Ben and I were driving up to Kitchener this weekend and dove into an incredible conversation. It has been on my mind ever since and I keep referring back to it in every day situations, as I am desperately trying to apply it. The point of the chat was on being real and I will try to compose my muddled thoughts to form some coherent paragraphs for you.
The definition of real is “actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed”. There is no other way of saying this really then that I am sick of being fake, of living an ‘imagined’ personality and not the true one I have been created to exhibit.. I do not understand this weakness we have as human beings, and even more directly, as Christians, where we cannot express who we truly are. It definitely comes from being cowardly, as it takes strength and bravery to acknowledge your screw ups and your honest dreams. But why as a society have we made it so difficult to be real? These fake personas and false identities we use as Christians only take away the power we have as individuals and it also steals power from the cross. To truly own up to your sins and be forth right with daily short comings we are exalting the Lord and acknowledging the fact that His grace is sufficient for us. When we pretend we have no hidden sins, or at least act towards others as though we are not wrestling with temptations, we make the faith of Christianity look unattainable or at least a big fake-fest that someone looking in from the outside would not want to participate in. Ben and I were sharing the truth that we have met more ‘real’ people who are not Christians then those we have come across daily in our churches, Christian schools, or faith based events (and yes we included ourselves in this group). It really is no wonder non-Christians cannot stand our faith…we are not admitting our true reality.
Take for example Eminem. In no way do I condone or agree with his music lyrics or lifestyle but take a look at his reality. He grew up in a racially tense Detroit, was abused by his mother, faced death at least twice from being beat up and lived a life of hatred and assault that I cannot imagine surviving. When asked why he sings such hateful, emotionally devastating lyrics he replies that those were true emotions he felt growing up. He had to battle with those thoughts of hating his mom to the point of desiring harm to come to her (which, according to the Bible we have all done if we have hated in our hearts). He was open, real, not living an imagined life trying to cover up his messed up mind. He spoke about his floundering and his upsets and did not hesitate to include the darkest parts of his heart we all try to hide, even from the Lord. He knows nothing but this and does not pretend to. This is why I feel many people were attracted to his music, they are attracted to people who are real and relatable. And this is where I find Christians fall short. We accept Christ and then become unrelatable to the world, usually too fearful or PROUD to accept and reveal we still need help.
Many Christian testimonies focus on the sin and darkness before finding Christ’s love, but not many people are willing to admit the inward tug of war and the selfish motivations that often still guide our actions. We seem to admit that being a Christian does not give you a hall pass for a great sin-free life, but we still do not fully commit to live a life of transparent honesty. I do not mean airing your dirty laundry on facebook for all to ooh and ahh over, but can you admit to someone that you tried to manipulate them due to selfish motives? Can you admit that we throw the term out “I’ll pray for you” like it will give us a gold star on the other person’s board even though you forget about it 5 minutes later?
For me it is selfishness, being worried I will get left behind or forgotten about. So, I feel the need to selfishly control situations so I end up in the position I want. That sentence itself was hard to type without using the past tense, as if it is no longer an issue…but why? I know that you know you aren’t perfect, so why do I expect you to think I am? It is a horrible cycle of dishonesty that discredits Christ and makes Him look as phoney as we are. Yes, my eyes have really been opened to my controlling nature but yes it will probably always be an underlying struggle. Just because I love Christ does not mean my default setting is to give him full control in every situation because I believe He knows best and has the big picture before him. No way. I continually seem to think I know my life better and therefore I have to make myself LEARN to surrender daily.
Obviously that is only one of my many real character traits that I still have to resist. And like we have always heard, we cannot change others, but we can change ourselves. I think that if we all started to be more open about our dark hearts then others would not feel the need to try to cover them up. Sin needs to be brought to light to be overcome, but if we hide it for the sake of other’s opinions we are hurting only ourselves. In the end we hide our reality which keeps others from feeling free to expose theirs, when we see others supposedly doing fine we continue to keep our sin hidden and like I said before, the vicious cycle continues.
Because, like mentioned above, YOU know that YOU are not perfect and OTHERS know THEY are not perfect either, so quit holding unattainable expectations for EACH OTHER and be REAL.