Bits of Sweetness: What if we were real?

What if we were real?

Quiz time. What is the first thing you notice about someone? a)eyes  b)smile or teeth c)clothes or shoes or  d)hairstyle

What was your answer? What do you remember about the person later? You want to know mine? Confession: I'm not your typical girl (I don't really care either :-p ) I don't notice any of the above. Don't ask me later what they were wearing! I never remember! (True story: I might go months knowing someone and stop and think one day, hmm I wonder what their eye color is. I have no idea! I should probably find out!) It's because the first thing I notice when I meet someone is their personality. And that is what sticks. I perceive way more than people might realize. It's hard to know what to do with this in some friendships. You know, usually the kinds of friendships that revolve around really general nice (not uncomfortable) topics like clothing or sports teams or hair or what event is going on or the latest celebrity news or what weird person you saw at the store. It's a very easy relationship to maintain. It's the kind that is tempting to gravitate towards. It got me thinking though, and I began to wonder, "Why are we hiding ourselves?? Why are we settling for relationships that are so shallow, that we are never going to grow as a person from?" Good question.

I love the lyrics to this song by Casting Crowns. Take a second to read the lyrics and apply them.

Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

*Chorus*
Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is CONVINCING
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart

But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Chorus
Well if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

_____________________________________________________________________

I wonder, what are we so afraid of? We like to hide behind these relationships because we're afraid of being seen as a real person with failures, of being told that there might be something in our lives that is hurting us and possibly others that we need to stop doing (or start doing), and of being responsible for really being involved in other people's lives. After all, what will they think of us? It's not our place, right?

Jesus had something to say about it though! Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend's countenance.” A friend’s countenance is a look or expression of encouragement or moral support. When is the last time you had a friend call you just to ask how you were doing? When is the last time you called a friend and asked her if she needed to talk?

We're scared of being ourselves and showing failures, of over stepping the line of "privacy", of not wanting to be the bad guy to lovingly tell someone that their anger is hurting those around them, or that their attitude towards their spouse is not what God would want. We don't want to need help. We don't want to have to change and I think often, we hide from conviction because oh my. What if what someone is saying is true about us? Or what if God is working in our hearts to change us to be more like him, the best we can be. We run from it. It's so easy to choose option B. To have a friendship where you're not going to have to face any issues. To put on a facade so people will think that you have it all together. To not really invest time or yourself in someone because it could mean giving up "you time." To sit quietly and say nothing when we should be prompting someone towards God and living for him. What would happen though if we decided to break out of what is the status quo. Out of what is considered normal and acceptable, even in the church and among Christians? I think we might be surprised at the joy we would have. At the genuine fulfilling relationships we would suddenly find ourselves in.

We have to do it out of love though. Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him" We grow by speaking the truth in love. We help others grow by speaking the truth and drawing them to God.

I count my blessings for the genuine "true-blue" friends that I have. They're the ones I am completely myself around. They're the ones I'm not afraid to say, "Hey can you pray for me? I am having a really hard time having patience with Andrew. I know I need to work on it." They're the ones who will ask me how I'm doing and I know they aren't just wanting to hear, "Fine." They'll listen to me talk for ten minutes about my wonderful day, or my really hard week. They're the kind of friends who I can go to with a question for advice and they won't just give a happy acceptable answer, but will challenge me to do what's right. They're the friends I would sacrifice anything for, and not think twice about what I would be getting in return for it.

It's the kind of relationship Christ modeled for us. He was the perfect example of love. He gave and sacrificed and asked nothing in return. He healed ten lepers and only one came back and said thank you. What would you do if that happened? Unfriend them on Facebook? Tell everyone how ungrateful they are and how you can't believe it and they deserve to pay? Not him. He continued to love and heal and give of himself even if it meant that he wouldn't gain anything in return. He saw people's failures but he didn't  make a public fool out of them or start a rumor. He loved them and challenged them to be better and do better,even if it meant saying the truth that no one else wanted to. He did it out of love. He was the ultimate example of what we should be like.

I challenge all of us to dare to be real, to break out of the status quo and find the true friendships we've been missing. Dare to ask someone how they are doing and listen for a real answer. Dare to encourage someone and ask how you can pray for them. And, follow up! Find someone to impact. Find someone who you normally wouldn't really want anything to do with because it might take up "me time." Or maybe you're just afraid of what people will think about you for being around them. Go hang out with the homeless for a day at a local rescue mission and volunteer your time. (I don't say go give them money because it's hard to know these days how honest people really are. Some of them make the choice to panhandle money for a living.) Get to know that teenager you know who you have assumed a lot about on the outside to be an indication of them as a person. Those tattoos you see? They are probably not an indication of rebellion! Ask them what they stand for. You might be surprised to learn that they're actually in memory of their dear friend that they lost to cancer.Or those dreadlocks? Yeah those aren't an indicator of their heart either! (Sometimes kids just want to try something for fun!) That parent at the park who is smoking or not talking nicely to their kids? Say hello! You will make more of an impact in their lives by spending time with them and being an example of good parent (or good health) building a relationship with them rather than just judging them. Jesus didn't agree with everything the people he spent time with did but he did not let that stop him from showing them love and drawing them to a relationship with him.

Find ways to live outside the box of "you" this week. Encourage someone. Challenge someone to live more for Christ and less for them. Be willing to hear loving convicting words from a friend. Be willing to change! Talk to someone you normally wouldn't. Find a way to open  up to a friend in a way you never have. (Share that secret in your past you're scared to!) Through all this, get to know Jesus better. Open up to him too. Those are just a few ideas. I'd love to hear your own and how God has become more real in your life.

2 comments :

  1. I am chairman of the prayer ministry at my church, so I get a lot of requests for prayer, but mostly they are for other people. Sometimes someone says "Pray for me. I'm having a hard time. I don't understand what God wants." That is a time to pour out your heart for her, hold her hand, claim God's sustaining power.

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  2. Very insightful Laura. Im blessed to have some very good friends, that if I ask how things are going they will answer honestly and I do the same with them. Also of course my hubby and sister. Thats one thing that I realized around the funeral time of my sisters baby was how important good friends are, and I didnt want to take relationships for granted. We had so many encouraging people and I wanted them to know that I loved them, so I told them.

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