Yes, this post is a tough one, friends.
Before I share, let me remind anyone reading this that everything I write is what I feel the Spirit of the Lord nudging me to say. Especially when I have some hard to share, I go to Him in prayer first, to make sure I am in the right place with Him before I do so.
The other thing I want to remind everyone of is the fact that any and everything I say, is typically stuff I am dealing with as an individual. If it also applies to you, that is AWESOME. But know that I share the hard along with the smooth because it has to do with lessons that our Lord Jesus Christ is teaching me.
What is true edification of the body of believers and followers after Christ anyway? Is it just the shiny, sparkly, feel-good stuff that builds one another up and helps create feelings of unity and bliss through the beauty of it all? Or is it also the other the stuff that lies on the other side of the coin?
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15
That’s my life verse, friends. That is my calling.
Yeah….I think the other side is just as important as the “up” side, don’t you? And, quite frankly, I think we neglect to take care of both sides of the coin when it comes to edification of the church.
I find that we either err too far on one side more than the other far too often.
Sometimes, it’s the side of “hey, let’s share all the good and positive stuff about being Christians with one another.” You know? Stuff like…..
- Keep it to yourself if it doesn’t sound or feel good.
Be patient – always. Never feel restless. Or at least, if you do, certainly never share it. You’ll bring people down! (Yo…that’s scientology, not Christianity, by the way).
Make sure you don’t admit your imperfections or mistakes. If you do, make it sound holy or something. (You get the drift).
Or what about the other side of it? Maybe we spend all of our time commiserating and complaining together and never praising and celebrating all of our many blessings?
- Nobody understands us because we are so persecuted, you know.
The devil made me do it – or made you do it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
Condemnation, condemnation, condemnation. Fear, fear, fear.
But I think the tough part comes into play when we not only realize we need to do both things – )rejoice with one another AND weep with one another), but when we find that it’s really, really hard to step first – really, really lonely to feel like you are constantly taking the risks and not sure if you will still be seen as “Christian” by your fellow believers. I’ve been there so many times in the past year and I’ve watched so many others struggling in that very same place.
Something is very wrong about that!
I for one, experience a mixture of things surrounding this issue lately. On one hand, I have seen more grace and compassion exhibited in the Christian world I am directly involved in than I have in quite some time. On the other hand, I see the enemy trying to cloud up any endeavor towards transparency in the church that He possibly can.
It’s a tough one – this particular spiritual battle we are facing. It’s not a new one – not by any stretch of the imagination. But it is evolving constantly – and getting trickier and more deceitful by the day. Rough and tough. Ugly and deceitful.
I must admit – this brings me down. Waaayyyy down, at times. And for a person like me, it’s difficult to hide it.
Did you see what I just wrote though? I wrote “hide it.”
Therein lies the battle I personally experience in relation to this. Even knowing this stuff – even after already having been tuned into it over and over again by the Lord, I still fall prey to feeling pressure to hide it when once in a while I have a down day. The enemy is laughing his rear off right about now too. He loves it.
I have found that I have had to pray for the courage to be real and transparent when it comes to the days I am not finding the coin on the “up” side more and more lately. Ironically, I can also clearly see that even if uncomfortable about it, people crave this honesty. There is no doubt about that left for me at all!
I believe that’s because when we model that type of honesty – that willingness to be vulnerable – to show the ugly or the not-so-perfect – that it gives others a sense of relief, almost – “permission” if you will, to be honest themselves.
At least on the inside.
It gives others a sense of relief that maybe they aren’t the only ones who feel that way.
They just may not say it.
If and when you are the one in the position of saying it – of mustering up the courage to be fully transparent and honest about the tough stuff, and you can tell others feel that same way but for whatever reason (reasons of their own) aren’t about to say it, remember that you don’t need them to make you feel like you are only human too.
Jesus can do that for you. Nothing we go through is something that He didn’t experience to the fullest (suffering-wise) while walking this earth.
Seek to understand others.
Hard enough for most of us, eh?
But when not feeling understood yourself? Look to Jesus first.
Hopefully, a fellow believer and follower after Christ will also come along side of you and help you in your transparency and through your tough. But if not, we can always count on Him!
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9
What if you are the person on the other side of this? What if you are the one who is not feeling you can take that risk and be honest and transparent? What if you are the one who feels the same way, but can’t bring yourself to say anything?
Well, I am there too sometimes (I told you…I sometimes feel pressure to “hide it.”).
For me, what I do is I first ask the Lord “what is holding me back? Is it fear? Is it an attack? Is it sin? Am I keeping my “mask” on or trying to be the perfect role model? (which is not a perfect model at all).
After seeking and praying about that, my only suggestion is to surrender and allow the Lord to fully convict our hearts and breath in the answer as to what to do. If He is encouraging us to become more transparent, we must trust Him and then do it.
It takes courage and full reliance on Him, and make no mistake about it – we will be attacked – more than once!
I told you, this is a tough one.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
I am telling you now – I feel discouraged by all of this at times. But the great thing about it is, I don’t STAY discouraged. That verse above gives me the power and the renewal needed in my Spirit to get back up again.
Inside of the nooks and crannies of that tough lies the hard, yet beautiful, truth. I’ll take that any day over the easy and pretty little lies the enemy feeds us. I may not feel great about it for a time, but it’s so worth it once the storm subsides.
It’s going to get harder. There are going to be more difficult levels of tough to contend with if we commit ourselves fully to this, dear, dear friends. But are we soldiers committed to being salt and light in this world, amongst one another (fellow believers) as well as those who are walking in the dark? Are we?
That’s a question each of us must answer for ourselves, hopefully with God and His will for us in the depths of our hearts and minds. I hope that when we are indeed resistant, or trying to hide, it knaws at us from the inside out – I really do!
We aren’t going to bear good fruit if we don’t allow for the pruning. Pruning is not for the faint of heart, either. It takes vulnerability to become truly strong. Expressing vulnerability and being there for someone else who does so is part of the kind of love He emphasizes we not only show, but truly develop for one another deep down inside.
You are my friends if you do what I command.I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.This is my command: Love each other. John 15: 14-17
This takes action. Consistent and relentless action. Intentional action. This takes going far beyond quietly feeling it in our hearts and not saying anything about it. This takes daily renewal and input from our Savior and the subsequent refilling of the power that comes only from the Spirit He has placed inside of us!
Yes, this is a tough one. But it is the right one, the best one, and it IS the Jesus one.
That’s where I want for us to be – together.
Show some weakness today if He leads you to be courageous and do so. And know in that, you are manifesting His divine and glorious strength!
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9