This past Saturday, my wife Kim and I hosted a Christmas Party at our house. We had 20 or so people over to celebrate with us and we had a great time! The crazy thing was how much time it took to prepare. We cleaned the house for a week, we went shopping, rearranged furniture, added decorations, cooked, and our oldest son Caleb and I even installed patio pavers Saturday morning to finish a cool outdoor space complete with a fire pit and Christmas lights. I commented to Kim earlier in the week how it was good to have the party because we finally took on a few projects that we otherwise would have put off to a later date. Preparing to impress in hard work.
Yesterday afternoon, Kim went grocery shopping for the family and when she got home, we had to bring the groceries into the house from the alley. This was not terribly inconvenient, but I realized that what we had done was to simply take the clutter and the junk we didn’t want people to see (i.e. old ratty patio furniture, a broken desk, etc, etc, etc) and effectively “hid” it in the garage and now the car doesn’t fit. As we lugged the groceries through the catacombs of what was just recently a functioning garage, I realized an important truth…
This is how we all operate.
We take the ratty and broken stuff in our lives and we hide it from people. These aren’t strangers, we don’t seem to care too much what they think, these are people we “know”. We know them, but we don’t want them to know how much we struggle, how much we hurt. We don’t want them to see that we aren’t perfect and put together like they are…or are they? The more I walk this life as a follower of Christ and the more I hang out with others who claim the same, the more I am convinced that if there is anything we lack as Christians, its the ability to be truly honest about who we are.
Despite the fact that I am part of the healthiest church I have ever been associated with and I have deeper and more meaningful relationships than ever before, I find it a bit tragic that if, on Saturday night, someone would have opened the door from the hall out to the garage, I would have shrunk in shame. The fear of rejection and the embarrassment of someone seeing my mess would have been overwhelming. I would have made excuses and rationalizations. I would have had to explain away my deficiencies as if I had failed a test or something.
But wait…in Christ there is no condemnation right? In Christ there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free. And yet somehow I feel like admitting to being a slave to sin and being honest about my struggle will bring condemnation from the ones I know the best, from the ones that also call Jesus their savior. Its not their fault, they are great people and somewhere deep in my heart I know that being real with them would be OK and even right. But that’s a risk that’s not so easy to take.
I know that I am not alone in this particular tug of war. You feel it too. So just to help us start the honesty, I am opening up our house for visitors anytime. Come unannounced. Come early. Come late. But be prepared. Be prepared to get dirty. Be prepared to help me straighten up. Be prepared to scrub base boards and get rid of some junk. Be prepared to hold up this broken and ratty soul that struggles to put feet to his faith and longs for the day that he won’t be afraid to be real.
And I’ll drop by your place soon too. I’ll bring my rubber gloves and a sledge hammer and we can set about the dirty work of being real.