I got together with two very unique brothers in Christ to talk. They are two trusted people who I respect both as individuals and as brothers in the Lord. They are both gifted and have been given a great responsibility to shepherd others and I admire their efforts and hearts to do so. It was during our conversation, I was confronted by them concerning several areas in my life that I have held back from our community for whatever reason and in part, they wanted to know what I thought about what they had noticed. For me to share what I am about to share is very difficult because it makes me vulnerable and transparent. It scares me to share apart of me with others because I never know how someone will perceive what I had just shared with them. I DO believe it is important though to share my downfalls with others in order that I will be perceived in the right light – a messed up child of God.
I will never forget when I shared with a buddy I had known for a long time regarding a serious sin. This individual just stared at me and just shook his head at me. He said something like, “I don’t understand how you could do something like that. I thought you were a Christian. Christians don’t sin like that. What’s wrong with you?” I will tell you what was wrong with me – I was and still am a messed up child of God.
Going through an experience like that at a young age where one is trying to figure out his identity is hard. When one gets enough courage to share with someone an area of sin that he is dealing with, only to have it thrown right back in your face, is both humiliating and hurtful. Why do we act that way? Why do we throw it right back in their face? Why do we allow others to feel guilt and shame simply because they are dealing with sin? To me, I felt like I needed to just shut down and deal with my dirty secrets by myself. From then on, I would only allow people to see the surface parts of me.
There is only one problem with that line of thinking – it is impossible to build quality relationships with others when you only live in the surface. Sometimes, one has to be willing to put their crap on the line in order to be real with others, to engage in a real relationship. This is so important. This is the biggest area I need to work on in my own life. I do not trust people. I would rather push people just far enough that they cannot see the crap that lies around me because it is ugly and dirty and honestly, I don’t think people would care if they saw it or not.
One of the guys mentioned that when we are able to be real with others in community, it is then we are free. I believe that. I have to say that it is not very often I feel free. I feel like I have to be someone who is seen in a good light and that others will see me as a “perfect, un-cracked vessel for God.” Why do I try to deceive people? Why do I try to make people believe that I have no faults or sins in my life? It isn’t like they would believe me anyway. I guess the response I can give is: “Even though we have all fallen short of the glory of God, few people live that way in community.” Showing our crap means, in essence, that others can see you fully undressed. When was the last time you allowed yourself to be naked before other people? I can tell you for myself that it is a rare moment for me. I like to keep myself covered so others will only see a part of me that I want them to see. It seems easier that way I guess.
So – Here is me naked. Here is me completely unclothed and standing before you as a messed up child of God. I have a crap pile of faults and a laundry list of sins that come with me. There are times I have inappropriate thoughts that would make a nun blush. There are times when I have hated a brother or sister in Christ. There are times I have lied about what I was doing or where I was going so that others would see me as a “good person.” There are times I have wasted so much time online, my eyes was hurting from looking at a screen for so long. There are times I have looked at things I should have and other times I have read things that I shouldn’t have read. There are times when I sat and listened to gossip so I could share it with others later and other times when I have started rumors that I knew were not true in the first place. I hate most drivers on the road and I have shown my disapproval of their driving skills with hand motions that have displayed anger. There are times when I am easily angered by stupid things that mean nothing. I am often jealous of people who are in relationships with someone because I am not in one and wish I was and times when I have just shut down and hid from the world because I felt like no one would even care if I existed or were around. There are times when I don’t handle money well and other times when I hold back from giving when I know I could help others out because I am selfish. Lastly, there are times where I have allowed myself to believe that I am not needed or important.
This is only the beginning of my messed up life. This is what I am dealing with even now – a lot of these issues seem to relapse in my thoughts and actions. There is no easy answer for any of this. This is who I am. I have been told I never share these things so here I am. Here is my crap. Here are the areas I am dealing with and the areas I am struggling with. Are you going to run away or sit there and shake your head? Are you going to guilt me and tell me that I am a loser? It doesn’t matter to me. As a wise guy I know wrote in his journal while walking through the woods, “You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone.” I am so desperate for community. I am so desperate for real relationships that go beyond the surface. For me, this is one of many steps I need to take. It can only get better from here on out.