I followed this blonde woman on Instagram. Her life seemed like an unending vacation: bikini pictures with beautiful friends on white sand beaches, cocktail parties on high rises with cityscapes in the background, jungle hikes to secret waterfalls. I thought she was a local celebrity of sorts, popular and adventurous. I thought maybe I’d meet her someday. Actually, I did.
At work I was called in to the Emergency Room to help a patient without any insurance. I found her lying on a bed, high on drugs. I asked her the necessary questions for the paperwork. “I’m broke,”she said. I couldn’t believe it was her. In her social media profile she was so put together, so perfect. I didn’t imagine this scene in her life would make it onto Instagram.
How do we navigate the complexities and nuances of ourselves? How do we share our lives full of mistakes and sins? It’s not only that we like to broadcast the best story of our selves. It’s that we’re unable to reconcile how to tell the actual story of our life with cultural expectations. So we don’t tell those stories. The truth, we think, is too much. We create unrealities, fictions, because telling stories, the full story, the real story, the ugly story, is too damn hard.
In the Gospel of Mark, when an unclean woman tries to sneak in through the crowd and get healed, Jesus turns around and calls her out. “Who touched me?”The woman, now healed through the power of Jesus, could have snuck off into the crowd, could have hemmed and hawed, said it was an accident. She could have continued her new, healed life without the crowd knowing who she really was or what she had done, what kind of uncleanliness had defined her for so long. But she doesn’t hide her story, her shame, her struggle, her embarrassment. And Jesus, as he’s wont to do, redeems her.
There are tools at our disposal that allow us to tell the real story. Specifically Scripture informing the Christian imagination, and the miraculous work of Christ giving new hope and new life. It’s not Instagram filters or Snapchat stories, but a language and an opportunity to spread the joy of redemption. There is hope in our truth, the truth we can bring to Jesus. That’s a story worth sharing.