Tuesday, June 16, 2009

walking a mile ...

i've been thinking a lot lately about being transparent. its been really heavy on my heart for months now. there r several places in the bible where the idea of transparency comes forth -- although finding the word itself there, would most probably yield little if any results. especially not in the context that comes to my mind. but if u do a search for the word expose -- u will come up with quite a list of the places in the bible where someone's sin has been exposed to god or to others around them. i don't really care for the word expose because it has such a negative connotation, but i like the word transparent.

in james 5:16 it states: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." later in verse 19 it states that if one should wander from the truth, another should bring him back because its saving him from death. and this is the kind of transparency that has been brought to my mind.

a couple of weeks ago at church, i was amazed because in the middle of the service a gentleman in our church (who i must admit i don't really know), got up and exposed his "sin" to everybody in the congregation. i had been thinking about transparency for a while at that point and the fact that a lot of ppl in the church wear nice neat little masks that hide what is really going on in their lives. i'd even had a discussion with another church member because i felt as if more ppl in the body could be transparent about their flaws and not feel a need to hide them, that more ppl would come to christ. and of course, i could "feel" things when i'm around certain ppl and it made it apparent to me that stuff was being hidden to keep the appearance of perfection.

now here's where it gets messy, because basically, i'm a mess -- i have been all my life and i know where i fall very short of being what it is that papa god would like to see of me. i also know that only by his grace and the gift given of his son on the cross am i cleansed. that doesn't mean i'm free to sin again -- it means that if i fall, papa god still loves me, picks me up, dusts me off and sends me on my way again. its that simple. and i don't try to hide what is going on in my life -- i did that for 22 years and the only thing it got me was divorced and miserable.

when i was getting ready to file for divorce i went to my bible study group and said, "i think u all need to know that i'm filing for divorce" -- they sat there stunned -- not one of them knowing (except for the pastor) that that was even in the cards. and y -- because in the three years i'd been going there i hadn't once shared that i was having problems -- good christians rn't supposed to have marital problems -- r they?

well, here's a reality check -- good christians do have marital issues -- they probably have more than most because they feel they need to "hide" it and therefore don't seek out help in the form of counseling or prayer. but when thinking about transparency, i realize that if more ppl in the body would expose their "issues" it might be a gateway for those who see their imperfections as something they need to hide to bring them out in the open where others can pray for them or lead them to help. how can someone be praying for another when they don't know that the other even needs prayer?

of course, part of the problem here is that ppl r afraid to expose their sin for fear of being judged or ousted from the body. and that fear is justified in my view because christians can be extremely judgmental and self-righteous ppl. its unfortunate, because when i see ppl come into the church off the street and then compare themselves with these same said judgmental and self-righteous types, they fall very short and feel unworthy to even be in a house of god.

a few years ago, i counted myself among those who were not worthy to be there. i could see all my flaws -- they were so glaring -- and felt that god would never accept me as i was, that i wasn't worthy to be there and the feeling of judgment was high. it would have been easy to walk away from it and from god, but papa is amazing and he kept pulling me back and attaching ppl to me to pull me back. every time i would get close to that edge of the abyss, they would be there to remind me that i was the daughter of a king and there was nothing i could do to earn papa's love -- because it was a gift freely given. and for me, learning this has opened up my life for everybody to see my "ick", a chance for me to let down my mask and let others see my struggles so that they will know they r not alone, but that they r still immeasurably loved by papa god, regardless.

i worry about those who come to church and see all these "blameless" and "perfect" ppl and feel unworthy to be there. i know how it feels to be judged and found wanting and thinking i should just walk away now because i'll never "measure up" to that appearance of perfection (false perfection) that i see before me. and how can that be in any way comforting to someone who doesn't know about papa's unconditional agape love -- who sees us as his children and loves us through our flaws?

after this man at church revealed this, i went up to him and thanked him for being so open and willing to share -- because i had it on my heart that one of the great flaws of the church was that it wasn't willing to be transparent -- that it felt this need to set itself apart as something perfect or better than the rest of the population. we've been warned in romans 12 to not be proud but be willing to associate with all ppl and to not be conceited. to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

if we r to live in harmony with one another, to love and pray for each other, than we need to be "real" with each other -- flaws and all. as uncomfortable as that might make u, how can u be anything less than that. we're to help others come to know papa's love and that means understanding that papa loves us 'warts and all'. and that love is for everyone -- not just a few "elite" ppl who pretend "perfection".

the native americans have a saying about getting to know someone by walking a mile in their moccasins. its a great gift -- walking around in someone's life and seeing what they have gone through, what they r going through, beginning to understand them more and more, knowing how u can help them, pray for them -- and them doing the same for u. that can only happen when we share with each other, when we r open and transparent with one another. peaceful existence comes from knowing all the ick about someone and still loving them -- not putting urself above them or wishing to control or manipulate them -- but praying for them and guiding them -- its a back and forth exchange.

try being transparent -- christian or not -- and see how it opens up ur life.... u might discover than ur not alone in some of what ur going through -- that someone else has gone through that and come out the other side (encouraging) or has some solid advice for what they have been through that can guide u in ur struggle. its an amazingly freeing feeling ....


Inge' said...

I really enjoyed this post. It is obvious that God has been doing a major work in your life.

I agree with your thoughts on the body and confession. I think that we get stagnant in our walk with God. We become sour and bitter because we have decided that we do not need to grow in Christ anymore. This cause us to judge our brothers and sisters much too harshly. We forget that if it weren't for the grace of God, we would be totally lost. When someone comes forward and openly confesses, this can bring our own sin to the front of our minds. Rather than deal with our own sin as our brother/sister has, we make them the outcast.
It is a sad situation within the church and unfortunately, not one to change quickly unless we turn our hearts and minds back to God.

BINA said...

thank u for ur comments. it is a sad situation within the church that there isn't the openess -- which then would allow for healing within the body of christ. i do believe that praying and support and encouraging who do step forward is part of the answer. and obviously, the more ppl can step out in this, the easier it will become to do for those who fear judgement and ridicule.
i really appreciated the man at our church who stepped forward -- not only was it helpful to those who suffered from the same issues, but it was a great testimony to how papa god was working in his life.