In this blog I do my best not to tidy up the stories of my life. I try to be tastefully honest and thoroughly authentic. It’s hard enough making our way — we don’t need to live under the illusion that every body else has it all together and figured out.
My writing isn’t meant to be advice for Christian living — many others are much better resources for that. I’m a stumbling, searching, developing, grateful sojourner. Someone trying not to be churchy, but to know and love Jesus and to follow His purpose for my life.
I don’t think we reach our destination this side of heaven, but to persevere on the journey of seeking God, keeping Him first, and following His will is important. Otherwise put — I feel the tension between what the Bible says and how my cushy story reads.
I’m committed to change, struggle and sacrifice as God leads. I want to discover what my part is in God’s kingdom on earth. I’ve lived with Him enough to know it’s SO worth it when I follow Him. He is faithful to restore and renew all I offer to Him — and in surrender I’ve found a joy I never knew before — and I want to share that!
Culturally, it’s not always acceptable to reveal our hearts to others. We find it difficult to be ourselves because we’d prefer to be popular and successful than risk possible rejection by being REAL. When we encounter genuine self-disclosure and sincerity, we take notice — like a person’s profound last words. It’s expected we’ll be emotional and wax philosophical from our death beds. My challenge: why wait until old-age or tragedy hits to get real with others?
Even after many edits to my blogs, it’s difficult to publish. It’s even harder to put myself out there in REAL life. Usually God’s refining work isn’t accomplish when I’m strong and competent. God molds me at my lowest, ugliest, most difficult moments — where He can work miracles attributable to none other than His hand. I offer my stories, because sometimes it’s easier to relate to a fellow hot-mess than an authority on a subject.
It would be horrible for us to think that we’e the only ones who sometimes feel left out or lonely. Incompetent, unloved, frumpy, tired, or like we’re too much and too little all at once. That we’re way too busy, but haven’t done nearly enough. Insecure and unsure, even fearful at times about so many things. To think that we are unique in our doubt and struggles would be so discouraging and useless.
Let me digress a moment to say it’s just as important to share the triumphs, joy, hope and peace God offers us as it is to share the valleys. BOTH exist in every journey, and both are REAL moments to be lived and shared to the Glory of God.
Just as we hide our weaknesses, we also tend to be too embarrassed to admit the gifts God gives us and the transformational work He accomplishes in us. We’re afraid people will think we’re arrogant if we acknowledge God’s healing in our sin and brokenness. Or worse, we forget the work and blessings of God are all grace, and we take credit ourselves — then project false modesty. Neither is very God-honoring, attractive, or helpful in encouraging others.
We all struggle sometimes, both in hardships and blessings. We aren’t always graceful and merciful to ourselves (or others) in the midst of them. Instead, we often judge too quickly and hide our neediness so deeply that our hearts are never healed by God nor are our experiences helpful to others.
When we ignore, hoard or bury the real moments of life that don’t suit the image of ourselves we want to believe and project, we playact. We build glass sets representing our beliefs about what life should be, and by wearing masks and costumes we carefully orchestrate what the world sees through our walls. We even believe our own scripts.
We cheat ourselves and those whose company is entrusted to us of the encouragement, hope, empathy and compassion that comes from living and sharing real lives. Only in the truth of the present moment can we love God and one another.
Just last week I forgot my identity: fully accepted and worthy in Christ. I forgot He loves me just as I am, and that I can rest secure that He’ll provide all I need to accomplish His will. I forgot I live to please an audience of one —
I felt insecure and self-conscious, so I tried to cover up by getting dressed up. I worked really hard on my hair and make up. I made three different wardrobe changes, chose one, and then started all over again to match a better pair of shoes. I wanted to look just so: stylishly hip and together — why?
Girl’s night. I don’t know about you, but I can be the very least sure of myself in the presence of a group of women — Christians or not. I felt so much pressure to impress, fit in and even to appear “Godly.” To look more appealing and together than I am. I thought I needed to be an attractive Christian in order to represent Jesus well (embarrassing and laughable, I know).
I left home knowing I definitely wasn’t rocking my “costume.” I was reluctant to go, quite certain the “real me” was fully exposed and on display. My flesh was ugly, self-serving and ridiculous.
Thankfully, I came out of hiding, and low key me fit in fine with these beautiful and gracious women. We laughed and shared our experiences with menopause, teen-aged mean girls (young actresses) and our stressed-out schedules. We talked about the current highs and lows of our families. We shared REAL life in the moment. I think Jesus was glad, and he’ll further develop relationships or not as he sees fit.
We all desire community like this. To matter to the ones who matter to us. The ones we risk to show our real selves to in the unrehearsed and un-edited moments of life. That night we were authentic. As a result, I left dinner feeling renewed. That gathering wasn’t a coincidence but a life-giving gift and lesson from God, and I almost blew it trying to make it something else.
Why don’t we approach all of life’s social interactions as a gift and opportunity? I think that taunting voice that begins somewhere in our pre-teen years plays a role. It reminds us of every time we were excluded or ignored. It says we aren’t quite right for the in-crowd, and tells us some others aren’t quite right for us. We panic, because we were created in the image of God for community.
What if instead of conforming and chasing our agendas, we looked for real moments of focused presence with the people God places in our daily paths. Why not invest in rich community with them — even if briefly? The truth is we’re all left out of some things — but that’s only half the story. As Christians, we are also members of the most wonderful, exciting, joyful body on earth — and we’re commanded to encourage one another and invite others to join us.
Having the courage to honestly connect is often the first step toward obeying the Great Commission. It means risking being real, which invites rejection. We have to care enough about a hurting world to listen. Empathize. Serve. Encourage. We earn the right through honest realationship to share our stories and the Gospel with others who don’t know Him.
We have to be courageous enough to admit that we’re no better or more together in our flesh than the next person. To give Jesus credit for everything good in us or done through us… And then to leave the reactions of others and all the results and glory to God.
We know we bring nothing to God but our sin, and that we’re saved by divine grace. When I let that truth really soak in, I am amazed by His mercy and less caught up in myself. I want to encourage others and offer them the same hope Jesus gives me. God made us to need each other. The REAL you and the REAL me sharing REAL moments together.
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