What is this I see, are those tears?
You can’t cry and smile pick one or the other."
Pk’s carry the unfortunate burden of poster child for every church member. We are forced to be perfect even though we are not. We are humans who struggle with our faith, we are humans who have felt betrayed, we are humans who question if God really hates us, and more important we are humans with real emotions.
I have realized that as a result of my father’s profession it has forced me to become something I never intended to be, a front. My mother always told me to be strong in the face of all the members and never reveal yourself to them because you can’t trust them. But I was challenged internally tonight at youth group; these two sisters shared their story of surviving sexual and physical abuse by their father; another woman shared how she used to cut herself because she was in an abusive relationship and felt suicide was her only out. All I kept hearing was portions of my story. Of course I was asked to give encouragement and maybe some insight and I imagined that I would say something like “I have gone through the same ordeal and I don’t know how to speak to your situations but here is how I am dealing with things…” but of course I had my perfect response of hope and comfort prepared. I just kept thinking in the back of my head what my mother has been telling me for years “just smile and tell them you will pray for them”
No one wants to hear that after sharing something so deep. But my response was automatic. I am filled with guilt for how I have kept this front of perfection to my friends and family at church. It broke my heart when my friend told me that I can’t relate to anyone because I have never experienced real pain. I wasn’t upset and I don’t blame her for thinking that. I would think the same about myself.
I can’t help the automatic response and the immediate smile that comes when I know inside I am falling apart. I can’t help but say “I’m fine, everything is great, life is amazing, I am blessed, I feel joyful” when I am asked how I am doing. I was never taught to be honest about things like that. I feel like my world is falling before me and I am losing control of my perfect smile. Anxiety is swollen in my heart like an overfilled balloon and the only thing I have to show for is the perfect smile that I have been taught to show even when everything is not okay. So I will just keep smiling because I don’t know what other choice I have.