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Grace To Be Honest

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For some reason, my wife and I apparently love to take on big life changes in bunches. Getting married? Let’s add a new job at the same time. Having a baby who doesn’t sleep for the first nine months? Let’s make sure that’s mixed in with another job change and buying a house. And definitely make sure the new oldish house has creaky floors, so we wake our rarely sleeping baby as often as possible. We do at least love a challenge.



It’s tempting to keep our struggles nuclear—all in the family—but then you end up having a 25-megaton blow-up about who loads the dishwasher right. My wife and I believe in community because we know we need it. In seasons of depletion, God’s grace has come to our marriage when we sought help from the hands and feet of Jesus, which is to say when we opened up to members of our church (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). This, of course, meant we had to swallow some pride.

What can we say of pride? It cometh before the fall, sure, but really it’ll do the whole job of self-destruction given the chance. Pride oozes a corrosive mix of arrogance and insecurity, eating away our gratitude. And when we stop thanking God and other people, we forget the joy and even necessity of asking. Instead, we continue thinking we’re our own all in all, the very habit that started our trouble in the first place. Self-sufficiency cascades in a hideous and—in a bit of tragicomedy—a self-feeding sequence.

Of course, we don’t feel it when things are going well. In fact, good times seem to vindicate our pride. All the while, though, we’re sealing ourselves off until one day we’re sleep-deprived and warring over dirty dishes—and nobody even knows.

Pride, on a broad scale, takes on the look of polite society where everyone admits only to doing “fine.”
Pride, on a broad scale, takes on the look of polite society where everyone admits only to doing “fine.” I submit to you that while such society may appear decorous on Sunday mornings, it’s actually a lonely mess. The epistle of James is good to remind us that God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). We all need grace day by day—sometimes twice a day—so how does one become humble?

It starts with honesty—that thing that cracks the self-made wall pride would build around us. Coming out of hiding humbles us so that we can receive care and be thankful. Over time, as seasons change, we find that we can give out the same kind of grace we’ve been given. On a broad scale, care flows in and out of each of us very much like the breath of the Spirit.

I’ll admit right away that opening up to someone about real heartache is no certain or predictable undertaking. You might be met with indifference or you could become gossip. You might even find their troubles are worse than your own, though this might not always be a bad thing. Caring for someone else has this way of soothing our own hurts, perhaps just by deflecting some of our self-focus. Vulnerability comes with a risk and therefore asks something of us to build a culture permeated by it. For starters, perseverance, forgiveness, and courage, which is to say love.

But, imagine a church filled with people who make space for deeper and more honest conversation. Imagine a church filled with people who honor vulnerability by faithfully keeping each other’s confidence. Though reaching this goal will be a work in progress, a church filled with people like that is the best we can pray for because it’s a place where the Spirit and the Word can flow freely. It can all start with a truthful answer when someone offers those three simple words, “How’re you doing?”

Illustration by Jeff Gregory

Source: Grace To Be Honest
 
Active
[for me anyway] certainly pride must be avoided always, but there are other matter's we need to address: for one the "great supper" (Luke 14:16-24) we are invited to:

EXPANSION OF ESTATE
"And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused." (Luke 14:18)

EXPANSION OF BUSINESS
"And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused." (Luke 14:19)

EXPANSION OF HOUSEHOLD
"And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come." (Luke 14:20)

All of these are indeed allowable with God, but only if they do not distract us from Him and His Word at all.
 
Loyal
But, imagine a church filled with people who make space for deeper and more honest conversation. Imagine a church filled with people who honor vulnerability by faithfully keeping each other’s confidence. Though reaching this goal will be a work in progress, a church filled with people like that is the best we can pray for because it’s a place where the Spirit and the Word can flow freely. It can all start with a truthful answer when someone offers those three simple words, “How’re you doing?”
That would be awesome, wouldn't it? But, is it really possible, in the real world? I mean, I've tried it. It didn't work. They would claim "Whatever is said here stays here" and "this is a safe place." But, those were lies. I trusted them with my feelings; with my heart, and they stomped on it and they betrayed me, and then they threw me out the door and even told me I could not step foot on the church property ever again. Wow! Well, that was one of them. Another ended up telling someone what I said and that got back to one of the pastors and he totally and harshly misjudged me BIG TIME and was cruel and mean to me, although I had done no wrong, and in fact, had done a loving act for someone I loved deeply, and I was hurting myself, and I needed healing and love and tenderness and compassion. And, this was supposed to be a support group for those with damaged emotions, only they just stomped on them even more. And, they didn't care. These incidents took place many years ago.

God has healed me from those situations, and he has freed me from the hurt of them all, and I have forgiven all, but just letting you know that it doesn't always work like it should, and sometimes it backfires, because even well intended people are still human, and they don't all have it together, and so they injure the hurting. Chuck Swindol wrote an excellent book on that subject many years ago called "Dropping Your Guard." He said, " We’re the only outfit I’ve ever heard of who shoots their wounded." He was talking about the church. And, that is the sad reality more often than not. He said something to the effect that we need to be more like a local bar rather than like stained-glass cathedrals (not an exact quote). And, you know, he is right. It would be great if, in an ideal world, we could all drop our guards and be honest with one another about what is really going on in our lives, but we don't live in an ideal world, do we? I'm not talking about just being able to complain, either. I mean honest sharing from the heart and saying "I'm hurting, will you pray for me?"

I am presently hurting! Different situation from above. Will you pray for me? Pray that I will be strong in the Lord and steadfast and not give way to fear. There, I dropped my guard. Tough stuff here, but God is good all the time, and he is all sufficient for all I need always! Amen!
 
Loyal
@Chad
But, imagine a church filled with people who make space for deeper and more honest conversation. Imagine a church filled with people who honor vulnerability by faithfully keeping each other’s confidence. Though reaching this goal will be a work in progress, a church filled with people like that is the best we can pray for because it’s a place where the Spirit and the Word can flow freely. It can all start with a truthful answer when someone offers those three simple words, “How’re you doing?”
@Sue J Love
God has healed me from those situations, and he has freed me from the hurt of them all, and I have forgiven all, but just letting you know that it doesn't always work like it should, and sometimes it backfires, because even well intended people are still human, and they don't all have it together, and so they injure the hurting.
Yes, indeed, as it is written: "every man is a liar". The only ones who do not lie are the ones who have completely overcome the world like Jesus [John 16:33]. How many of those are there? Likely few but as long as we have not completely overcome the world ourselves our own discernment is like to be quite faulty.

We can only always trust God. We may come to have a measure of confidence in others, but even with those, when they stumble they may fall right on top of us.

@Sue J Love

I am praying for you sister!
 
Loyal
Yes, indeed, as it is written: "every man is a liar". The only ones who do not lie are the ones who have completely overcome the world like Jesus [John 16:33]. How many of those are there? Likely few but as long as we have not completely overcome the world ourselves our own discernment is like to be quite faulty.

We can only always trust God. We may come to have a measure of confidence in others, but even with those, when they stumble they may fall right on top of us.

I am praying for you sister!
Very wise words indeed! Thank you for sharing. And, thank you for your prayers. Be blessed!
 
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