This is going to sound off putting for a moment, but bear with me till the end. I have often wished that Churches operated more like a soul Emergency room, and less like tea houses with dress codes. Don’t misunderstand me, I love my church. I’ve been to many, and this is the only one that I couldn’t walk away from. Not because of personal connections, but because I believe in the very foundation of it. There is a whole lot that branches off from there and people have their own varying interpretations, but the core is where I stand.
This song plays through my mind on repeat. In the very deepest core of me, I wished this is the way it worked all the time. Before you go reading any further, I want you to know I’m chastising myself as I write this. My posts are just as much for me as anyone reading them. I’ve found it to be healing to write out what God impresses on my mind. It gives me a way to go back and remind myself of the lessons I find myself re learning over and over in my life. When I heard this song over a year ago, it started a flood of thoughts within my mind. It’s affected my perspective in a good way and every time I hear it, it re humbles me.
After my first baby was born, I had a 5 day post partum body, that somewhat resembled a beaten hippopotamus piñata. I remember with the tangled hormones, lack of sleep, terrible soreness, and the fact that absolutely nothing fit…I was seriously having a meltdown over what it would look like if I walked into church with my maternity sweatpants and barf on my husbands size XL tee. What if I just went like that and said, Look… it was either I wore this or the couch slipcover. My son was going to be blessed by my Dad and my Father in law that morning. They are both ministers, and my Dad was in from out of town and the opportunity window was open. I sat on the edge of my bed in tears over how I looked. I was horribly uncomfortable in my foreign body, and I was sweating buckets at the distress of finding something, “church appropriate” to wear. My mom was awesome and ran to Target early that morning with my sister and they bought me a really baggy black sweater with a collar on it. It worked and even blended with my maternity skirt. Why did I get to this level of stress? I did because I was afraid of falling short of a standard I felt I had to measure up to. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone’s expectations of me. I was already feeling insecure as a new mom and pretty much insecure about everything else too. What if I don’t look the part of glowing new mother with her perfectly coiffed baby? What if they think I’m huge because this 7 lb baby came out and rudely left 33 lbs behind? What if I can’t stop sweating and I look like a mess because of these hormones? What if I cry because I’m way overly emotional and exhausted and I look like an emotionally unstable new mom? What if? what if? what if? I was terrified of being judged and I felt my inadequacy.
It’s sad that I think this is normal. What lays under each person’s well executed smile? What terrible fears, wounds, pain, need, loneliness, and anxiety, lay hidden within us? What if we could read minds like God can? Can you imagine the worried thoughts that swirl around a full congregation? What if … fill in the blank. What if they only knew that I feel completely alone? What if they knew one of our kids is struggling? What if they knew we are drowning in financial ruin? What if they knew our marriage hangs by a thread? What if they knew I am so depressed that I thought about ending it? What if they knew I was mentally ill? What if they knew I don’t even know if I believe in God? What if they knew the terrible sin I committed? Can you imagine?
It’s an astoundingly beautiful and amazing thing, that God knows and still wants us right there. He doesn’t care about preconceived notions about dress code or service order. God is in full awareness of these deep real soul sicknesses. We all sustain spiritual wounds…some fatal, and struggles in faith and belief. He is there to treat the wounded. To heal the sick. To raise the spiritually dead. He doesn’t care if you are coming in your wet swim trunks, so as long as you have a deep real desperate calling to run to God for his blessings and forgiveness. He wants us there even if we are a mess. This knowledge keeps me squealing into our church parking lot, in our Honda pilot soul ambulance, and dragging all of us circus freaks into that spiritual hospital, even if we look like a mess.
We sometimes live in a state of fear that if our sin was revealed, it will be held against us. It’s a real concern. As a teenager I was gravely sick with an eating disorder. I was terrified that people would figure it out. What if they knew that I had lied thousands of times to hide it? How long would their doubts about me, stay over my head? I can tell you that I got comments long after I was well. Often I recognized the look of doubt or insecurity written on the face of someone I’d just told that I was doing well. I don’t blame them, I would worry too if I’d been in their shoes. I was not a bad teenager. I didn’t have ill intent toward anyone. I was a lost teenager at times and I made some epically stupid decisions. I knew I was occasionally perceived to be a mess. The need to prove myself was very difficult.
This happens. We think we need to prove something. The even uglier side of it, is that sometimes I’ve found myself feeling self righteous enough to think someone else needed to prove themselves to me. Thats an ugly confession I am laying it out right here. How dare I? I am constantly reminding myself that another’s sin, was a sin against God and not me. I have no right to feel I’m owed a single thing. It’s God’s and not mine. I’m not saying that my church operates this way…but I’ve found personally that sometimes my own soul does. Sometimes my own staunch ways of seeing things, actually cloud my eyes and judgement. We are supposed to confess our faults to each other, but how can we with this human line of operating? If we are going to be able to confess our faults to one another, we are going to have to be spiritually mature enough to handle those confessions.
- Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
1st John 1: 8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I don’t think that means we all need to stand up and in gory detail, rehash our every infraction. I do however think this means that humility is completely crucial, when something is confided in us. We need to be able to confess our struggles and to forgive each other for those struggles, all while we dedicate real time to praying for that person’s soul.
For some reason, this is easier when weakness is kept within the confines of close friendship, and so much harder when weakness is made public. It’s almost a gang mentality once doubt is allowed to be voiced and shared. I’ve seen people confess something and be treated like a black sheep thereafter. Why is that? Is it because it allows us to deflect and minimize our own sin in the shadow of their “huge” sin? I think pride can sneak in, and have it’s way with us, and before we know it, we are ranking sin and feeling much safer about our own,”little sins.”
Keeping a clear thought process is not always easy. In a soul hospital, it’s alarmingly easy to be repulsed by someones spiritual leprosy, and forget we ourselves have spiritual ebola.
Proverbs 16:2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.
The wages of all sin is death.
- For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
My best friends, are the friends I share my struggles with. The ones I call when I’m freaking out over something. The friends that I can do nothing with and pray with. I don’t need to impress them. The level of comfort where you have messy hair, no makeup, sweaty clothes, a cluttered house, the imperfect is embraced and the real me sits there. My regular no frills soul, just sits exposed and it’s okay. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have that kind of friendship in my life. These are my people. The souls that know my ugly, my insecurity, and my struggles, and I know theirs. I trust them with an outstanding kind of trust. It’s funny how when you love someone very much, their imperfections are not a deal breaker. You know they exist. You try to be there when they are struggling and when they need the right kind of encouragement and accountability. Above all, you love them in spite of those shortcomings. It has made me think differently about a particular verse.
1st Peter 4:8
- And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
Charity covers a multitude of sins because charity is such a pure and unfailing love, that grace exists there, even covering the ugliest of qualities. Loving someone in spite of their frailties. I know I can trust them because they aren’t going to yank my spiritual pants down in front of everyone and share my most personal things.
Proverbs 11:13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
God does this for us. His grace covers a multitude of sins. Even at our best, we have weakness and God knows that and He loves us anyway. He knows our spiritual achilles heel’s and He know’s our spiritual trick knee & bad back. God sees the ugliest of ugly, and He doesn’t cower in the least. He looks deep within us, and when He knows we are sorry and too ashamed to look up at Him, and He sees all of our wounds exposed…He is there to help.
Confessing our faults also works because we pray for each other to overcome those weaknesses. We present each other to the Great Physician for strength and healing. He is open 24/7 and the doctor is in. When I find myself in a position to be of aide to someone who is less wounded than myself, I better be helping them and not standing back just watching them suffer. I can pray, I can be someone for them to safely confide in and lean on.
You guys know I’m not perfect. Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine. Love can heal what hurt divides. Mercy is waiting on the other side…if we’re honest.