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The not so shiny truth...

On social media, it's easy to create a certain image: put together, positive, social butterfly, balanced, successful, etc. But it's not always the truth. Sometimes reality can be a lot more beneficial for people to see than the illusion of unattainable perfection we create.

I seldom put up pictures of myself, because I don't usually feel confident enough to do so. I usually feel like a mess--overweight, pancake-thin hair, a pasty complexion. I don't know what everyone else sees, but that's what I usually see. Every day is a battle to love this woman God made. Some battles I win, some battles I don't. But I've come a long way from the woman who hated herself so much that she refused to look in mirrors.

I do my best to maintain a positive image online, because the last thing I ever want to do is bring anyone else down. But in truth, I'm often saddened and disappointed by things going on in the world, and sometimes it just overwhelms me. In those times, I try to look away from the world and fix my eyes on Jesus.

I can pretend to be a social butterfly online, but in person, that couldn't be further from the truth. Not only am I an introvert, but I'm occasionally socially awkward, and I have an allergy to small talk. Making friends has always been difficult for me, and I struggle with allowing people to truly know me.

I'm not exactly a balanced person either. I get fixated on things, and once I start those things, I need to finish them. I do not like last minute plans or changes to plans... I'm not that flexible. I'm also a recovering perfectionist, but my perfectionist standards only apply to me, not to other people.

I'm grateful for how my writing career has grown, and how loved my books have become, but I haven't always been successful. I think most people who reach a point of success have gone through some deep valleys, and pointing out the mountains without acknowledging the valleys you have to pass through to get there can be misleading. When I graduated from college, I had a degree in psychology, yet no one wanted to hire me. After filling out a tree's-worth of applications, I finally found a job as a waitress. It didn't pay nearly enough. I applied for a different job, a job in sales, and they almost didn't hire me because they said I was "too nice." That should've told me something right there...

I took the job, but I was still barely scraping by. After rent and bills, I had $50 for necessities and food each month. I was living on old cereal, outdated canned vegetables, and pancake mix. When my application for foods stamps was finally approved, I was so happy that I was going to be able to eat other things. I needed that small blessing, and God gave it to me.

I continued walking to and from a job I despised, put up with sexual harassment from my boss because I desperately needed my job, and then walked home, curled up in bed, and continued writing the book I had started several years before. The book no one knew about. My married boss grew increasingly more aggressive at work, berating me for not meeting his impossible standards, no doubt because I rebuffed his advances, and then on an emotional whim, he left me a voicemail that said, "You're fired and you know why."

I ended up jobless for two months, and no one seemed interested in my applications yet again. That was probably the most unsuccessful, frightening period of my adult life. But that job I lost was also where I met my amazing husband. The husband who learned about the secret book I was writing and encouraged me to continue writing. I never expected anything to come of it. I had no formal training in writing. I had never even read a book on writing. But a few years later, along came "Criss Cross," which my husband encouraged me to share with the world.

I look back at those frightening and uncertain times and see God at work. Even when so much seemed to be going wrong, He had a plan. It amazes me.

I think it's important for people to be real, to be more than those perfect pictures and posts on social media.

Let's be real.

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