Saturday, April 21, 2018

Becoming Real

Soon after becoming a follower of Jesus, I was taught a model for sharing my faith story with others. It looked like this:
1. What I was like before I came to trust Christ
2. How I came to know and believe in Jesus
3. How I've changed since becoming a believer in Jesus (just the good stuff!)

It's an effective model, but it's time to add number 4. I want a more complete picture of the Christian life, because what I see sometimes is just the happy, just the Facebook post, just the Instagram filtered. I want more. I want real.

I want:
4. How I am struggling today

I need to hear how believers are still fighting the good fight and keeping the faith. I need to know it's not always easy. I need truth and reality, not magic wand, silver bullet, Disney-happy-ever-after, because that is not where I live.

When I'm really sharing my story with you, I'm sharing myself. I'm giving you the good and the bad and the ugly. I let you in on, not just the victory, but the strife as well. Who wants to hang out with a person who experiences only sunshine and rainbows? How can that person possibly understand my very real problems? What I want is someone to share those conflicts with, someone who could pray with me, someone who might understand what I'm going through. Jeff VanVonderen once said that he wanted to hear a testimony where someone stands up in the church and says, 'I'm barely hanging on today and if God doesn't come through, I don't know what I'm going to do.' Because that is a real testimony too. Testimony is not just the good stuff, not just the blessing - it includes the whole story: the losses, the difficult, the trials.

Pain and failure are such great equalizers. We don't share the same upbringing, the same education, or bank accounts, but we have all been hurt. We all know what it is to fail. Those are the moments that call out to our humility and our humanity.

"Because of our innate pride, it is usually only in failure that we 
admit our need." -The Becomers

On my very first day of school, when I was just six years old, I was dropped off at the door to my classroom by my older sister. My mom was busy at home with my baby brother. I remember being anxious as I walked into the room and found my desk. Most of the other children had their mothers with them to help them adjust to this new world. I began to settle myself into my desk and I reached over to tuck my book-bag into the cubbie underneath. I leaned as far as I could to give the bag a final push. Suddenly, my desk tipped and fell on top of me with a crash. All the moms in the room jumped to attention to try to help me, but I was too fast for most of them. I was on my feet in a matter of seconds, dusting myself off, and picking up my Blue Horse notebook and Crayola crayons. At least one mom had put my desk back in place before I could get to that task. I slid back into my seat and pretended to be interested in the surface of my desk while wishing I was invisible.

When I reflect on that day, this is the question that pops into my mind: Why I so ashamed of being helped in my time of need? My answer is this: I wanted to appear "fine." There is something within me that is scared to death of allowing others to see my weakness. This fear can keep me trapped in spiritual and emotional isolation. Think of what I missed that day by being so "strong". I had missed the blessing of relationship, the blessing of kindness from the other moms, all because I was too embarrassed to look needy. 

Thankfully, God loved me enough to not let that be my last fall. Each failure ushers in another chance to open my soul to people, to take the risk, to be vulnerable. If I pass the opportunity up, God will bring more. He will not give up - He's so crazy consistent! We sometimes refer to Him as faithful. He will draw me with cords of lovingkindness until I feel safe enough or desperate enough to admit my need. And then He will arise to meet it. That's Who He is and what He does. The Father lets me fall so I can come face to face with my need for others and for Him.

He's making me real.

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