Keeping it real

Would you like to see the weedy patches in my garden? I thought not.

There is a new trend on social media to display our less-than-perfect living spaces and gardens. This concept and practice evolved from a backlash against the depressing notion that we cannot attain to the perfection of our neighbors’ lives, as portrayed by only showing the good and not the bad.

This trend has also morphed into an ugly fad of “keeping it real” by picking apart and pointing out flaws in people. It has become popular to pick out the flaws in formerly respected historical figures, national leaders, and even our church leaders.

People aren’t perfect? What a surprise!

Do you want to know a not-very-well-kept secret? My garden isn’t perfect. My house is even less so, since most of my time is spent outside! While this is obvious to any casual observer, it is more painfully obvious to me, as the gardener. Any time we have garden visitors (which is actually quite often), the glaring messes and horticultural mistakes seem to jump out at me.

The photos that I share in this column and elsewhere online are the best of the best. Even when an entire area is shown, it is almost always when that bed has been recently cleaned up. Yes, there is often some “staging” that takes place as a spent bloom is removed or the camera phone moved to avoid an unsightly background.

My friends have shared some photos online where their gardens are messy or their living rooms are scattered with toys and mounds of laundry. The sad thing is, I would have to clean up the worst places in my house or garden quite a bit to look as good as their “bad” pictures!

The theme for doing this is to “keep it real” for their friends. No one really has the idyllic life where the flowers are perfect, the children are always smiling, the stack of books looks ever so artistic, and the kitchen is devoid of anything but attractive, delicious looking food. Sharing the unstaged “reality” is meant as an encouragement to others.

This “reality” will always be with us. We will never — nor should we — be happy with the way things really are. Even in spiritual things, we are “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:13b, 14, NASB).

You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Those eggshells go into the bin on the counter waiting to be put into the compost. (That clutters up my counter.) The compost pile in the garden looks pretty awful, especially before it gets turned. (That clutters up my garden.) The trowel used to move the finished compost has to be put somewhere while I move the baby Rudbeckia growing too close to the daylily I’m fertilizing. (That clutters up the yard furniture.) But the omelette was pretty good!

Even without a propensity to be distracted easily, you can see how there is a lot of “reality” happening all day, every day.

But with you, gentle readers, I share the good. I will give you the pretty blooms after I pull out that wild lettuce in the background. You have your own “reality” all day, every day, no doubt. You don’t need mine, too.

Most of us are wise enough to know that there may be some “behind the scenes” messes in one another’s homes, gardens, and lives.

We know what’s “real.” Now let’s keep it positive and uplifting!

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Christine (Tina) Berglund

Christine lives in middle Tennessee with her husband Gary, a.k.a. "The Yard Boy." They have served churches in eight states where Gary has preached full-time most of their married lives. The children have flown the nest, but they "baby" their plants now, and even get to visit grandchildren once in a while.

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