So far, we’ve been talking about authenticity, vulnerability, imperfection, shame, identity, and glory. I had no idea this is what would come out when I started this blogging challenge. First off, I just want to tell you readers Thank You for your listening ear. Thank you for the encouragement some of you have given me, the honesty you’ve shared with me, the feedback on how this has all resonated with you. I am humbled and grateful for the fact that these unfurling thoughts have moved some of you to a place of vulnerability and a desire for connection and authenticity. Thanks for joining me in this. This post will probably be a multi-part situation. It will not resolve.
Mr. Uhler and I have had the privilege of being a part of a ministry through our church called Redemption Group. If you’re not familiar with it or haven’t experienced it yourself, It’s hard to explain. It’s a ten week small group commitment to a peer counseling situation where you open your heart, raw and naked before what is essentially a group of (same-sex) strangers and learn what God’s Redemption looks like for you. It’s intense. It’s painful. It’s beautiful. I highly recommend it. It’s an experience that has changed our lives and our marriage in deep ways. For ten weeks, guided by the story of God’s people through Exodus, you re-learn who God is and who you are. You learn what it ACTUALLY means that God can bring beauty from ashes, that He is big enough to handle our grossest sin, the darkest, most secret pain that we keep locked up and just don’t know what to do with. It is a journey into freedom, a journey into light. We have been able to go through this process both as participants and as leaders, and it’s on of the most spiritually fruitful things I’ve ever been a part of. It is a safe place to bring your sin or the sin that’s been committed against you into the light and understand that God is in that place with you. That He offers you a different name.
For some reason, many of us in the church have believed the lie that we have to be Good. That once we become a Christ-follower, we should just magically become shiny, happy people. What happens when we believe this is we try hard to earn our righteousness and salvation. We think we know better than that. We think we are more spiritually mature than to fall for that old-trick. But we keep our anger, our porn-addiction, our out-of-control spending, our self-sufficiency and idolatry way in the back of the closet. We just don’t know what to do with it. We say we believe Jesus came to save sinners, to rescue us and make us more like himself, that he loves us abundantly and gives us new life but He really can’t deal with OUR sin. The beauty of being a part of Redemption Group as a leader is that nothing surprises us anymore. Mr. Uhler and I are never shocked when we find out about someone’s affair, childhood abuse, addiction, or what have you. The world is full of broken people. The church is full of sinners.
I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t bear fruit in keeping with repentance, or that we should just continue living a life without Christ’s work being evidenced. But a sick tree cannot bear healthy fruit unless you dig out the diseased root, cut off the rotten limb. I believe part of that healing is being able to speak the truth to one another, being able to bring our wounded hearts into the light and taking away the power of darkness. The heart of the gospel is that God rescued us while we were still sinners- because of His great love and grace, not because we deserved it. This resonated with me (from The Cure): “This life in Christ is not about what I can do to make myself worthy of his acceptance, but about daily trusting what HE has done to make me worthy of His acceptance.” When we hide ourselves and refuse to risk being known, we aren’t walking in this truth. There is a friend who knows the worst of us and won’t run away. His name is Jesus. Great freedom is waiting to break open in our lives if we can admit to not having it all together, risk being vulnerable and letting people into our mess. That is how we get to experience MORE love, not more rejection. If we can believe that what HE says about us is true even on our worst days, won’t that free us to let go of seeking acceptance from or comparing ourselves with others? Even as I’ve been sitting here at this keyboard the last week or so I battle thoughts such as “don’t write that, everyone knows that already, it’s so obvious.” Or “whoa, reign it in girl, don’t put your heart out there quite so much, no one’s interested in what you have to say, people might think it’s a bit over the top.” But here I am, showing up again and following where He leads me.
Here is the part of the post I don’t really want to deal with. I don’t know how this will end, but it seems to be a theme God wants me to address in my life this year. Part of why I don’t want to write this is because I’m terribly afraid of being misunderstood. Ask my husband. I’m always saying “what I meant to say was….” Here goes: over the last few moths I have had people tell me that they are intimidated by me. I’ve heard that now and then over the course of my life, but the last six months I’ve probably heard it a half-dozen times from both men and women. And to be honest, I don’t understand it. It bothers me because clearly there is nothing in me that desires to intimidate. And when I’ve asked people for more understanding, usually they mention such things as my eloquence, my physical appearance, my outspokenness, how I seem to “have it all together.” Those of you who know me can stop laughing. You guys, I am not making this up. It truly baffles me. I fight with my husband, I yell at my children, I hardly ever clean out my fridge. I’m insecure about ridiculous things and I want you to like me. I know that I often share my opinions freely and boldly, and frequently God uses that gift to bless others. In my flesh I have also hurt people with my words and razor sharp tongue. I like to call it a superpower that can be used for good or evil. And people have called me beautiful. Movie-star beautiful. Psh. Some days I feel beautiful and some days I don’t, but why would that intimidate? I know that I have a role to play in this perception, but I’m starting to suspect that there is something more going on here. I think people don’t know what to do with someone who is comfortable with their strengths and honest about their weaknesses. Perhaps it has something to do with understanding our glory and God’s glory, that He delights in the way He made us and we can too. I could be wrong. There may be much more to this and I want to mine this vein. What do you think? Have you ever been intimidated by someone? Why did you feel that way? Have you ever been told you intimidate people?