Let’s Sew on The Scarlet Letter!

scarlet-letter_journal
Friends, we walk through our lives often troubled and distressed. I know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes, when I am feeling this way, I imagine all of you out there feeling the exact same way. And I think, “Everyone probably feels they are alone in this, that everyone else has it together, that people’s happy postings on Facebook prove that they smile all the time, get along with their family members, have cute pets and always cook great meals for their families. All while they sit there in their car thinking what a failure or mess they turned out to be.” And I shake my head.
 
1313897240072_6858395-300x210Could it be that people create a fake version of themselves on social media? That, despite all the pain they feel inside, they paste happiness all over their pages and speak unbelievable love about their husbands, children and home lives? I’m beginning to believe this is true.  And it makes me so sad- and even a little mad.
 
I want to ask them, “Why do you do this? Don’t you realize how much you hurt others with these little white lies? In the effort to make yourself feel better with these posts, you harm others who are suffering.  What are you trying to prove?  Why not just be honest and connect with us in a real, human way?”   I think these people are very selfish. It’s wrong. There is never anything good or redemptive in a lie.
 
I’m sure these people don’t see what they do as a lie. They are just trying to be ‘upbeat’ and ‘positive’ with their page. They might feel that they are ‘adding to the world’ with their postings. But if they don’t come from the truth from within, they are still lies.  And lies come from satan, whose goal in life is to rend the human soul into a million bits of misery.  Social media is his perfect instrument with which to accomplish his mission.
 
colonyHow many of you read the ‘Scarlet Letter’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne? That novel has impacted my look at the American character forever.  In an early American colony, a pregnant adulteress, Hester, is forced to wear a large, red letter ‘A’ to shame her forever while the father, the town pastor, remains anonymous and unpunished by society.   A major theme of the book is that Americans hide their true feelings behind a facade out of fear of rejection from their neighbors.

When we first came to this nation as puritans, the facade was morality. Everyone pretended to be perfectly moral. They did this because they were afraid of being kicked out of the the colony and forced out into the true wilderness of the time and worse, having to face the wild eyed, unknown, Native American. They felt their lives depended on this facade. I think that Hawthorne felt Americans never lost this fear and resulting protective facade- only that the facade of morality became the facade of ‘success and happiness’. He felt it was quintessentially American. No other nation was ‘born’ the way America was, this planting of ‘civilization among the wilderness’. His point: we are still in the colony, pretending to our neighbors to be better than we are for fear of being rejected. None of us want to be cast out and live in the wilderness, alone and terrified. Even if the wilderness no longer exists.

 
I’ve watched American society closely since I studied that book in college. And the more I watch, the more I come into agreement with Hawthorne. We do put up a facade. And it is a killer. Not only does it isolate and trap those who erect it, but it isolates and traps everyone else who then feels they must also erect theirs in order to compete. It is a sad, sad little bubble society- only now, it is carried out in skyscrapers and suburbs.

dimmesdaleIn the book, Hester, who was initially forced to wear the scarlet ‘A’ for shame, learned that she was far freer than the others who had to continually maintain their facade of moral perfection.  She learned that they lived in constant terror of detection.  Dimmesdale, the pastor and father of her child, demonstrated just how devastating this double life is.  He died a mysterious death and they found a bloody ‘A’ emblazoned on the naked skin of his chest.    He represented all the puritans.  Since all sinned and pretended moral purity, all were liars.  All were terrified of discovery and none were happy.  Hester, already discovered, had found a good peace in her life- people had gotten used to her confession of sin and had moved on in their relationship with her.  And now, she no longer needed to pretend perfection.  Such freedom!   Hawthorne showed us that truth really does set a person free while facades of perfection are the poisonous prisons of our own making.

 
chainsHow many people on social media wish they had Hester’s freedom? How many wish they could just admit their imperfections? That they are bored with their husbands, perhaps or fed up with their kids? That they  feel guilty for working or hate being a stay at home mother? How many can’t stand the in-laws or wish they could sell the endlessly hairy dog?  And God forbid, how many are tired of the stinking urine and feces of the cat litter box and want to get rid of Puffy?  How many people feel trapped by their lives?  How many wish things had turned out differently? How many struggle with their faith, don’t feel God and don’t love their neighbors?  How many resent their best friend’s wealth? How many are depressed, angry or lonely- but would never, ever say so because others might think less of them somehow?  Instead, they put up ever better images and statements about their lives to dispel such ugly thoughts!  And in so doing, lock their prison doors & torment all the others around them.
 
freedomFriends, take it from me.  It is far better to let others know you are imperfect.  That way, you can relax in your relationships.  You can let your hair down.  Those who love you will love you even more.  Those who don’t love you might learn to like you a little better.  And now, you can lean on us, your friends.  You can ask for prayers and can vent any time you want.  Sew on the scarlet letter, my friend.  It is not a shame- it is freedom.
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6 comments

  1. Another direct hit on the American dream — the inability to be real with one another because the whole boat will sink if we are. I am startled to find myself wondering how I got to this point in my life with so little to show for it and so much left to do. My physical problems through the years have been obvious to others but the depression which has plagued me since I was a toddler is rarely mentioned because it makes people uncomfortable even though I decided long ago that the only good that would come of it would be the example and assistance it provides for others. This is my letter A–feel free to ask me about it.

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    • Hi Fern, well, let me first say this- as a reader here and on Facebook, your constant contributions have been worthy. Very worthy. You don’t realize this, but thousands and thousands of people have read all your replies. What do you think of that? You have never feared commenting on my posts. Most people are too afraid to comment because they just feel… exposed, open to ridicule from others- and we all know how brutal anonymous people can be on social media, right? But here you are, like a hero, brandishing your ‘A’ for all the depressed people of the world, not only speaking, but showing your real face on your icon. Most people hide their face behind cartoons or images. Not you, my dear braveheart! Be encouraged, my love, because you are not nothing! Nor is your life nothing. It’s just like on that movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He doesn’t know the value of the life he has lived until he threw it away. You have impacted so many people’s lives- you don’t know how much. And how many have heard the Word because of your quite witness? Even ONE makes you a hero in heaven. What is one man’s soul worth, Fern? Jesus said that it is worth leaving all the others to search for it, and once found, a great banquet should be given to celebrate it being found! So, if we live our lives having just affected one- even if just our children, then we have lived worthy lives. And somehow, based on what I know of you, Fern, I know it is more than one.

      What is ‘value’ on earth is nothing in heaven and what is ‘value’ in heaven is nothing on earth. In heaven, the humbled will be held high and the high will be brought low. God said he will dry every tear. I find that to be so tender. All your tears will be dried and someday, the burden of depression will be lifted from your heart forever. I thank God all the time that life on earth is short. It’s TOUGH living, isn’t it?

      The only pragmatic thing I will add is this: make sure to tell your doctor about this depression. The medicines they have now are FANTASTIC for depression. There is NO honor in suffering. Just swallow a pill and it can help tremendously. Don’t let shame stop you- society doesn’t think of depression in the same way anymore. Heck, half of America is taking pills! lol. Anyway, please private message me anytime, sister. Merry Christmas- God loves you and so do I!

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  2. You are right in some respects, it is a disservice to post a “falsehood” on your face book page to keep people happy but at the same time keeping people happy may be your goal in life. I watched my parents stay together for “the children” versus happiness and swore that I wouldn’t do the same. But I get it now, staying “happy” together until my children are 18 and out of the house gives them a better chance at life. I’m not saying that it will guarantee anything but gives them a stable base. So I understand better what my mom had to say. Life isn’t as simple as wearing a scarlet letter seems (haven’t read it but I will now) we make sacrifices not only for the ones we love but the points in life we are in. Yes I could walk in and say what I feel to my hearts content but the support that someones needs during an illness would now be gone and maybe cause them to lose the fight versus “having something to fight for” winning the fight. Also looking at my mother and father and the rediscovering of the love that they once shared as a young married couple later in life when my mother got terminal, that would not have happened if they went their separate ways makes a person hesitate. I agree that communicating as they got older would have made it easier but my fathers up bringing made that almost an impossible act. Ultimately if you are posting your true feelings on Facebook and can’t say it to the other significant other in a face to face matter you are doomed to fail. Because no matter what you post on face book will not be received the way you want it to because over 60% of the communication is lost, they can’t see you. The Non-verbal (body language) you can’t put into a message. You might be laughing as you post a message but no one can see it when they read it and they might take it the exact opposite. Seen it too many times with emails. Ultimately agree you should say how you feel but same time understand when people don’t, feel for them as long as they are looking at the circumstance versus making an excuse.

    Please don’t post email, just name.

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    • Hi Newbie, no problem with you comment. I totally agree with every point you made! When I said to sew on the Scarlet Letter, I by no means meant to be irresponsible and seek glory and selfish happiness for yourself. I simply meant to stop acting like everything is fine and dandy to strangers when they aren’t. In other words, stop competing with the Jones’. For sure, one must sacrifice in this life in personal matters. I don’t believe in divorce at all. It is a lifetime commitment. I can’t tell you how helpful this mindset has been for my husband and me in our marriage. No matter how much we might hate each other in a moment, we KNOW we can’t go anywhere or ‘do’ anything about it. Believe it or not, just knowing that is the most helpful thought to making up! When you know you have to live with someone forever, you automatically want to get along. It’s an amazing thing! So, our marriage just gets stronger and stronger. Now, I know we will never part until one of us dies. I also know neither of us will cheat. Commitment and personal sacrifice are a necessity in life. I would never advocate verbal diarrhea either. Once you read the book, The Scarlet Letter, you will see what I mean. It’s about the hypocrisy people can have to their neighbors. That is what I advocate against. We should be real with one another. In this way, we don’t make others feel down because their lives aren’t perfect and we make ourselves available to others when they need some advice. They see that you’ve gone through something similar and they can come to you without fear of you looking down on you. This is what I meant. You sound like a young person with a lot of wisdom! I do hope you fully come to Jesus. Don’t allow worldly ‘wisdom’ fool you. It is being foolish for Christ that brings the most joy in this life!

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