Shiny Happy People Not Holding Hands

Don’t you just detest them? You know the type, the perfect, airbrushed families you see at the school gate or in the supermarket? The kids are always perfectly behaved and immaculately attired. No snotty noses or cheeky answers from these little darlings. They are top of their class and destined for great things, just like their parents, for that’s how the world works, right? Them and us, the have and the have nots. The shiny, happy people.

The dads high five each other a lot and laugh a little more loudly than is required. When you attempt to strike up a conversation with them on the sideline they will humour you but edge away ever so slightly. They congregate at social events such as barbecues and stand as far from the great unwashed as is humanly possible. Their BMWs are always spotless and you could cut your finger on the seam of their chinos. They are called Chad or Brad. Or Tad.

And then there are the mothers, bless them. Permanent grins plastered across their perfectly made up faces, dripping in designer labels and faux sincerity. They nod a lot and are often found at coffee mornings and on school fund raising committees. They were no doubt captains of their high school cheerleading teams. They don’t mean to come across all superior but, well, when in Rome….

These folk, when asked, are always ‘fine.’ Life is wonderful, as depicted on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. Their kids never cry, they never argue with their spouses and the ‘f’ bomb has never crossed their lips. The highlight of the week is invariably Sunday when they attend church to meet and mingle with other like minded types. They are often to be found on mission trips to far flung lands helping those who so desperately need them.

They are experts at nose crinkling. Confused? Well let me explain. When you are in conversation with them look beyond the immaculate haircut and gleaming teeth. Look into their eyes and tell me what you see. That’s right, there’s nothing there. You will have seen more compassion in the black dead pools of a great white about to lock its jaws on a doomed swimmer. Then look at their perfect, surgically enhanced, noses and spot the crinkle.

It’s that faintly disgusted flare of the nostrils as if someone has passed wind in the vicinity. They are uncomfortable in your presence as you are not one of them. Come Sunday morning they will hug you, engage in small talk and ‘promise to pray for you’ but the second you turn your back their memory banks are erased of all knowledge of you. Until the next Sunday, that is, when the same tired old routine will be played out again.

You won’t see much of them during the week. They are far too busy on the golf course, at yoga class or being ‘fine’ at some other unspecified location. If you encounter them in the street you’ll get the plastered smile and high pitched greeting but they’ll be too busy to stop and talk, gotta rush, so much to do. They leave you standing there, wondering what on earth you’ve ever done to deserve such appalling indifference from another human being.

They have doors and they have demons but they will never open or acknowledge them. For everything must be perfect, the facade must be maintained at all costs. There are cakes to be baked, holidays to be booked and all that other important stuff that a Proverbs 31 wife and mother does. They are good people and never let that be said against them. No snarling, no claws, no needless gossiping nor staggering hypocrisy from them.

Heaven forbid as they are the chosen ones. They are the shiny, happy people. But let’s not hold hands. Unless it’s a Sunday and the pastor’s watching.

Where are the shiny, happy people in your life?

Have you ever been the victim of a nose crinkling incident?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

58 thoughts on “Shiny Happy People Not Holding Hands

  1. The Stepford Wives (the 1970s version, not the Nicole Kidman one) is a great satire of these people. And it’s the perfect time of year for them. Is there anything more insipid than one of these phony families wearing jeans and white shirts in a pumpkin patch or other stereotypical autumn setting for their seasonal family photo?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Haha, this story made me laugh. Well written and so true. I see them sometimes, the fake trying to uphold their perfect lives, perhaps in fear of shame of a lesser perfect existence…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. No time to read it all, but wanted to say about a woman whos kids were perfectly clean, only to find she stands them on newpaper when they got home from school and spoon fed them! Be messy and free.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ooooh I’ve met many a nose-crinkler. In the old days, I would have wanted to break through their armour, would have been unsettled and confused when I found it was an intrinsic component of their being and left them once again no closer to learning anything new about them. Now, it’s different and thank goodness for that! I have stopped needing and wanting everyone to be my friend. It’s rather a relief. And as for the nose-crinklers, I daresay they’re still around but I don’t have the time or the energy for the superficial smalltalk any more. Good post sir.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Very well thank you. We appear to have been inundated with visitors which is really lovely, if somewhat akin to running a hotel, restaurant and tour guiding business. I’m getting the hang of it and it’s good to spend time with family. And how is Ireland? Is Brexit really causing upset amongst friends, or is that just in England perhaps?!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We are plodding along. It’s been a tough few months for us as a family but we’re still here. I’m glad you are enjoying your new life and seeing so much of loved ones. I don’t really know a lot about Brexit, I don’t follow politics. There is a lot of talk about it, that’s for sure.


  5. beautifully described! Shiny happy people behave as if nothing ever goes wrong in life – everything in their world is golden. This is what they must project at all costs. Shame it took me so long to work this out but better late than never!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ll never forget when, many years ago, I visited a church for the first time with my Mom (she was visiting). It was filled with these kind of people and we could sense the emptiness. When I got to my car following the service, parked right beside the church, I discovered I had a flat tire. Most of the members had to pass by me and not one of the at least 200 people offered assistance. Most averted their eyes quickly. I stood for 2 hours waiting for AAA to help. This lesson was so much better than the sermon served up that morning.

    I prayed for that church and its members. I’m not sure why they were there.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. The people you mentioned in your post used to bother me some. Nowadays and for the last few years I hardly notice them anymore because I really just don’t care about all of that bs. I’ve got my small circle of people I would do anything for and that’s where my focus stays, anywhere else would just be futile.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Honestly I find this post a long condescending and unkind. I am not saying that people and society do act these ways but you, the “not shiney” person are incorrect in supposing that you know these people at all. Perhaps their facade of putting out a perfect image is a result of a very grew sound from childhood or abusive background where they were constantly told they had to look perfect and all together. Or perhaps they come from generations of whiney perfect looking people and don’t know how to be real about the fact that they are a fake.
    I just want to say beware of the speck in other people eye when you may have a huge beam sticking out of your own. I am not wanting to criticize you but I feel this is not one of your best post and it actually made me sad in its arrogance and lack of any Grace of compassion. Take care…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you may not have sought to criticise me Jill, but you succeeded. I totally disagree with your comments. Me and my family have been deeply hurt by the church and supposed Christians within it. And I don’t need religious cliches flung in my direction when you have understanding of the pain and upset my wife & kids have endured at the hands of hypocritical Christians. I wish no further discussion with you on this matter given your narrow minded & blinkered thinking.

      Liked by 6 people

  9. Wow, you absolutely nailed it! As a single mom years ago I decided to go to a different church one Sunday with my son. Well! I didn’t have my “husband” with me. Well, I evidently was a stranger and I felt seriously like I’d walked into someone’s living room uninvited. In fact, when I went to take a sit not one but two different parishioners told me that the seat beside them was saved and that I couldn’t sit there. My son was nine years old and I made a point of displaying dignity and kindness and eventually located a seat (an elderly woman called me over, so not everyone was rude at least). It hurt me to the core of my soul. I have often encountered these “perfect” people whom you have so accurately described. They look down their noses and fail to display any shred of compassion. Unfortunately, church pews (regardless of denomination or religious creed) is jammed packed with them. I believe in God; I don’t believe in religion. Thank you for this post. You have described exactly what I have felt and seen. It is so hard to heal from the wounds inflicted by others.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for having the courage to write about what we all know to be the cruel truth. Church has hurt me and made me feel less than what God has intended me to be. I walked away from the church but I didn’t walk away from God. I feel far more mentally and spiritually healthier now that I am away from it and those hypocrites that inhabited it. Please continue to share your story. You have given me courage and knowledge that I am not alone. Thank you.


  10. I read this post and the one you’ve followed up with. I agree, 100%. Yes, they are the shiny happy people.
    I, too, as well as my family, will likely never be a part of the organized church again. We have had a similar experience, numerous times. I find that the truest representatives of Christ are usually those outside of the walls. I do believe there are those within the churches who are genuine, but most, unfortunately, are exactly how you have described.
    I think so many “Christians” today want the image instead of the heart. What a sinful world we live in, and what a tangled web we weave.
    Thanks for your honesty, and blessings to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ahhhh Stephen!

    Again, you write the words my own heart knows all too well. I love, love Jesus, but gosh if I don’t seriously struggle with organized religion! Time and time again, the church has not only failed to represent Christ and His love accurately, they have in actuality caused people to leave with a bad, bitter taste in their mouths not just toward organized religion but toward Christ as well. This deeply grieves my heart.

    It is my heart’s plea for those who’ve left the church that they’d not also leave Christ, but to be able to separate the shiney happy people from the man who lived among thieves and liars and common folk; who worked with His hands, had no home of His own and devoted His entirely life to the service of others and then—was the ultimate sacrifice for us. There is a difference—a MAJOR one! It sounds like you are able to separate the two, Stephen, and although you may still have wrestlings with God, you still inherently know that He is good and He is not being accurately represented.

    I respect you, Stephen. I trust that you are leading your family well and able to show them the love, support, and grace that they did not receive in the church. I hope so much too that you also have a community of people that are able to love you well.

    Treasuring you heart, my friend,


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh my goodness. This is such a relief that other people see the Shineys too and recognize them for who they are. One time my spouse spoke up in a small group of how life was very difficult; we basically got told to get over it and that’s the way life was. And one of the pastor’s was a Shiny… He almost seemed angry at our introversion. I hated it after awhile and we had to leave.


  13. Wow. You did such a nice job describing your observations. Granted, as your one critic stated, none of us know these people’s backgrounds, complexes, etc. But as observers, we can’t help but see and be impacted by how they portray themselves and behave at times.

    The thing I’d like to add is that, sadly, these people are not just in churches. They’re all over Facebook, Twitter, and even in our families, friends, work associates, and acquaintances. Undoubtedly, it’s an extra kick in the gut when the nose-crinkling is put forth as being done in God’s name.

    Regarding nose-crinkling in general, I have extended family members and former work colleagues whose carefully curated FB pages leave me with a knot in the pit of my stomach because I know the real story, off the grid. I know what reality is after the camera is turned off.

    Haughty superiority in the name of organized religion has always been around. Jesus Himself was criticized by the ‘organized’ church for associating with those who were NOT the shiny happy people. People like publicans, sinners, lepers, prostitutes. Jesus wasn’t condoning any of their bad behaviors, but he had to go to them to show them that there was a better way. And while he was around them, He didn’t act like he was holier than them. Rather, He showed compassion for where they were AT THAT POINT in time. And really, isn’t respect, empathy, and connection all that any of us want?

    I may be criticized for what I am about to say, but in my opinion, so much of this nose-in-the-air mentality in so-called churches can be tied to the preaching a prosperity gospel. In other words, if you have the perfect [Stepford] wife, drive the nice car, have beautiful well behaved children etc., it has to mean that you’re doing all the right things and God is smiling down and blessing your choices and way of life.

    Now, I’m not saying that believers have to be dirt poor to be humble [Abraham in his day was considered wealthy] but I do believe if The Holy Spirit is there, people around you will perceive a warm welcoming presence and will observe a character that is not haughty or condescending. That comment above about no one even bothering to stop and ask about helping with the flat tire in the church parking lot hurt my heart.

    Sometimes the only thing I know to do is take these things to The One who understands them and leave them there. Growing up in church, I heard so many times the admonition to ‘lay things at the foot of the cross’. I always thought of laying things down such as sins, bad habits, etc. But sometimes [at least for me] some of the things that I must surrender and lay down [for my own good] are perplexing questions, complexes, and past hurts.

    I wrestle with a lot of these same kind of things and find no answers. After a while I have no option but to give up and say “Lord I don’t understand … I can’t change this … But it really bothers me that people do such-and-such and refuse to see how they’re treating others … I have no choice but to give it to you”.

    Even then, I don’t find this to be a magic bullet or panacea that changes things immediately. I still FEEL the hurt. We are human. We’re not idiots. We ARE perceptive. We ARE picking up what we think we are picking up. Their ‘nose-crinkling’ IS very real at times and we DO see and we DO observe it.

    Our souls may be be born again, but our flesh and our emotions are not. That’s why we have to bring them subject to the mind of Christ and his Word as Apostle Paul said.

    But with that said, there is no sin in the fact that their ‘nose-crinkling’ elicits an initial ‘eyebrow raising’ and bristling from us. It’s what we do with our persistent feelings after that, that matters. Like telling a physically abused woman not to be so super spiritual as to not have a reaction—it’s impossible—plus it’s spiritual abuse on top of physical abuse. People have to be able to express themselves and talk about things without people sanctimoniously piling on.

    We’re all in this together. Not one of us has reached sinless perfection and the last time I heard, God is still on the throne, so we can all stop sending our resumes to Heaven asking for the position. We’re all still here on earth. None of us have yet flown away to sit on a cloud somewhere and play a harp and think we’re so perfect.

    We see. We observe. And some of us write about what we see and observe. Thank you for your well-written thought-provoking post.

    My 2 cents.


  14. Try not to be too jealous of these people. We all have problems to deal with (that’s what life is), but some have trouble admitting their own – either because thinking about them means they have to DEAL, while admitting to not being perfectly FINE puts their shiny-happy-people membership in jeopardy.
    If you can’t admit you have a problem, how can you solve it (or ask for help)?


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