(Or, in other words, welcome to the sometimes-crazy-almost-random side of my brain.)
There’s this thing in the blogging world that crops up every once in a while. Although it goes by different names, it all boils down to one thing in the end . . . being real.
Every once in a while, people will post posts that talk about their failure to write because of fear—fear of censure, or fear that they aren’t cut out to do what they’re doing, or another of the one hundred and one reasons that, in the end, simply mean that they haven’t—or haven’t been willing to—“face up”.
To be quite honest, I really, really admire those people. Whenever they post a post like that, they’re opening themselves up to the whole world, saying “nope, I’m not perfect and yes, it’s okay if you turn your guns on me too.”
That takes courage.
But I have to wonder—even if they do dedicate themselves to being real, to sharing the hard, genuine, sometimes even harsh truths about themselves and their world, how long is it going to stay that way? What about all their previous writings—does that mean they weren’t presenting their true “selves” then, but instead were presenting the mask that they want others to see and know them by?
I can’t answer those questions.
I can say, however, that sharing the real stuff—who you really are underneath—is sometimes incredibly difficult. Okay, to tell you the truth—sometimes I wonder who I, myself, really am! Why did I decide to do it that way? What’s my hidden driving motive? Is it the true me that’s doing this, or my desire to please someone else?
I’m committed to sharing things the way they are; not the way I’d like them to be or the way I believe others would like to see them. I don’t always get there, but that’s my goal.
So what about you? Are you committed to being real too? How do you share the “real” side?
Ross Taylor says
Having just not long ago responded to your other blog, I came across this one from you – which is very much along the lines of what I was referring to in my response. As I’m currently lying in bed with a kidney stone the size of a small country, I’ve got time to respond, and I trust that you will appreciate my musings, as I appreciate yours. If not, well, at least reading them will not be as painful for you as a kidney stone is for me! 😉
I have been a part of churches which appeared to have the highest standard, and a code for morality that would even make an Amish girl consider herself immoral in contrast. I’ve watched as such moral codes turn into legalism, and the proceed, as a python, to strangle the soul of the people in the church, and destroy them. People fall, reject their faith, turn to the world for solace. Some run into the arms of a stranger, turn to alcohol or drugs. Some to things that are ‘sins unto death’.
I’ve also been involved in churches which were running from morality. “Brethren, ye are called unto liberty!” is their cry, but they use that liberty as an ‘occasion to the flesh’. In such churches I see little in the way of spiritual growth, and nothing in the way of eternal security in Christ. From both I feel ostracised.
Often, people in the first group judge harshly the people in the second, quickly identifying their lack of moral fibre, the absence of their devotion to the commandments of God. They also judge the people in the world by the standard to which they attempt to hold themselves. Whilst quick to identify the shortcomings in the others, they often fail to see that they themselves have also failed. Their hands are fully laden with boulders, ready to be heaved in the direction of their fallen brother.
The people in the second group recognise the legalism in the first, but not the absence of virtue in themselves. They spend their time partying because they are ‘free’… but from what, they cannot say. Why? Because even their righteous deeds remain as filthy rags.
I have been a part of each church type, and failed in both. I’ve also failed in the world, and failed in the ‘self righteous club’. I have failed to join the self-righteous throngs of the first group, and I failed to enjoy the rapturous freedom of the second. I failed to enjoy the ‘pleasures of sin’ in the world, even for a season, although I did experience them. I have failed to find peace in religion, in science or in philosophy or in family or friends. Art, music – though beautiful, left me bereft of contentment. I found myself echoing the thoughts of ‘the Preacher’ when he said “Vanity of vanities! ALL is vanity and vexation of Spirit!”
I have found something though, in two distinct places. The one we have already discussed, and a hymn expresses it better than I could:
Once FAR from God, and dead in sin,
No light my soul could see!
But in God’s Word, The LIGHT I found,
Now Christ Liveth in me!
Christ Liveth in me, Christ Liveth in me,
Oh what a salvation this! That Christ liveth in me!
Yes, that is one place that I found something. So that the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who died, and gave himself for me. Whilst I was yet a sinner, Christ died for the ungodly. Thats really something!
But I have found something somewhere else too. And I’m going to tell you about it, because it’s part of the ‘being real’ aspect of your current blog.
What is it, when you meet someone, and there is everything that you share with that person, in common…. and yet there is no connection. Think of a church group maybe. You all worship the same God. You all believe similarly. You all have morals, presumably. You all subscribe to the same ideals and faith. But maybe there is no connection. Maybe the people there you would not ‘choose’ as friends. They should be your ‘brothers and sisters’ but it feels more like a funeral than a family. What is lacking?
Now imagine that you are me, working at Social Welfare. You work with a person who is not a Christian. She has short hair, she doesn’t wear a head covering. She is a career woman. She is assertive, dominant. Every conversation with this person becomes a discussion. Every discussion is frustrating, because you’re evenly skilled in debating. She has a wisdom that you find intriguing. You each have your strong ideals. You have nothing in common. But there is such a connection. It’s healthy and it brings out the best in both of you.
Over many years, you watch every aspect of her life crumble and every illusion of her strength fail. Equally, she sees your stubbornness, your surety, your arrogance fail completely, until all that is left in each of you are broken pieces of humanity, less the artificial supports of self righteousness and pride.
Despite all of that, your friendship grows because all that has REAL-ly happened is that the obstructions to a clear view of the REAL person have diminished, and what is now visible is the REAL kernel of wheat at the heart of the soul of each of you. She inevitably becomes a Christian. And you are reborn as one. Then you realise something.
What was it that attracted you both to each other in the first place? Why did she become dominant, assertive and determined? Why did you become prideful and arrogant? In all reality, both were responses to the hurts that a Godless world had inflicted upon you during your youth and childhood. They were defences. Man-made defences against a world, designed to escalate you to greatness, and deflect every scrap of pain along the way.
But each one failed. Completely, but only after initially giving you a false sense of security.
The Bible says that if we fall upon Him, we will be broken. But if He falls upon us, we will be ground to powder. Each one of our strengths becomes a weakness, but His strength is made PERFECT in our weakness. If we continue in Him, then when we see Him, we will be like Him.
You talk about being real. Well, the only reality that I know of is when all of our defences, masks and man-made supports are removed from us. Our vices, our falsehoods, our ‘second-bests’ are discarded; our ambitions, hopes, dreams incinerated, in favour of a complete surrender to Him who made all things. Jesus said “Come unto Me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden. Take MY yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek, I am lowly of heart. If you do that, you’ll find the rest to your souls.”
All those years ago, the reason that there was a connection there, was because despite the presence of so much decaying detritus and humanity, there was a seed there and the seed was the heritage of being a potential son of God. Perhaps that is what was lacking in the church contacts. I have learned that every church has three types of believers; True believers, false believers and make believers. It takes time for the three to be made obvious. But what I find interesting is that when I look back to the churches that I have been part of, almost none of the people who judged me then, and with whom I could not connect back then, are Christians today.
I think that says something, and to me it provides a very real definition of what being ‘real’ is. Being ‘Real’ is about being a vessel of honour for God, irrespective of where you are, or what you are doing. It’s being honest to know that without Him, we would be nothing. And therefore we should not compromise with sin to relate to the world, but nor should we condemn and avoid the world. Rather, we should be an expression of God to the world, because, God became REAL to us, whilst we were yet sinners. We should maintain our standard, but not let our standard define us. Rather, let Him be our definition, our source and our goal.
Reality: the revelation of who we are in Christ, and who we were without Him.
In loving-kindness Jesus came
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me.
From sinking sand He lifted me,
With tender hand He lifted me,
From shades of night to plains of light,
Oh, praise His name, He lifted me!
He called me long before I heard,
Before my sinful heart was stirred,
But when I took Him at His word,
Forgiv’n, He lifted me.
His brow was pierced with many a thorn,
His hands by cruel nails were torn,
When from my guilt and grief, forlorn,
In love He lifted me.
Now on a higher plane I dwell,
And with my soul I know ’tis well;
Yet how or why, I cannot tell,
He should have lifted me.
Ross Taylor says
I just re-read your blog, and my response which I’d for gotten about. It’s strange how both were so relevant to me today and a real help. I even found my response helpful! lol Thanks Esther 🙂