I’m reading this book called “The Cure” and it speaks a lot about a raw authenticity that not many of us normally walk in. God always seems to do this funny thing where I end up reading a book that exactly coincides with something he’s been teaching me for a while that I was blind to. If I actually think back, this journey started a few years ago when I went to Youth With A Mission. I had to fill out an application to be accepted, and a friend had to fill out a reference in sort. He had to write about my strengths and weaknesses; I remember him saying something along the lines of “I couldn’t think of any weaknesses.” At first, that felt really good to hear. However, throughout the next couple months I began to realize that was actually really alarming. One of my best friends couldn’t think of one weakness I had (and there are plenty). How could this even be possible? Looking back, I think my smokescreen was so thick I really didn’t show any weaknesses at all to others. The past few years have been an interesting process of God stripping off those masks and teaching me to be painfully authentic.
First of all, our society does not value true authenticity or weakness. Culture screams to keep your issues quiet and don’t bother others with them. Whether we realize it or not, most of us have underlying ideas about authenticity that include: raw vulnerability is really just weakness, people will view you negatively if they know who you really are, and no one really cares to hear about your issues. I think these ideas infiltrate our minds and cause us to wear masks so thick we forget that they are even there. The book says “If we see needs as weaknesses, we’ll hide our limitations and call it self-reliance. Or we’ll pretend we have no needs and call it independence.” This is rampant in the church. We think because we know Jesus, we should have it all together. Or we just don’t understand why we aren’t perfect yet, and we are too ashamed to be real.
The book also makes the point that if we never show others who we truly are, then we can never be confident that we are loved because others are merely seeing a masked, fake version of us. Of course others can love that perfect version of you that you allow them to see. But will others love you if they know those awful thoughts you have or that secret sin that you aren’t quite ready to give up? Of course I would recommend being cautious in who you choose to share your whole self with, but I believe the answer is yes. Have you ever met someone who seemed so perfect and intimidating to you, only to find out later some struggle they have? I have. It makes them more human, more relatable. We have this idea that strength isn’t struggling, but what if strength is the courage to show yourself to others where you truly are not where you “should” be or hope to be.
Currently I have a few friends that I am learning this lesson with. Our relationship started when we began a bible study from our gym. We grew closer throughout all the nights eating dinner and sharing. They are new believers, so there was this weird pressure to be a good example. I mean it’s good to care about being a good witness, but I wouldn’t allow myself to be super real with them because I wanted to set a good example of what living like Christ meant. Somewhere along the way I started believing subconsciously that their growth in Christ was dependent on how great of a Christian I could appear to be. I think this is such a dangerous mindset. The bible says strive to be holy, and I am not discounting that at all. However, we have to be real with those around us. God has graciously allowed me to walk with them on their journey, but their growth has nothing to do with how “good” I am. It has been a painful lesson. God has taken me to depths of authenticity with them that I never would have imagined. It’s painful to admit when your heart is bad and you have bad motives. It’s hard to admit that you need help from others. I have sobbed and admitted things to them that I could barely bare to admit to myself. I wanted to be there for them, but they’ve ended up being there for me just as much. The book says “But what if, instead, there was a friend so safe that the worst aspects of me could be known? I would not be loved less, but actually loved more by opening up.” It’s so humbling. Guys, people see Christ when you are real. It actually glorifies Him more when we are weak. That’s the beauty of the gospel. We are a hot mess, but Jesus is made known through us.
2 Corinthians 12:9 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.
When we can finally open up and be honest with ourselves and others, we can truly accept love. The book says “The cost of vulnerability is incredibly high. But what comes next is worth the risk.” “It turns miserably self-sufficient strivers into wonderfully released receivers.”
Read more from LCC member, Haley Goodfellow, on her blog: https://haleygoodfellow.wordpress.com/