A great little piece from Mbird friend Russ Masterson. To order a copy of Russ’ new book, 40 Days Without Food, go here:
Last week Lady Gaga was interviewed on the CW by Jean-Paul Gaultier, the renowned French fashion designer. The set was typical Gaga, stark and bizarre, everything wrapped in some sort of white plastic wrap. They talked about her life, career, and philosophy. Quite fascinating, really. Gaga, as we all know, projects a message of radical acceptance — be yourself — if you are a monster, be a “little monster.” Yet toward the end of the interview she said something odd:
I think it’s why I like fashion and style so much. I feel the ability to create an alternate fantasy and reality for myself that, if I do it over and over again every single day of my life, falling asleep in my wigs, my make-up, my jewelry, my dresses then somehow my fantasy becomes my reality.
This got me thinking. Why we would need to create an alternate reality if we truly accept ourselves? Yet I also know we all do this in little ways, building facades and letting few people really see us as we are. It’s exhausting trying to avoid yourself, or create another identity. It requires constant maintenance.
While I’m drawn to Gaga’s philosophy of self-acceptance, I wonder if she sets up an impossible dichotomy, short-changing rest. Depending on where you’re coming from, genuine self-acceptance might leave you in despair or put you to work. For those who have hit some serious bumps in the road, both self-inflicted and otherwise, this is the dead-end that comes in recognizing the difference between where you should be (or like to be) and where you are. Those who have ostensibly ‘succeeded,’ on the other hand, are thrust into the endless toil of forming and maintaining a persona of perceived worth/acceptance. I suspect all of us do one or the other – Gaga works, I work – the brokenness of our lives is simply too hard to dodge. I wonder what would happen if we were to accept something a bit foreign to our logic: the rest that arrives when you stare down the little monster and see that you are not just different but actually broken, yet accepted by your Creator in that condition.
Self-acceptance alone is good for the hour but not for the day. Our hearts and inner sense of security need something stable. This comes by grace, the Grace that tells us that we are always accepted, monster or not. And this grace, which flows from the heart of God and is seen in the person of Jesus, is alive. It might even begin to change us, from the inside out (rather than the outside-in as Gaga suggests), maybe even to the extent that we won’t need to wear our wigs to sleep.