Monday, January 7, 2013

SDG - Authentic Community

You go to church on Sunday. Hurting. Struggling with the trials you face. They may be raising special needs children. They may be health issues. They may be loss of a job or loss of a family member. You carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. An acquaintance comes up to you to say hi and asks how you are doing? You answer: “Fine” with an awkward smile. LIAR! You are not fine. You are not doing ok.

From your view the acquaintance looks great. Doesn't seem to have a hair out of place. She replies, “Great, I'm doing fine as well.” LIAR. You don't know what lies beneath that facade. Broken marriage. Financial struggles. Depression.

Neither of you is being authentic with the other. Neither of you is willing to lay aside your pride and your insecurities to be honest with each other. You are not willing to admit humility and ask for help.

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. (James 5:16 Msg)

It should be our common practice to be open and honest with each other. How can we be whole? How can we be healed if we aren't honest and authentic?  Why do we allow ourselves to lie to each other when we are called to be people of the truth?  I think it is because we are spending too much time on our facades. The view that we want people to see. The view that we want people to think we are. The view we wish we were.

I am not just finding this at church, but also in the blogosphere or anywhere else I meet Christians. We all wear this facade. We don't allow ourselves to be authentic because we don't want to be judged. But then we become what we didn't want to become – judgers. We start to judge ourselves on a perception and not on a truth. We start to judge others on the same perceptions. We allow ourselves to be valued not on authenticity but on illusion. That person seems to have it all; why don't I? That person has no idea what I face on a daily basis. That person must have a housekeeper, her house can't be that clean by itself.  On and on goes the judging and the lies, until we end up like the Pharisees. Self righteous people trying to be holy and failing miserably.

It is my belief that we as Christians are not willing to embrace our own messes or others messes. It is too messy. It is too scary. Too real. What will people think?  What will people expect from us when we start being honest. I was once told by a friend that another acquaintance thought my house was immaculate. That I did not have any dirt anywhere. She told me this while we were cleaning for my move. I quickly pulled out one of the beds and revealed the dust and dirt that had been under there for 4 years. See we all have that dirt. It is just hiding.

I struggle with being authentic. I have troubles with asking for help.  I do not want to burden people with my mess.   I rarely ask for prayer.  I rarely allow people to see the real messy me. The weak me.  Most people see me as a strong individual. Someone to have fun with. Someone who can be brutally honest. But how honest am I when I don't share with those who are close to me. When I don't allow them into my messes.  Am I selling myself and others short when I don't share?  How can I expect others to share with me their brokenness and pain, as well as their triumphs, when I am reluctant to do the same.  

I just started reading "So Long, Insecurity" by Beth Moore. It is already speaking to me. Beth suggests that some of the reasons for our insecurities come from trust issues with God. I think this is also the reason we struggle with authenticity. We don't truly trust God and we don't truly trust each other. How many friendships have we lost because of a perceived betrayal?  How many times have we been let down by people who don't meet our expectations?  How many times have we let people down?  But you see God never lets us down.   He is always with us.  He loves us just for who we are and not for what we are.   He loves us because of our messes. He wants our messes. He embraces our messes.

If we want true relationship with Jesus and each other we need to admit our weaknesses.  We need to embrace them and be authentic with each other and ourselves about them.  We need to show people that we are not doing “fine.” We need to allow Jesus to break down the facades we have built up and allow people into our messes. They may not know how to handle it. That's ok.  God does. Our friends and acquaintances may not know what to do or to say. Admit it. We don't have all the answers. God does. If we don't have the words, pray. You don't have to pray right there but let them know that you will pray for them and actually do it. Ask others to pray with you. Nothing will be solved unless we start handing God our messes and allow others to do the same.

We are meant to be in community with each other. But unless we can truly be authentic with each other, what kind of community are we building? 

I am linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria Sisterhood this week at Finding Heaven.  


Kendal Privette said...

one of the things i love about blogging is that many women are indeed open to sharing authentically. i find it so encouraging - i am not alone in my messy life! great post, michelle.

Jen Ferguson said...

Am I selling myself and others short when I don't share?
--I think the answer to this is "yes." And I think that when God prompts us to share, we have no idea of the ramifications of this. So often, it is not just about us. When we give of ourselves, even if it is our mess, we are still giving -- opportunities, authenticity, willingness, openness, etc. God can do so much with us, if we would let Him.

Love this post on sisterhood. And you!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think that we are afraid to be messy and allow others to be that way with us because then we have to deal with it! It's much easier to pretend everything is perfect. But the friendships I value the most are the ones where we can be free to be just that. (And by the way, you should totally see under my bed!)

Sherri Davidson said...

Wow what a beautiful post Michelle!! I as you know way too often try to things alone and don't reach for the help of others. Let's make a pack to always reach out to each other. Your mess, my mess, lets make God's perfect mess together.

Shannon said...

Really great post Michelle! Lots for me to think on here

Pamela said...

It's hard for me to share my physical issues with others. Last April I had to speak at a women's gathering. I was speaking about joy and was asked to include joy in grief and joy in physical pain. It was murderous to speak on my pain. In fact I asked if they really wanted that part. Out of the 1000 women the response to chronic pain was the greatest. We steal from people when we aren't authentic--they need to know "I'm not the only one." I'm praying God will speak to others as they read this call to live an authentic life.

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I'm a 39 year old (oh yeah I'm telling you my age) Stay at Home mom. A former Bad Girl now reformed sinner, I'm married to my Y2K guy and raising 3 great children from God. Proudly Canadian, however, missing the West Coast, I currently live in the prairies watching the farmers fields produce as I learn how God produces the fruits in me.

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