agree there is much freedom on the authentic road.

  8. shelbi says:

    this post touched me. i could have written every single word. i am still planning my move to paris. and i too have moved about 17 times in 44 years. always the new girl, i have learned to find peace in solitude and appreciate the women friendships in my life that are real and honest.

    great post. i love you authentic courage. xo

    1. Shelbi, we are soul sisters traveling together hand in hand. So thankful to hold your hand on the journey.

  9. Ali Dent says:

    Oh Shannon,
    You’re awesome! Living authentically took on a new meaning for me last year. Now I’m learning how to live it out as real as I can. It’s hard. I’m tempted all the time to wear the mask but there’s no relationship in that. I’m working on a post right now (idea is still mulling in my heart) about our need for community and how community shows others who Christ really is. If we’re not authentic, the world misses his presence.
    Thanks for sharing so vividly and honestly.

    1. Ali, love this “If we’re not authentic, the world misses His presence.” That is profound, sister, and oh so true. Authenticity is the key to being salt and light in this world.

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