One of the hardest things to do as a human being, I believe, is to BE REAL, to tell the truth, especially about who we really are.
We are people, sinners, surrounded by sinners.
We hurt each other; we inflict wounds and receive wounds from others, either intentionally or unknowingly. But by these experiences we learn to pretend. We wear a mask that is acceptable to present to the world. And inside, we hide the real me, the real you.
Some of us learn very early that it is not safe to tell the truth. From our parents, our siblings, our relatives, our teachers, and our little friends it comes, that first wounding.
Not many of us escape that wound. We find through pain of rejection that it does not reward us much if we show our true selves: the things we have done or are thinking about doing, or our feelings-our thoughts-our intentions, our hopes and dreams and wishes, even. There are things that we do not speak of. There are things that we do not acknowledge. There are secrets that must be kept.
And we grow up...perfecting the art of the lie about WHO WE ARE.
We present ourselves as whatever we need to be in order to feel acceptable and worthwhile. How well we present the image instead of the substance of who we are to the public. But inside we know very well who we are and what we are doing.
We are sinners. Yes, we know that we are.
We feel the brokenness. We feel the failure. We feel the weight of sin, those times when it is confessed yet we somehow cannot release it. Memories haunt, taunt us. The women we so want to be is beyond our reach. The quest for perfectionism beats us into submission and we crawl into the darkness of our hearts and our closets and cry, weep, wail, in anguish. We grasp for hope, for help, look for light.
We are alone.
Even God seems distant.
Oh, we cannot do this alone.
But to ask for help, now that is just too hard.
Because then we would have to let someone see inside.
We would have to let them know what living in this fallen world has done to us, how sin and failure have maimed and scarred us.
We would have to reveal our brokenness, our helplessness.
And then they might not accept us.
They might think we are weird.
They might think we are just truly messed up. Or worse, that we are just bad.
They might wonder why they are even friends with us.
They might think we are broken beyond repair.
Our burden might be too heavy for them to bear.
We are so scared to really speak truth with each other. Our brothers and sisters in the Lord are supposed to be our family. The church, the people of His body are supposed to be the ones to whom we can go to find love, grace, forgiveness and acceptance. These people are supposed to be Christ in flesh form, so that we can know but also experience that we are His and that we are not alone.
But honesty is dangerous. And costly. And difficult.
It requires much courage to open everything in our heart and let someone see it all for what it is: imperfect, flawed, struggling, in need of healing, in need of love.
You see, we are like God when we see someone in truth, and do not turn away, but instead give grace. This is being a real friend. A friend loves. A friend listens. A friend cares, even when it is hard to care. A friend is safe to be honest with, and a friend shares openly and honestly, too.
Without this honesty, though, real family unity, real community is impossible. And it requires that we give of ourselves, both the one being open and the one who is seeing the openness.
And oh the love of God that is poured out on both the giver of this grace and the receiver of this grace when we are strong and bold and courageous and SEE each other in truth and we then CHOOSE to love anyway.
Even if the revealed heart, the once-hidden now spoken truth, is messy, ugly, complicated, and really screwed up, or scary sad and we have no idea what to do with it.
We don't have to have the answers to fix things.
We instead can be honored to come alongside another. We look to God. He is entrusting us to be like Him in this person's life.
And we look inside and know that we are, ALL OF US, broken, marred by sin, capable of the most wretched things that have divided us from ever deserving the grace and love and forgiveness that has been given to us FREELY, costing us nothing.
And so how can we not freely give this same grace to our sister or brother?
Or what about our own child?
Because the ONE place our children should most be able to be honest about who they are and what they are thinking, feeling, hoping, and struggling with or failing is in our homes, well, and in our hearts.
Can we teach our children about grace instead of teaching them to pretend?
And can we be the safe person in the lives of everyone we know, the one who is able to hear the secrets and not turn away in disgust, but instead be Jesus to them?
Can we be transparent, and tell our truth? Can we be real about who we are?