"Why are there dots?" TJ asked, with his nose scrunched and voice pitched whiny.
"What are you talking about?" I walked over, gulping my bite of banana. "All food has dots. Dots are normal. Just eat it."
By afternoon, my four year old son has splattered Legos and thrown books on their backs to construct a pain-inducing, slippery land mine. That's when I plop on the floor and wave the white flag. Snack time.
Instead of eating, I meet resistance.
Every day, TJ and I have the same conversation. Marks, black-stuff, something-yucky, I-don't-want-to-eat-that. TJ whips out his invisible super-microscope to whatever I put in front of him and can always find something wrong with it.
My explanations for food blemishes ring hollow to my little spiky-haired boy. Until one day, God has mercy on me. I come up with the answer.
"TJ, let me tell you something. Everything that is real has dots. If you find something that looks perfect, it's fake."
"Like pretend food, right?… They're plastic!" TJ concluded.
Safety In Hiding
I never thought there could be anything wrong with always being happy, nice and sunny. Whenever I encountered something hurtful, I'd brush myself off and kept pushing forward. I thought that trusting God meant being positive and never voicing my negative feelings.
As a result, I got really good at hiding my worries and struggles from everyone around me. Who wants to hear about troubles anyways? It was safer to be there for others, rather than revealing my feelings of fear, anger or despair.
I was just like TJ, resistant to the reality of dots.
Everything looked good on the outside. Inside, I was struggling with loneliness.
I probably could have gone on living this dual life indefinitely. Until God allowed a series of disappointments to enter and stay until they broke me. I could no longer hide.
It happened when I was single in my twenties. I came across a very difficult situation in my family. I had been praying for years for God to untangle deep-rooted problems that seemed to get worse, not better.
In my case, I was struggling with dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships with my single mother and younger sister. To make matters worse, I was overwhelmed with financial burdens, that resulted from the dysfunction.
Why wasn't He fixing anything?
The Whole Story
One night, as I was driving home feeling stressed and trapped in my predicament, everything inside me gave way. Heavy sheets of rain were pelting on my windshield, as I pulled over to the side of the road — and sobbed. Messy crying. With my head down against the steering wheel, I creaked out a prayer.
I'm so lonely.
Although I knew Jesus loved me, I needed a warm body to hear me.
The next day, I called a trusted confidante.
For the first time, I told my story. The whole story.
I showed her my dots, the blemishes. The yucky stuff.
Instead of shrinking away in disgust and shock as I fully expected, this friend opened her arms to me and listened. When I looked in her eyes, I only found care and understanding.
I became real.
From there, I found strength to heal and courage to face my problems squarely.
Tell Your Story
I don't know what you may be going through right now. If you happen to be like me, uncomfortable with dots — smudges, spots and stains in your life — I want to encourage you to be real with someone.
Pray about who that safe someone might be and take a dare.
Tell her your story. Let her feel your scars and see your marks.
Maybe you're like me, growing up as child, without someone safe to love you when you felt weak and accept you when things went wrong. It could be that you're wondering why God isn't fixing things and making it all better.
The good news is that God hasn't forgot about you or your problems.
He is focused on your heart and letting you know that you are loved. He wants you to be real.
God may want you to start with a real person, so that He can comfort you in the skin of another. That's how it had to happen for me.
He loves us deeply. Dots and all. Flesh and blood, He made us.
I still find it difficult to share my needs, but I push myself to keep trying. I am learning there is freedom in being loved, by God and the friends who truly know and accept me. That was one blessing I didn't expect, coming out of hiding.
After all, plastic people aren't real… TJ can tell you that.
How is God calling you to become more real?
We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face
to keep the Israelites from gazing at it
while the radiance was fading away.
But, whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."
2 Cor. 3:12-18
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Thank you so much for this beautiful and inspiring, hopeful post.
So true. Everything has dots. Trying to pretend we don’t is e-x-h-a-u-s-t-i-n-g work.
Your tip to pray for a person to tell is so right. It won’t be wasted. Over and over, in all kinds of situations, God has given me a person. It’s amazing to watch. And sometimes it’s someone right there in front of us that we had overlooked. Not always, but sometimes.
I have been wondering about who to talk to when I feel that way. Stupid me, it never occurred to me to pray for that person. Thank you so much for the suggestion!
So true…great post! Thanks for the cross give away too. 🙂
Clara Ordonez says
How lucky we are that God looks on the inside and doesn’t care about all our “spots”!
Encouraging and beautiful. Thank You.
Beverly @ The Buzz says
Excellent post. Thank you.
I love this story…thank you so much for sharing.
There is a time you must allow someone to help you carry your cross. Christ did.
I do beleive the Father puts people in our lives
when we need them. We must be attune to that possibility.
Barbara Collins says
What a great story and just what I needed to hear. My daughter had a similar “bug” when she was little…….the line at the end of her socks bugged. It was this constant battle to get her to wear socks. So one day the Lord said, “cut the toe out”. So I did end of story. After a while she grew out of the bug, and I could keep the socks whole from that point forward.
Thanks for sharing.
Wonderful post! You said: “I thought that trusting God meant being positive and never voicing my negative feelings.” I have felt a similar way in the past as well. But I’ve learned that we need to be real with God…for our benefit. Scripture says in Psalm 62:8 “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge…” (NIV) We can trust God with everything, including our junk. We can pour out all that stuff to God. He is a safe refuge for us.
Thanks for the challenge to be real – not only with God, but also others.
This post brought tears to my eyes because I can relate so much. I had a friend who made me real too. Such a powerful thing.
I struggled for years with the same tendency to just keep moving on and make everything look as good as possible. While friends and loved ones knew pieces of my painful past, they didn’t know how much it still affected me. This was mostly because I hid it so well- from others AND from myself. But when the time came that God started to bring the painful stuff to the surface to heal me, I had never felt more alone in all my life. Until that point people had praised me for my “strength” and my ability to “cope” with the hardships I faced. So when I started to see how weak and damaged I really was, I believed a lie for so long that left me in isolation and deep depression. I believed that those who loved me wouldn’t love me anymore if they knew the real me, the real struggles within.
It was not until I was able to start sharing that I started to experience real healing. For years I struggled alone. I felt God’s presence, and He was faithful to give peace and reveal much. But it wasn’t until I started confessing that His healing was complete.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Thanks again for this important reminder.
sharing my story @ http://www.misstea-to-be.blogspot.com
That’s a good question because I prefer to hide my real self to most. Trust isn’t something I do well. In a writing class I’m taking, I’m asked to write about different parts of my life. This is scary. I’m ready to bail at any moment. Maybe this is where God asks me to be more real because no one seems to reject me when I read my stories. I still feel ‘not really accepted’ anywhere except with God. Others love me I am sure of that, but I only feel totally safe with God. In Him, I find safe pastures to grow. Only He has the capacity to love me totally. Being real? I’m working on that. My motto recently has been ‘be yourself and take the consequences.’ That’s not always easy, but I know if I’m wounded just being myself, I have the solace of my prayer place to go and be healed again.
Great post…thank you for sharing and thank you for the giveaway. The cross would look wonderful amongst my collage of crosses I am in the process of putting on one of my walls.
~Amy in WI
Gladwell Musau says
Thank you for sharing. I was once there too. Isn’t it relieving to know that we are not alone in our dotted lives?
Carol Tidd says
This was great – exactly on track with my life right now. I’m asking for God to connect the ‘dots’ and guide me going forward.
-Carol in Sin City
Oh so good! Why is it we try to fake it and pretend to have it all together? That drives me insane. Thanks so much for this post!!
Just the blog I needed to read today.
Thanks for this encouragement! Being real and vulnerable is one of the two biggest lessons I’ve learned in the past few years. Having those “safe” people really is important, and in turn you then learn to listen and accept people and be their safe place as well. I’m so thankful for the people in my life that want me to be real with them. I’ve found that being real, in the good times and the bad times, is life-giving for both the teller and the listener.
Your dots metaphor reminded me of the book “You are Special” by Max Lucado. Goodness it is a wonderful book. It involves dots as well, but a little differently, but it also has the message of being accepted for who you really are. Thanks again!
Bev McDougal says
In an unrealistic struggle to be perfect and acceptable, I, too, forget I’m perfect and acceptable to God. Thanks for the reminder. And thanks for the encouragement to allow myself to be imperfect and acceptable and real. So much like the Velveteen Rabbit. Thank you
Beautiful post – thanks for sharing. It’s so much better to be “real” with people so that they know it’s okay for them to be “real” too. We are not perfect, but by the grace of God – He is working in and through us!
Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
Thanks for sharing Bonnie. After having read this I thanked God again for providing someone a very short time ago that I could ‘be real’ with. He knew that was exactly what I needed at that moment in time to heal and to move forward instead of living in the past. Let someone see the spots on my banana. 🙂
Thanks again for sharing!
Twinkle Mom @ Sunflower Faith says
Wow! I needed this. I really needed this and needed to hear this. I’ve had experience on both sides of the road.
On one hand, I took the risk to be ‘real’ and when I did, I ended up getting hurt and treated pretty badly that made me feel hurt and rejected because it’s like they prefer the fakeness and the illusion of perfect versus the reality that I’m a human being whom wasn’t perfect and made mistakes and had emotions.
On the other hand, I took the same risk (keep trying, have faith,lol) and met someone who knew and saw the real me and treated me with love, compassion, encouragement and help me keep challenged to keep growing and to be as authentic I could be while counseling that some people are only here for a season and some people are also not who they say they really are but a reminder that there is only one person we can truly trust, our Heavenly Father, dear Abba, who loves us unconditionally no matter what we carry, He wants to lift it from us, not add to it.
It’s always a scary process though but at the same time, a reminder that we need to give reason to the hope we have in Christ and remember, it’s not about us, it’s about Him and if others choose to see us, not Him, that’s not our burden but to give it to Him and pray for them as hard as it may be, as difficult, and sometimes, yes, painful too.
Thanks so much for your post! I’m so happy to have found your blog. Thank you for sharing part of you with us. 😀
What a powerful post Bonnie! So many don’t want to or don’t know how to be authentic….many relationaships are broken for that very reason and it is sooo very sad…. Even if we aren’t real to others we need to know that the Lord knows everything, absolutely everything and loves us in spite of ourselves!
Thank you for reminding us all to “keep it real” and that there is no shame in being exactly who you are. God knows every flaw, thought, and emotion already….how awesome it feels to bring it all out in the open and live it!
My oldest, 6 yrs old, does the same thing with food. Lately he’s been trying to distinguish between cartoons, claymation and live action. He told me he knew if there were lines around it, it was fake. He also tends to be a perfectionist so it will be helpful to let him know that everything “has dots”, especially mom!
I’m not very good at being “Real”. I tend to want to hide my cracks and broken pieces. I try not to hide behind a mask > I will let you know I’m not perfect, but I don’t want to go beyond the fact. I tend to want to struggle alone….Good stuff!
Jennifer Morrison says
This is a beautiful story… I was touched with tears brimming at my eyes… thank you for sharing.
I would also love to be entered in the giveway for the cross. Thank you for including me. 🙂
Kristine McGuire says
A brilliant article, Bonnie. Thank you for being willing to share a difficult moment in your life and encouraging us all to be “real”.
Being made Real
From the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
A conversation between Rabbit and the Skin Horse-
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long , long time, not just to play with , but really loves you, then you become Real.” “Does it hurt?” “Sometimes.” For he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” “Does it happen all at once, like being wound up, or bit by bit?” “It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break to easily, or who have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”…. The rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.
this is parenting to me. this is real, being covered in dots.
Great reminder. I created a habit of telling to my children that I’m not perfect but that I love them dearly. I think is important to be real.
Melissa Brotherton says
Why is it easier to share our dots online as opposed to IRL? I feel freer to express those hurts, struggles, and spotty areas in my blog and in comments on other people’s blogs than I do with my friends and family. Thanks for this reminder to be real and not plastic, something I especially needed to hear living in the OC. Haha!
Very nice post and a give away too…how wonderful of you!
It is a blessing when I come across posts that remind me that I am not the only one who is struggling with my “dots”. It gives me hope and keeps me heading in the right direction. Thank you.
Lovely reminder and now when I see a banana I’m going to think of this reminder to be real!! For me, God was asking me to be real today in remembering that even though I’m not in Africa right now, that it doesn’t mean I have to let adjusting to culture here take away who I am now because of who I became there…if that jumble of words makes sense! 🙂
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Oh, Bonnie. This is my favorite post of yours (although I’m certain this isn’t the last time I’ll tell you this!)
As much as I love sharing with my sweet, safe friends, I still sometimes feel it is easier to listen and encourage them than to divulge my realness marks, scars and all. For me it’s a pride thing that the Lord is still hammering away on in me! Your perspective on this is so refreshing, true and REAL. Thank you sweet girl!
Monica Snyder says
This is a beautiful reminder to be vunerable with one another. I especially love those verses at the end!
this is EXACTLY how i feel. i grew up in a double life. daytime around wealthy seemingly perfect people at night an abusive domestically abused charged existance. I could never just relax, i couldn’t be real, because everyone was lying putting on airs to act as if nothing was wrong. I had to be perfect and now, i am like the woman with painted on face. Things are not alright and it’s like saying that is worse than telling the truth. I’ve always feel like to share what I was really feeling would let people know I don’t have it all together and there are times i am lonely and angry and even sinful, but being honest is entirely too risky and i never have the luxury of being angry or upset because i am a christian. It is like being in prison. I hate it, for real. So please pray for me regarding this, i never had a safe please to share and talk about my feelings. thanks
Larry Who says
Bang! Right between my eyes! Your article has gunned me down. Now, to do something with the revelation I have.
Carol H. says
What a day for me to read this, as my “dots” bubbled to the surface just this morning. Thankfully there were friends there to reach out and hug.
Reminds me of the verse that says God is interested in all the details [the dots!] of our lives.
Wonderful story! I am so thankful I have these friends I can show the ‘yucky’ side to and they still love me! They are “God chosen” just for me!
I so feel ‘incouraged’ when I come here! TY!
I love what Carol said about God connecting the dots! That is what I need to do, I need to move out of the way and allow Him to connect my dots so I can move in the steps He orchestrates for me. I love the idea about praying for someone to come into my life directed by God and allowing the realness to come out. Thanks and be blessed!
I will never look at a banana the same way again lol.This cute story opened my eyes.Thanks!
Many, many women struggle with this, and I thank God for sending 2 wonderful people into my life to help me become real. Only God is Perfect bu His grace covers all!!!
Tina Riley says
it is very hard to be real for me, so i appreciate this encouragement.
I can so relate. Loved this post.
I love the idea that everything real has spots. Thank you for a great message and congrats on your 100th posting!
it is true. God desires that we be real even when we respond to mundane ‘how are you’s’?’
im on a similar journey – facing reality and the real me.
i used to be predictably cheerful, never-say-die spirit. nothing new.
but as i allow the masks to drop, i find in my friends a freedom to be me and i find in God a freedom to just be…
Black dots aint yucky
If there were no Black dots, i would not need Christ 🙂
Christy Davis says
I love how God leads us to what we need. I have never read your blog but needed it so much this morning. I need the reminders to tell my whole story. It makes me feel better. Thank you for being my messenger.
very nice post! thanks for sharing!
Heather S. says
Oh . . . what a touching story! Thanks for the chance to win the beautiful cross.
What a phenomenal and inspiring story!! You are a truly gifted writer 😉
I am covered in dots, but I know that I am loved more deeply and truly than I can possibly imagine by our God who sent his only Son to us and for us! I pray that all those with dots (and that would be all of us!)find Jesus and know that they are loved with all of their beautiful dots…God Bless~
WONDERFUL post! Thank you! And thank you for the giveaway!
I love this. Why is being real so hard for women? Why do we doubt ourselves so heavily that we build a fort around us that no one can scale? Thanks for the challenge!
Thanks so much for your (in)couragement. Love your site, and I’m so glad to have found it.
Loved the blueprint article. It’s almost as if my niece was writing it as she is facing breast cancer and chemo. In want to send this to her. Thank you.
I NEED prayer!!!!!!!
Phyllis Reid says
This is wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing.
Heather Sunseri says
What a beautiful and inspiring post, Bonnie! Not only do I pray for that person I can be real with, but I pray that others know that they can be real with me. It’s an amazing feeling to realize that we are not alone and sometimes we need that angel that God puts in our path to listen. And sometimes we are blessed to be the angel.
Great post. Many of us feel pressure to appear to be something we are not — perfect. It’s good to be reminded that Jesus loves us just as we are and that others will love us in spite of.
Melinda Lancaster says
Thank you for yet another confirmation regarding a present need that has grown to be a mountain in size. I had a friend who lovingly knew how to draw the truth out of me but she has gone on to heaven.
I’m totally at a loss about what to do next but know I need to do something & open up to someone. I pray God will send help.
I hate fake…especially in myself.
Awesome post as always!
Balm to a freckled gal’s soul
Rhona Lutton says
I loved your analogy. I concur with what you shared. Thank you for your courage.
Such an amazing post! I really needed to hear this. Funny how God works isn’t it?
Thank you so much! I needed to read these words tonight.
A brave and beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thanks for sharing, and being real! Jackie