Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Authenticity

Do you like me?

Would you still like me if I told you that I'm not perfect?  I'm not talking about being an imperfect housewife (although I am certainly that).  I'm talking about fears, failures, struggles, and doubts.  Would you still like me if you knew?

A few months ago I was talking with someone about my battle with depression.  He said that, when he talks openly about his depression, "people come out of the woodwork" to share their own stories.  But nobody wants to bring it up first.

I think the reason for this is two-fold.  We don't want to burden other people, and we don't want to reveal our own weaknesses.  But, as Pete Wilson writes in Plan B: What Do You Do When God Doesn't Show Up the Way You Thought He Would?, "Regardless of its origins, the result is clear.  People in churches often fail to bring their real problems to church.  So often in our churches we don't hear about stuff until it's too late.  It's as though nobody has small problems.  As someone once described it to me, we only hear about the house burning down; we don't hear about the electrical problem."

"Stained Glass Masquerade," a song from Casting Crowns, is even more direct about it:
Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain


Lyrics | Stained Glass Masquerade lyrics

These two examples are referring to churches, but what about other communities--an extended family, a circle of friends, the blogging community, or another group?  Are we free to be real in our interactions with people?  What do we need to allow us to be authentic?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, but I think the answer has been right in front of me all along:  Grace.  It's a beautiful thing.  Here's part of a blog post I read today:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

After thousands of years of sincerely religious people bluffing and play-acting with love, God gives His children a new heart: completely new creatures, fully righteous, without any condemnation, who can actually live out this verse without it enflaming them to rebellion, like every other command had done before.

So, you’d think we’d automatically now fully love each other, meet deep needs, affirm each other, free each other and be used of God to bring one another in from the cold.
How awesome would it be, to be in a community where people could "fully love each other, meet deep needs, affirm each other, free each other and be used of God to bring one another in from the cold"?  In this kind of community, we'd be free to be real.  We could be ourselves without the fear of being rejected, because grace allows authenticity.

I'm blessed to be part of a community of grace, with a few close friends and in my church family.  I've been in churches that weren't that way, though, and it makes me sad.  As Christians, we have received a tremendous gift.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8

When I think about my many weaknesses and failures, bad decisions and foolish actions ... and then realize that God has forgiven me for all of that, I'm simply overwhelmed. How can I not share that?

Everyone needs a place to be real.  If you don't have a place like that, keep looking for one. Our time here is too short – the Word tells us, life is but a vapor (James 4:14) – to squander in less-than-authentic relationships. Make yourself available. Extend the grace that has been so freely given to you. You are a vessel that has been filled to overflowing – pour out all that forgiveness, acceptance and love on someone else.

Disclosure: The Plan B book title link is an affiliate link.  Thanks to my friend Meri for her help with this post!

10 Comments :

Kerri said...

Share away Melissa, I offer myself as a listener/reader to your daily struggles and REAL life.
I like you! And I don't scare away easily.
Life IS too short.

"Miss" Anita said...

My mind is flooding with all manner of things I'd like to comment about. Suffice it to say that I totally agree that we need to be more authentic... and not "just" Christians. The world would make us think that they are being authentic and that Christians are the ones who are being fake. However, I think we all hide behind masks... afraid to be ourselves and show our "true colors."

Thank you for sharing this blogpost with us. :)

Frugal Tumbleweed Acres said...

This is the most wonderful post, of yours, that I have read. Most people don't write about being a Christian. The Lord sent me on a mission to my family about a month ago. I am His ambassador and happy to be so.

You addressed depression briefly. Love one another as Jesus loves us. There would be no different thoughts toward you from me.

I thank my Saviour for leading me to counselors and medications to bring me to the place I am today. Praise God.

BTW, you quoted Ephesians which is my favorite book of the bible. Just thought I would tell you it is like you were speaking personally to me. Thank you.

Tammy@ Not Just Paper and Glue said...

Blessings to you. This is wonderful article.

"fully love each other, meet deep needs, affirm each other, free each other and be used of God to bring one another in from the cold"

That is what the true christian church should be all about :)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

"We don't want to burden other people, and we don't want to reveal our own weaknesses." I think you hit the nail on the head right there!

Alexis AKA MOM said...

Anyone who thinks they are perfect or can do no wrong really needs to take a long look in mirror. I've learned that looking around and picking up our friends when they need it comes back tenfold may not always be from the ppl around us but sometimes the unexpected and new angels that have been brought to us.

HUGS always to you my dear!

Elle (MB) said...

Hi there Melissa. I found you because you entered a contest on my blog. I also am a Christian (Elle from www.taketworeviews.com) and have been struggling with depression myself. I'm pretty much in a rut right now where I'm kind of mad at people, God, the world...you name it. It feels very cold to me when I do admit how I feel and people say stupid stuff, like "praying!". That's nice and everything, but how about asking how you can help or something? It just feels pretty cold. I go to a great church, but its far from us so getting in smaller groups has been out of the question lately. I might have to do something though...just feel isolated really stinks. I have another blog: www.crossdrivenhome.com. I am going to follow you. You are so encouraging!

Sherry said...

I know it took me a long time to reveal about depression, but it was a healing thing for me. I got help and am now doing wonderfully with God's and my families help!

~ Noelle said...

my other comment disappeared...
as i was saying...
i am not going anywhere...
always here to listen...
I hope that once Marc and I get settled, we can find a good church to join...

Laura said...

What a great post! I'm going to check out Plan B -- it looks like a great book.

You're right. We all need a community of grace, and we need to let ours slosh over onto everyone around us.

Take care.

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