This is probably the most raw I’ve ever been in sharing with anyone, let alone a group of people. I use the word “raw” because I think most of you can relate. But just in case you can’t, let me paint a picture for you … last week I was doing something I shouldn’t have been doing … cooking. I opened the oven door and for what seemed like minutes, (a brief second or two), I rested my forearm on the grill. My skin was raw.
It’s a noisy life inside my head. It’s loud and crowded, (nothing to worry about, friends). It is there where the pandemonium of harsh words, emotions, memories, judgments, striving, and criticisms, create turmoil for me. I’ve choked on perfectionism. I’ve been stagnant, and delayed, in my spiritual growth because of comparison. I’ve lived, (and sometimes still live) with self-loathing and a lack of self-esteem. Nothing I have ever done has been good enough to measure up … to my own impossible standards. This is the algorithm of learned behaviour in an alcoholic family. It’s complicated. Love and acceptance were rationed out. Anything less than perfection, perfect grades, perfect body, successful career, and perfect relationships dot dot dot, was never acceptable. Let’s frame this adequately, those who taught me were not perfect.
No, no, no … please do not feel pity for me … this story ends well.
Despite the former, I learned some pretty great tricks and behaviours to get through life and they served me well. I learned that I should “always come out smelling like a rose”. I learned that no one likes a party pooper. I learned that hiding your weaknesses and trying to rise above them makes you look like a go-getter. Being the team cheerleader will make everyone happy. Managing conflict on someone’s behalf makes me look tough and untouchable.
I can be here for you always, but you can never know the real me. That’s too risky and dangerous for my taste. My arm is still raw.
For so long, I have felt like a hypocrite. I have spent a lifetime practicing how to convince - no, hoodwink, yes, many people that I am always happy, energetic, outgoing, positive in attitude, carefree, extroverted, and every other constructive, productive, and suitable adjective one can use.
There is one quality I don’t fake; I don’t fake out when I apologize and repent for my behaviour. I lied to you all. You have no earthly or heavenly idea how very repentant I am.
Explanation - Not Excuse: I have been trying to be what I am not because I thought I would make a better friend, sister, mother, leader, and daughter to my Father - I thought that is what a good person looks like and behaves. I wanted to be perfect.
At the end of the day, whether or not you forgive me, I serve an awesome God! I serve a redemptive and forgiving God. I serve a God who has taken from me the burden that the adversary has used to come against me for an entire lifetime - up to now. Freedom has come. The prison doors have opened and from my chains I’ve been set free.
My secret is out and there is nothing more that Satan can do to steal my peace. Amen and hallelujah! Glory to God, my Father!
So today, I unveil the real me - the one who tries to reflect the image of Christ and sometimes fails. It’s me, the quiet one in the corner. It’s me, the loud one when I’m with close friends. It’s me, funny girl! I am hugely funny … ask anyone (except my family). It’s me who would love to hug, but I’m sometimes am afraid because I’ve been sexually abused. It’s me the one who really wants to go over and say hello or offer to pray for you and sometimes I’m just afraid to connect with someone I don’t know. It’s me who is filled with so much love for all of you - that was my gift from Covid-19. It’s me with all my quirks. It’s me with so much love it’s dangerous to keep contained.
I’ve allowed myself to be raw with you - we can’t get any closer than that. I don’t want to be perfect; it’s too much work. I need the energy to connect people and preach the gospel. I need to learn to keep my heart always open, but guarded. Where I am weak, He is strong!
And this my big “RAH!”
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 ESV.