Honesty. Raw, unfiltered, vulnerable honesty about life and living and the secrets behind the facade.
It changes the world.
As a Christian, sometimes I’ve felt required to put up a happy face, to show the world my smile and my shiny life (only after I’ve scrubbed off the debris and shoved the mess back into the cupboards).
I once believed that was how I’d show God’s love to the world: God loves me so much that He has give me this fantastic life. He loves you that much too, would you like Him to give you a fantastic life too?
It was as if I felt like the smiley sales representative of a shiny and attractive live-long-and-happy club.
When I realised that this was diametrically opposed to Christianity, I was nervous, surprised and then relieved. Oh. so. relieved.
So does this mean that if I have a bit of a messy heart and if my mind gets itself in tangles sometimes, I don’t need to hide this?
If my marriage shows cracks and my kids muck up and I say something ugly, I haven’t broken the golden rule(s)?
Not at all.
When I put on weight and struggle to gain control of my body and when my house is messy and matches the messy in my life, does this mean I’m still on track?
Because I believe that our honesty, vulnerability and true-hearted sharing of ourselves is what will and does change the world.
Jesus didn’t promise us the perfect life. Quite the opposite. On this subject, He said He’d come to give us “life, and life in abundance,” (John 10:10) but that there’d be hard stuff and messy days and broken places (John 16:33).
He would Always Be With Us. Because that’s the difference giving your life to Jesus makes. Because life can still suck and days can still be exhausting and lives can still tangle.
You’re never alone in the suck of it all. Never alone in the exhaustion and the tangle and the mess.
God is with us, always.
Somewhere along the way we’ve developed a sense of responsibility that representing our faith means putting up this grand and lovely picture of a healthy marriage, happy family, fulfilling life. And while those things are definitely the goal, they’re not the every-day-reality [The sooner we acknowledge that they won’t be our every-day-reality until Heaven, the happier we will be, ironically].
When we show our raw and honest reality, when we share our stories and refuse to hide our pain and vulnerabilities, not only do we step closer to accepting ourselves as we are, but we also hold out a hand to someone else. We say, Yep! We all struggle, we all have our moments and you are so okay!
When the lonely teenager or the newly single mum or the struggling wife walks into a room, or into our home, or into our church, do we want her to feel intimidated by the pristine-ness of our ‘lives’? Or do we want her to breathe a sigh of I’m-glad-I’m-not-the-only-one type relief?
I prayed a prayer when I was young. It was a bit of a weird prayer, I guess, but it’s one that I’ve held closer to my heart, the older I get and the more of life’s difficult paths I’ve walked.
This was my prayer:
Jesus, don’t let me intimidate anyone.
Weird, I know. But I didn’t want people to think I was all that (even though sometimes I did want it, closer to the surface!). I didn’t want people to try and compare themselves with me and my life and find themselves wanting. I didn’t want to make people feel less-than. And while I’m sure I have my moments, when I stack that facade so high that it seems like sure-reality, this journey of honest story-telling is wrapped around this idea.
Jesus, don’t let me be intimidating. Let me breathe life and love and truth into others, instead of comparison and disheartenment and disappointment with themselves and with their own lives.
So that’s how I want to change the world. I want to stop the intimidation and the facade and the shiny. In my corner and in my home at least. I want to encourage people on the journey that I myself have walked. I want to encourage people – you, my friend – to love yourself, just the way you are. And to embrace your story.
Hard stuff happens. Terrible stuff, even. But let’s not allow the pain to be exacerbated by the hiding. Let’s allow honesty to heal us – and let’s allow it to heal those around us. Let’s allow honesty to change the world.
This post was originally written in response to H&L Writes’ July prompt. Check out their amazingness here.
*Main image by Evie Shaffer on Unsplash.
*Graphic background by Terra Evans on Unsplash.