Why are people so apt at pretence?
I am putting my hand up high here.
We seem to be experts at putting on a front and making sure everyone thinks we have it all together. Like there is some social rule that says we must be able to function at a million miles an hour and be happy about it. We must have kids who are happy, healthy, well-behaved, academically successful, they also must be seen and not heard. We also must own our own home and keep it looking neat and tidy, because your kids don’t make messes that you need to run around all day cleaning. You need to also be successful at your job and cook organic meals for your family that everyone will be happy to eat.
This illusion keeps so many people bound it is ridiculous. We know it is crazy yet we all still bend to the pressures of society and find ourselves speaking similar lies even though we know it is wrong. Worse still, we speak them to ourselves.
We have similar pressures within the church. It is crippling individuals and keeping people stuck in brokenness. We must read our bible and pray every day and if we are having a hard time it is because we aren’t doing this. We need to serve our spouse and church and memorise scripture and have well-behaved kids. If we have struggles then our faith isn’t strong enough because we can do all things after all. It is a message that says we need to have dealt with our issues before we come to church, or hide them away so no one can see. It is trite answers that have no heart, that doesn’t hear the experience of another and empathise with them in their pain.
It is safer that way because then everyone else can feel safe in their own illusion. The illusion we are all shackled to.
Thankfully, I don’t hear too much of this in my church but there is still an old church culture in me. I want to fix myself before I go to church, and the extension of that is before I come to Jesus. I want to pack my mess up in a box and deal with it later. Yet, this mess that we have is what makes us all unique and beautiful. This mess of ours is the very thing that God wants to get a hold of because this is what he wants to transform and use the most.
This meagre offering of ashes, he desires to sweep up piece by piece.
It isn’t that God loves us despite our mess and shortcomings, which he is all too aware of. It is that he loves us because of our mess and shortcomings! He loves us exactly how we are, right now, covered in our sin and mess. We don’t have to do anything for him to accept us. He just does.
He is the master craftsman who is able to restore the masterpiece he created in each of us. It is just buried underneath all that mess.
If we heard our friend share an experience of theirs that saw them greatly hurt but as a result, they had fear in certain situations. Would you reject your friend because they weren’t perfect? No! You would have compassion on them and come around them and support them as they processed their brokenness and love them into healing.
Why would we expect God to do anything less than what we would do for a friend? Why do we still so strongly hold on to such a distorted image of God? He is so much better than we are. He doesn’t have a timeframe on our healing. As long as we wholeheartedly come back to him and surrender our mess, he is willing and able.
We are broken because we live in a fallen world. People have hurt us, all of us. We have experienced rejection, trauma, shame, hate, the list goes on. All these experiences have caused us to respond in different ways. Each of these responses has led us to deal with things is all varying of unhealthy ways. Unhealthy coping leads to poor choices, in all of us. We are all hurting and broken.
Jesus is just looking at us with all our heartbreak and he wants to love us into wholeness.
This is the gift he wants to give. Yet, we all sit in this place of brokenness hiding our true selves away from everyone around us for one simple reason, we fear that people will not love and accept us exactly as we are.
We, as the church, need to show people the love that Jesus has for them. We need to be loving people in their mess and walking with them as Jesus transforms their lives. In order to become that place, we must first become comfortable sharing our own brokenness. We must be able to confront our own mess and surrender it to God and be vulnerable with those around us.
I still struggle with a lot of unhealthy coping strategies, and as a result, poor choices. Jesus has much work to do in me. All I need to do is to surrender my mess to him. It seems like an endless pursuit, and it may be although when I reflect and see how far Jesus has brought me and what he has done in my life I know I can trust him with whatever I face in the future.
Now, I just need to remember to not wait until I fall in a heap before I surrender my mess to him next time.