In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wanted to write a book about “transparency in the church”. As someone who, before Christ, used to lie a lot, and as someone who got tangled into a web of lies that led to destruction, I’ve learned that pretending to be perfect never pays off in the end.
It may get you many “friends”, and may lead to a great reputation (especially in the church), but what good are those things when, as you pretend, you are simultaneously handing Satan a key and saying “you can use these secrets to destroy me”? And to be honest, I learned those types of “friends” don’t stick around when those secrets eventually come out, so there is no use in them. It’s better to have real friendships where your brothers and sisters know where you struggle than to have “perfect friends” earned by your “perfect reputation”.
What you don’t understand is you are not just risking your own holiness when you pretend and lie to people: there is much more on the line.
In his song “Real”, NF said a line that resonated with me.
He said “Do you want to know where my heart is? I stand out because I wear my garbage.”
Let me wear my garbage for you:
- I struggle with pride. Because I was raised to be “morally good”, I can often look down on people, even though I know, deep down, I’m just as sinful as them. You can also add my struggles with thinking I’m “smarter” than people here.
- I struggle with applauding “karma”, especially when it’s against those who have hurt me. I know it’s wrong, but my gut reaction can sometimes be “they deserved it”.
- I struggle with jealousy. There are a lot of things I’ve missed out on in life that are common place for others and I hate it. When I see someone else celebrating those specific things, I can get really bitter, mean, and cold towards anyone who brings it to my attention (let alone, the person celebrating).
- I struggle with wanting to trust astrology over God. That might sound stupid to you, but this is one of my biggest struggles. Because I was so heavily engrossed in it pre-Jesus, I am often tempted to seek it for answers. I’m not going to cause others to stumble by explaining it here, but suffice it to say I spent hours in it daily pre-Jesus. It’s more than just a monthly horoscope in a magazine.
- I struggle with forgiveness. I’ve had some very messed up things happen to me in my life. While I won’t be so public with some of those things (because they involve other people), it’s safe to assume those things had deep psychological effects on me. Because of that, I fear trusting people. And those that have hurt me? I struggle with truly forgiving them like God forgives me.
- I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts pre-Jesus and post-Jesus. During some of my darkest times, I’ve struggled with suicidal thoughts, thinking that was the only way out of my suffering. God’s grace has gotten me through those “valleys”, so to speak, but because of it, I can understand when people find themselves in those same valleys.
That isn’t the end of it. There are plenty more, but I don’t want to spend all of my time listing out every little thing I struggle with (we can talk about that privately, if you wish).
The point of me making this list is to show you that no Christian is perfect. There isn’t a Christian on this planet that isn’t tempted by something. Jesus Himself was tempted. Paul, the greatest missionary in history, spoke about the “thorn” he was given in 2 Corinthians 12:7. If they were allowed to be tempted, who are we to think we won’t be either?
What I want you to take away from this post is this: it’s better to be authentic with people than put on a mask and pretend to be perfect. If you stumble (which will happen if you hide what you struggle with from your brothers and sister in Christ), you will not be the only person affected. Every single person you did ministry with will also be affected. All your friends. All your leaders. All those under you. All those who look up to you. EVERYONE will have questions. Some will begin to doubt God. Some will walk away entirely. You don’t have to be the lead pastor of a church to cause irrefutable damage to a lot of people. You don’t have to be a pastor at all. Anyone who looks to you for any kind of spiritual guidance will question God as a result of your stumble.
Don’t believe me? Think about someone who committed one of those “big sins” in your church. How were they talked about? How were they treated? How did those under them look at them after the fact? (P.S. I was one of those people and I can tell you right now that I lost a lot of friends. I was also shown that some friendships were truly authentic because they didn’t treat me or my husband differently afterwards, but rather, they suffered with us, prayed with us, and loved on us when we needed it most…and for those friends, I am extremely grateful to God. They are true brothers and sisters in the faith!).
I know I risk a lot in being authentic. Some people might see that I struggle with Astrology and think I’m a witch or something. Some people might think it’s ugly that I get jealous from time to time. Authenticity is ugly sometimes. I’d rather be authentic and have someone go to me for guidance with their struggles than force someone to stay quiet because, in their eyes, I have an “unattainable righteousness” and I’ll judge them.
Let me tell you something right now: Whatever it is that you struggle with (NO MATTER WHAT), there is another Christian on this planet that struggles with it to. NO. MATTER. WHAT. You may think it’s weird. You may feel ashamed and alone: you’re not alone.
Let me repeat that: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
If nothing us, read this and understand that. You are most certainly not alone. There is another Christian out there who is a little further on their journey in your shared struggle and they can help you. They can understand you. In order to find them, you need to be authentic and they need to be authentic. And if you’re that Christian that’s further along, start sharing with others. Be authentic too. Make some of those struggles and won battles public. Allow those newer to that journey to find you and seek your guidance.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” – 1 John 3:16
We’re not meant to live this life with perfect reputations. We’re meant to live this life emulating Jesus, laying our lives down for others. That also means our reputations and the opinions of others.
Lay your life down. Be authentic. Be TRULY authentic.