In today’s world of technology, we can easily hide behind images and pictures (some even improved with the help of filter effects).
No, this article isn’t about bashing Facebook or Instagram. I have accounts on both, and am not intending to get rid of either any time soon. Nevertheless, in our modern world we have all the resources available to live in sin without anyone ever knowing. On the weekends we attend congregation, act as if everything is okay, and then go home and deal with the same problems. In the meantime we post pictures of landscapes and hanging out with friends. Everyone is sure that everything is just fine. But, deep down inside, there may be a feeling of depression, failure or something “missing” which won’t give us rest.
Recently God has been challenging me to choose honesty, authenticity and vulnerability in my relationships. To choose not to hide my real feelings, but rather to say things as they are. For many years as a believer, I would use only “nice” words in my prayers, words that seem faith-filled, even if they didn’t connect with what was really going on inside my heart. I realized it was as if I was hiding my true feelings from God. Then He invited me to be honest and real with Him. After all, He knows the thoughts of my heart even before they are on my lips. “The Lord knows the thoughts of a man, that they are but a breath” (Psalm 94:11).
God is inviting us all to be honest and open-hearted with Him. “Do good, oh Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts” (Psalm 125:4). When we choose to walk uprightly before God, we actually invite Him to work in the dark places inside us. No one actually wants to stay in one place; we were all made for movement, growth, change and development. I doubt whether anyone begins a new job in an entry position without looking forward to the day when he will be promoted. God wants to promote us. He wants to work in us and through us. He wants to do good to those who are upright. When we choose honesty and vulnerability before God, He will show up and begin to change us on the inside.
A few months ago I joined a group of believers who chose to build a core, or seed, of communal life together. We want to grow together and encourage one another to deepen our spiritual life in the Lord, to corporately hear from God and combat the plague of individualism that ravages the Western world today. We committed to live in accountability, honesty and vulnerability with one another. We meet almost every day to worship, pray, learn, laugh, share testimonies together and bring our daily struggles to the light. We come both to give and to receive.
One thing I discovered since our mutual committing to one another, is that the way my personal process with the Lord is, the same goes for our corporate process as a group. I began to be honest, real and vulnerable towards the other group members, and an amazing thing then happened. First, instead of the judgement I expected, I was actually accepted. Through choosing vulnerability and honesty, I allowed not only God to come in and heal, but also others to be part of that process. The process itself became deeper and more impacting. Suddenly I knew that other people were invested in my own success. Although I know this is not the first time I am dealing with negative feelings, this time, thanks to the vulnerability, openness and honesty towards others, I feel that there is hope, and that the growth and change will have greater impact.
I want to encourage you, first of all in your relationship with God. Don’t be afraid to be real, honest and vulnerable with Him. Don’t be afraid to invite Him into your past, your present and to let Him show you your future. Don’t be afraid of believing that He is a good Father who cares about every part of your life. Open yourself and invite Him in to transform you.
Also, I would like to encourage each one of you to find a “community” to walk with. If you don’t have a group of people who really know you, it doesn’t matter whether you are a pastor, have been walking with the Lord for many years, or have just come to faith. You need people that you can just be yourself around, the kind of people who don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and getting into the “dirty laundry” of your life. You need people you feel safe enough to expose the thoughts in your heart, and who are there to listen to your inner feelings. You need people that you can laugh with and encourage each other forward. “Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).