Monday, April 7, 2008

MMSM: Keeping Up Appearances

Check out my friend Shannon's blog carnival. This week she chose a movie quote from Some Kind of Wonderful to inspire us.

Keith: You can’t judge a book by its cover.
Watts: No, but you can tell how much it's gonna cost.
Keith: Wow, I never knew you were so deep.
Watts: You want shallow, call Amanda Jones.
If you remember, Amanda Jones was part of the rich, popular crowd, but really came from the same part of town as Keith and Watts. She was willing to beg, borrow, or steal (or sleep with someone) to stay part of this crowd. Sometimes I wonder what we are willing to do to keep up appearances.

Last week for MMSM I wrote about perspective and comparing yourself to others. Another reason not to compare your life to another's is because appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes I read all these blogs about wonderful women with wonderful families and wonderful lives. And then I realize that while all I read could be true, it could just as easily be false, or at least not representative of the whole story. If I compare myself to some bloggers out there I will always come out on the losing end. But I don't really know those people, and they could have many challenges that they choose not to write about. And IRL (in real life) you don't always know people as well as you think either. Those perfect families you see at church aren't always perfect. And even in a friend or couple that you know well - what are they hiding to keep up the appearance of everything being okay?

Some people and families are very honest and unpretentious (see Shannon's post) and wouldn't dream of putting forth an appearance that is misleading. But for most people, the natural man leads us to care about what others think of us (more than what God thinks of us). And we are willing to beg, steal, borrow, or lie to create or maintain that image we want. Some live beyond their means, racking up debt in order to live and portray a certain lifestle. Some ignore problems in their marriages or with their children to avoid judgement from others. At the very least, almost all of us are willing to keep quiet about certain unflattering personality traits. Not everyone needs to know that my laziness keeps my house in a perpetually dirty state.

Keeping up appearances isn't always bad. I'm happy to see a friend looking her best by keeping up her highlights, eyebrow plucking, shaving, and self-tanning. But I need to make sure people know the real me enough to love me for who I am. That's where Amanda Jones went wrong, she changed herself too much to be accepted for who she was (except by Keith). And she allowed herself to be blinded by the appearance of the popular crowd - she couldn't see them for the shallow, manipulative people they really were.

See, good lessons can be found in all manner of movies. What are you willing to do to keep up appearances and maintain your image?


fullheartandhands mama said...

This got me thinking about how hard I try to keep up my house. I run around in circles trying to keep everything in its place. But, at what expense? Usually time with my husband and children. Plus it typically creates tension in my house.
Great post to get me thinking and praying.

We are THAT Family said...

That's good food for the soul. I have an obsession with neatness, when people are around, it peaks. I fight it.

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

I really enjoyed your post -- and the comment by fullheartsandhands mama.

Karen and I made strawberry-rhubarb pies during the last session of conference (they were AWESOME), and at one point I had to yell (at) for Dick to go take care of Spot outside. I said, "Hey, Martha here needs some help," because I am funny and felt like Martha from the Mary/Martha story in the NT.

This also goes back to what I was thinking a while ago about the difference between what I like to do and what makes me feel good. And then there's a need for balance -- to fight the frump when we can but also to spend our time on the big priorities (which I am learning is not supposed to be blogging).

Shannon at RIMD had a good post about how blogs offer just a slice of the life of the writer. So we shouldn't feel bad in comparison. BUT, I just looked at her blog trying to find that post (unsuccessfully: How can she not have a search box?) and she has 1782 subscribers, so I don't even have to read a single post to feel inadequate!

Marie said...

Not a whole lot, to be honest. What you see is what you get. I used to care more, but all those layers of appearances rubbed away when I became a mother.

Candice & Stephen Bairn said...

I really enjoyed reading your post and it made me think about what appearances do I try to put on. I have to admit that I let a lot of them go when I left the single life and got married. Those things just don't matter anymore like I thought they did. And now that I"m a mom I find myself not being as judgemental of others, especially other moms. I know how hard it is and I know what goes into being a mom and giving up so many things for yourself. But the sacrifice is so worth it. But don't think that I don't have appearances that try to cover things up. I think that it's almost innate for everyone to do least a little bit. As for the clean house and clean kitchen, I gave that up a long time ago and I don't even appologize or feel bad about it. I've come to accept it.