Owlish Contemplations · Whispers of Faith

When You Crave Authenticity

Let’s get real.

Aren’t you just tired of the game? That game of “How are you?” Smile. “Fine, how are you?” “Fine.” Move on.

We’re all just fine, eh? The whole entire world is doing just fine. None of us ever feel anything beyond mildly exhilarated, our lives are under perfect control, and there’s never any conflict.

If that were the case, wouldn’t we have a lot less chaos in the world? Or maybe I’m the only one who ever has any problems.

I don’t think so, though. I think we’ve just learned how to wear the socially acceptable mask, while inside most of us feel battered and bruised from a constant struggle that we feel like we can’t even voice for fear of what people will think of us.

I’m not talking about venting or complaining about the weather, a bad teacher, a lack of jobs or the overcooked meat.

No. I’m talking about soul vulnerability. When you glibly say, “I’m fine,” and someone dares to look right back into your thinly veiled eyes, and say, “I know you’re not fine. What’s going on?” When they dare to get right down to the heart of the matter past all the outward laughter and happy façade you pass off to the rest of the world.

In our technology-age of life-sucking screen-gazing, have we forgotten how to soul-gaze? Have we lost the art of looking into a person’s eyes and realizing how much they’re starving for love? We all have a piece of us that needs strength from another person’s support and understanding.

We need to be able to sigh deeply and let go … let go of our need to impress, our need to be right, our need to “live by the book,” our need to be safe.

We need to be authentic. We need the comfort bubble to pop, allowing the filmy gauze we’ve draped over a gaping, wounded heart to disappear. And in its place, accept the healing of love extended from a sister or brother in Christ who actually cares about our soul getting well. Isn’t that what Christ called us to do? Not to sit at home, withering away on our own but to get up, walk out the door, and say bravely to another soul, “I’m right there with you. I’m hurting, too.”

Instead of the expected response, what would happen if we said,

“I’m struggling.”
“I’m lonely.”
“I’m discouraged.”
“I’m afraid.”
“I’m hurting.”
“I’m confused.”

Maybe, instead of looking awkwardly away, and murmuring an “I’m so sorry,” we could learn to say back, “Me, too. I need grace just as much as you, friend. Let’s walk through this together.”

In an article on Ann Voskamp’s blog recently, she said this: “Soul growth only happens in the soil of vulnerability.”

Vulnerability. It scares me. I’d rather back away into a dark closet than admit to someone that I need help. But why does it scare me? Probably because I’m afraid once again that I’m the only one who feels the way I do.

Guess what? I’m not. I’ve talked to enough people in my life who have dared to be brave with me to realize that every human being struggles with the same thing – being human.

We are frail creatures. We were made with a great capacity to love – which means we also have a great capacity to be hurt. Pain and struggles are inescapable on this earth. So what should we do? Just brush them aside and pretend like they don’t matter? Drown them out with partying and overt fake happiness?

I believe that we are called to something greater. We are called to get down on our knees and pray deeply with one another. We are called to cry tears and laugh happiness with one another. We are called to hold tightly and whisper our weaknesses in each other’s ears so that we can strengthen one another.

Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

You want to fulfill the law of Christ? It’s not done by being super-spiritual and checking commandments off a list. Or by pretending like you never have any problems. I have been there and done both of those.

No. You fulfill the law of Christ by knowing and loving another person well enough to know that they have burdens to carry. And by letting go of your pride long enough to allow them to carry your burdens.

Don’t be afraid. You’ll find that when you drop the mask, others will be given the courage to drop their mask … and secretly, it’s what we’re all dying for on the inside. We’re dying for the few people in our lives who are willing to be honest with us and drop all their walls.

We were never made to live in a gated community of one. We were made to live in a community whose walls are the arms of brothers and sisters … whose trade is that of soul sustenance … and whose winds are the cleansing winds of forgiveness, grace, and trust.

Don’t waste your life on shallow platitudes … when you were made to dive deep into the realms of soul communion.

This is where the healing begins.

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