I’ve thought a lot lately about being real. Real with myself…owning my stuff. Real with others…not presenting a false front. Real with God… Why is that so hard? But I know, way down deep to the molecules and atoms of me, that being real with Him is the only way to healing, to health, to prosperity of the soul, to joy, to peace. Too often we lie to ourselves, hide behind our masks. Too often we refuse to allow the real us out.
We do it in our families, our churches, our workplaces. I did, for years. I tried to button up who I was, but parts and pieces of me would leak out, bulge here and there, pop those buttons and seams. Then I had to put it all back together again. Tuck it all away. It’s funny, I haven’t wrestled with that in a while, at least not to that degree. When Jesus took His heavenly seam ripper and tore apart all the seams of me, there I was, a blobby, bleeding mess. All that ugly that I had tried to hide or disguise for all those years just sat there pulsating in yuck. He rebuilt me, seemingly from the ground up. I felt like a tottering babe wobbling around for a while. But He wouldn’t let me drape my covers back over my real, tuck it away again.
Isn’t He marvelous?
It probably sounds like that’s the last thing on earth you’d want. I used to say that if I ever let it all out, I’d never get it back in again. And I was right. I remember sitting in my home at the end of a very long, very chaotic, very horrible day, The Bad Day, thinking “this is what happens when I let it out.” This is what happens when I feel. The feels just overwhelmed me. They took over. They scared people. They scared me. They hurt people. But I had to get there, you see. All the fakery, all the pretending, all the hiding, all the covering…it was destroying me from the inside out.
I think about plants. I’m not real good at growing them. But even I know that if I were to go outside and drape a tarp or a canvas over a plant, that plant would wither and die. Same with my spirit.
In the years before the wandering years, I played at church. I played the part, and I was a terrible actress. I would read books or hear people talk about how God had changed their lives and wonder why He didn’t do that for me. I wouldn’t let Him, that’s why. I would go to church and sing the hymns, listen (somewhat) to the sermon, then go home and more or less check that off my list. There were times, some longer than others, where I felt like He was reaching my heart, but see I had to have all the pieces in place before I could feel Him. Everything had to be right with my world. When things started going haywire in my sphere, I ran away from God. I guess I blamed Him.
As the years passed and my heart got further and further from my Creator, I withered all the more. I told myself I was happy, but even I knew that was a lie. I could have stretches of time where I wasn’t unhappy, but rarely was I happy. Standing on this side of God’s divine alterations, I know that I didn’t even know what happy was.
There are so many of us wandering around like that! We think we’re happy, or at least as happy as it’s possible to be. But down deep we know that we’re not. We play at church, we greet and smile and wave, we sing and listen and get up and go home and go on about our lives, but we don’t live! We don’t truly know the Author of Life. We pay Him lip service, and sometimes, on good days, it’s truly sincere. We go to the alter, we bow and pray, and we go home with every intention of maintaining that life change, that determination, that “I’m really gonna do it this time.” And we don’t. We fail. A bad day comes and we give up. Maybe it takes two or three. Maybe it takes a month of bad days, or bad news, or bad whatever, but we give up. And we sit in our misery with our pretty smiles and think this is about as good as it’s ever going to get.
We know that’s not true. But we don’t live like it. Maybe we don’t know it. Maybe that’s one of those things that we don’t know clearly and without hesitation. We cry out to our Creator, “Is this it? Is this all there is? Is this the best I can expect?” But we don’t let Him answer. We don’t listen. Like a child with his fingers in his ears, we run away and claim He’s silent. But on the other side of that is our loving Father who is crying out to us. Who is pleading with us to listen to Him!
He devoted 66 books to His love letter, 1189 chapters, about 545,000 words in the original Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic text. All to tell us how much He loves us. And that’s just His word! He created us from nothing, He moves in marvelous and miraculous ways, He intervenes in time and space to show us His love for us. He consistently and constantly reaches out to us.
And we ignore Him.
I did, for years. And I blamed Him for it! Truthfully, I alternated between blaming Him and figuring I’d done something wrong. Didn’t say all the words, or pray the right prayer, or hold my mouth right, or stand on the right foot…something. All the while, I was simply not exposing my real. Keeping it tucked away with a “do not touch” sign in bold red and black. Duct taped that sucker.
I know that because when I did just let it all out, He was there. In gleaming, shining, sparkling glory. He met me where I was, with all my yuck hanging out. He met me with grace, with love, with hope and healing in His touch. He didn’t meet me with shame or condemnation. He let me be real because He is real. He is true and faithful and wonderful and merciful and gracious. He is all the things His word says He is. He is all the things those great believers say He is. He’s real.
And real change, real healing, real life is only possible through Him. If you’re sitting there, in your comfortable chair at the end of the work day, supper over with and night soon to fall, wondering if there’s anything better than what you have right now…there is. It’s Jesus.
Don’t give up on Him. Show Him your real. Be honest with Him. Pray the ugly prayers. Say the ugly words. Say the things that are in your heart that you refuse to take out or let anyone else hear because they’d think you need to be committed. Say the real stuff. Tell Him if you don’t believe He can meet your needs. I did, and He proved me wrong. Tell Him if you think all this Christianity is a bunch of hooey. He’ll likely agree with you, since modern Christianity bears only a faint resemblance to the early church. Tell Him if you think the God of the Bible is unknowable, harsh and cold and unfeeling. Ask Him to show you who He is. That request from a sincere heart will never be denied.
If you know me in real life, and you want a safe place to be real in, I’m your girl. If not me, ask your Father to lead you to someone who will help you strip away the masks and covers and façade you’ve hidden behind all your life. If you’re stubborn, like I am, and it takes reaching that desperate, no-way-out point to get you to let go of yourself, God will meet you there. He will be real to you.
Get real with Him.