Someone told me the other day that they liked the fact that I was so "real." I pondered upon the significance of that. Is it a good thing that I am "real" or does it mean I am a carnal, fleshly Christian? Afterall, being real means that you are exposing your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. You are transparent, and don't try to hide things that might expose who you really are.
We all put on masks, so to speak.....especially when we go to church. We greet each other with smiles, telling everyone we are fine, etc. We put our best foot forward in social situations. For the most part, that is a good thing, afterall, we shouldn't go to church with our grumpy attitudes, speaking everything we think, and holding back nothing. We shouldn't "let is all hang out." But on the other hand, how many times have you left church thinking that everyone else is perfect, and that they have perfect families, perfect marriages, and the "perfect" life, and you ask yourself, "What is wrong with me?"
As a missionary/pastor's wife, you get used to having others watch you. There is a certain amount of expectation that comes from the role you are in--it comes with the territory, so to speak, and is even Biblical. There are certain qualifications for the ministry outlined in the Bible which includes the wife's behaviour. We do have to live by a higher standard.
You have heard the expression about life in the fishbowl, whether you like it or not, your actions and reactions are being scrutinized. People will look at what you are wearing, your makeup, or if you shouldn't wear makeup, what you say, what you don't say, if you are friendly, whether they like your personality, if you accidently ignore them or forget to greet them, how you spend your money, what kind of car you drive, what your hobbies are, or if you should even have a hobby, if you exercise or not, what kind of food you eat, how your children behave, what your children do and where they go, how involved you are in church activities and ministries vs. spending time in the home, and the list goes on and on. Some of these things are valid, and others may be no one's business as long as you are doing the will of God and are living the way He has shown you and are not living in sin.
So when someone tells me I am real, I interpret that to mean people are relieved when they find out that the pastor's family has the same struggles and issues that they do. That we aren't "perfect" either. We argue occasionally, lose our temper at times, yell at our kids once in a while, say things we shouldn't, etc. We haven't arrived, but are striving towards the mark. Most people don't expect their pastors/missionaries or their families to be perfect, they just want someone who is honest.