13
Jun

The Honest Truth and Yes, That’s Redundant…

shame

Warning: War and Peace was shorter.

Today I had every intention of discussing that God seems to have me on a bent of reading books about death, even though I don’t actively chose such books! But, I feel God pulling me in another direction, so I hope you will indulge me (I’m sure I will get around to the intended topic eventually!). What might prompt me to get off-topic? (Generally, not a whole lot is needed–just ask my family and friends!) Honesty. Yes, honesty.

Enter a book called Chasing CharlieI found this book in late December and considered making it the MIP Book Club selection for February. But Chasing Charlie is rather long and probably not a good selection for the Book Club as a result. However, I do feel you need to know about this surprising book and how it relates to honesty.

At first I thought Chasing Charlie was going to be about 2 FBI agents not unlike the ones depicted on the popular TV series, Criminal Minds. And at the point when Chasing Charlie came into my life I needed such a diversion reading-wise! In fact 2 of the agents fall in love with each other. Even better for a much-needed distraction, if you ask me!

But perhaps the most refreshing quality of the book that I had not anticipated was that, unlike so many espionage action thriller novels these days, several of the main characters, one-by-one, decide that they need the Lord. They each had resisted going to church for the typical reasons in our society and had formed several bad habits in the process. But, the book never gets “preachy” and the characters never push religion on each other. This would make it far different from a lot of Christian novels I’ve been reading! In other words, they approach this slow, gradual re-adoption of faith like most “former Christians” might do that. There are no overnight epiphanies and no people practically cajoling them into faith. Just little by little, they realize they need a relationship with the Lord for particular things they are facing in their lives. And like most of us, the bad habits don’t instantaneously go away. Some days they are really good at not pursuing those bad habits; some days they cave completely, despite their new-found faith. Even better, they admit defeat when it’s obvious they can’t hide the truth from others anymore.

Several have said that what they appreciate about my writing is that I’m blatantly honest about the stupidity that is my life on most days. Believe it or not, there are things I don’t share here (not many, mind you, but there are!). But, I have never understood why we don’t openly and honestly discuss our human frailties. It says in the Good Book, “For all have sinned…” In other words all of us goof up somewhere. So, why would we not just admit that we struggle in some areas and get on with dealing with these things? Because, our social media world often condemns us when we do. I am well aware that there are many who think I’m a fool because I am so honest about being lazy, caffeine-addicted, selfish, loud, verbose and often prone to eating too much food. (Trust me, I could go on!) It used to worry me, but now not so much.

The longer I’m on the planet the more I realize that “For all have sinned…” really is true. Even if someone always looks like the perfect little person, there is something about their lives that plagues them–sometimes it’s that they don’t realize that there is something that plagues them. But, eventually the truth comes out and often in a very embarrassing, public way. And then the public considers them fools or calls them fools.

But, have no fear–we’re in good company. Jesus’ own people from his own village considered him a fool. Heck, one of his own disciples so thought Him a fool that He deliberately conspired against Him.  Many who followed Him from village to village thought Him a fool enough to eventually quit following Him. The scholars and ministers of His day even thought He was weird and criminal. And all Jesus was doing was being honest.

So, obviously we fear we will lose the respect of our fellow man and fellow citizens if we admit to imperfection. But, I think we also think that Christians are supposed to be good role models, so when we’re imperfect, we’re providing a really bad “testimony” of what a Christian life looks like. But, notice that God actually likes us being honest. Remember the publican and the poor person in the Temple? The publican made a real pretense about pretending to be perfect, but the poor person was so honest about his sinful nature that it drew unwanted attention and a lot of nasty judgment from other onlookers. But Jesus said that the poor person’s honest display was the one that would garner help and attention from God–not the person who seemingly had it all “together.” Both had faith, but God rewarded the one with a more honest relationship with God.

Unfortunately, being honest today could lead to criminal or civil action against us. Thus, we live in a society where few ever take responsibilities for their actions, particularly at work. I know many fine Christian lawyers and even a few good legislators, but honestly, both vocations often create a society where everyone fears taking responsibility for their actions in case they are sued or sent to jail. It’s a legitimate fear and one to be seriously considered.

Even Jesus acted cautiously if He knew it wasn’t “His time” to be somewhere where His honesty could land Him in jail and keep Him from telling how people can have eternal life and a better life here on Earth. Eventually, despite knowing it was going to be painful, He takes the ridicule and punishment of an unjust society. Perhaps that’s what we should remember: when society punishes us for our honesty, it’s because they are already corrupt themselves (For all have sinned!) and thus, them being judgmental about our behavior is more about them and less about us. That doesn’t mean we should go out and deliberately break the law! It means we can relax when the law doesn’t square with being a reflection of God’s mercy. And thus, we should rely upon God to handle their wrath for us and go on bravely admitting the truth and sharing God’s great gift for being willing to do that once we trust in Him.

What, MaryAnn? You’re saying I need to be honest even if it leads to my ruin, my family’s ruin and lands me in jail or worse, sentences me to an early death? Ummm….gulp…yeah. I didn’t say it was easy. 🙂 And I didn’t say I don’t struggle with that.

But, when I’m not being honest, when I’m not subjecting myself to the punishment of a corrupt world because of fear, aren’t I also saying that I’m not totally trusting my God to see me through whatever is in store for me as a result of my honesty? And it’s probably better, even from a corrupt world perspective, to “come clean” than to hide things, and then have that corrupt world dig up the truth from the deep recesses of our lives.

Finally, I think we hide the truth from each other because we know, all too well, what pathetic beings we really are. As a result, we try to create facades of greatness for ourselves so that we feel a little better about our pathetic-ness. At least I know it’s true of me! And the more I try to make myself seem wonderful to others, the more I fail at it! It becomes a vicious circle and I wind up becoming even more pathetic! And being pathetic is no fun to face in the morning mirror. We hide from ourselves as well as the rest of the world.

I’m trying really hard to learn not to think of myself as pathetic and in need of self-promotion, but as a typical human servant of God. Some days I do well at being a servant; other days I fail miserably. Some days I get to share the part of myself that reflects the gifts and talents He has sent my way and other days my worst faults are the only part of me that prevail for all the world to see. But God actually delights in that because it gives Him a reason to exist in our lives. We wouldn’t need a Jesus if we were perfect and our lives would be so boring without a Jesus!

I would like to suggest that if we all admitted our failings, most people would probably ultimately respect us for that honesty and would forgive us. In fact it might be refreshing for them and give them the impetus to do the same. We might even convince a few government leaders to do the same. And if we do that, we might change the world for the better.

So, my dear reader, will you be my “honesty partner” and help establish a new “world order”? 🙂

Point to Ponder 1: What about yourself is weighing you down internally? Is it so embarrassing that you can’t even admit it fully to yourself? Been there, done that! Start an “honesty journal” and just jot down what’s bugging you…honestly! Keep writing every day until you “release” all the things that bug you onto paper. When you feel that you have exhausted all the things that you feel guilty or shame about onto those journal pages, remind yourself that God sent Jesus to this world to permanently erase all that stupidity, once and for all! So, go burn that journal as a symbol of your freedom that comes from a loving God! (Be safe about doing this, please! Don’t do it where there are burn bans, you Texans!)

Point to Ponder 2:  Confess to God anything that is still bugging you in the guilt and shame department. Remind yourself that God isn’t upset about it–YOU are. God forgave it a long time ago. When it still bugs you, that means it’s a faith problem, not an honesty problem! (If only I could remember this on a regular basis!) Ask God to remind you that He can still use you, imperfect as you are to help others and make the world a better place. That’s why He chose you! That’s why He died for you! You are worth that to Him! Ask Him to remind you of these things when you let shame and guilt about your imperfections gain the upper hand.

Point to Ponder 3: If something is still weighing you down, consider discussing it with a trusted person. Can you tell your spouse? Can you tell your parent? Can you tell a good friend? Can you tell your pastor? Can you tell a counselor? (The latter two are bound by confidentiality!) Sometimes the only way to release the power of shame and guilt in our lives is to freely admit it to someone else that will still consider us a decent human being afterwards. You’re just too cool if you can manage this! Pat yourself on the back for being so brave!

Monday’s Post: Word of the Week Time!

You Might Also Like: Eulogy for a Brother and Best Quotes from the Dallas Women of Faith Conference

 

 

 

This entry was posted on Friday, June 13th, 2014 at 10:50 am and is filed under God stuff. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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