Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Struggle of the Not-So-Super Human

It's a familiar - and false - mentality that: "Christians should always have joy, and you are being a terrible example to those young in faith if you start to reveal that your life is crumbling. What kind of testimony would that be!? You can't witness if you're not happy!"

And that, my friends, is how I have been conditioned growing up. I suppose a good percentage of people had the convenience of having a surrounding that encouraged them to "find themselves" and to "be who they want." Lucky for them, to be who they want could be an external or internal choice. But to tell me (or anyone) that we should always put on a "happy face" is actually not a demand for our outward appearance, it's the breaking of our inner confidence.

Here is what I mean, via my own personal experience:
People told tell me that I could be a lawyer or an artist or a preacher or a nurse, basically whatever I wanted, and the choice was ultimately mine. But their reactions to my lifestyle also told me that I was forbidden to reveal my weaknesses. The results were devastating. I wore all sorts of uniforms of varying professions. But the reason I could not settle (strangely, I'm still unsettled?) was due to the fact that in my head, I rehearsed to myself that unless I have perfection AND a happy face on, I am a disappointment to Jesus, a bad example to people, a inefficient testimony, a fraud, a failure, a waste of life. We can see how this stems into a terrible sense of worth. What I mean is, I felt like my life was worth something only if I was at perfection. Below perfection, I felt the dissatisfaction of peers and superiors. I felt secure if I had the approval of the hardest critics. I felt devastated if I received a bit of critique. With this kind of standard, I remained under the impression that I "failed" at everything, thus, I needed to change career direction.

Of course, the fact that I am not superhuman or perfect means YES I did (and still do!) have areas of weakness. So in aiming for approval ratings, my vices of choice were little white lies, jumbled priorities and "flirting" with the critics for a two-thumbs up. [Flirting = not literal.]

Let us just say, I lived out of fear.

Frankly, I hate being plastic. Anyone who's experienced "the mask" eventually realizes that it suffocates you more than liberates you. Yet, even though we "know" this, the reason so many people still go back to it is because it's like a security blanket. And yet, security blankets are childish, and wearing masks is immature.

Am I advocating a parade of our faults? Nooo way. Complaining is to the devil what praise is to God. And in any case, it's not necessary (or smart?) to spill your life story to the next stranger on the elevator. However, to hide is to lie.

The route to take, in all sincerity, is surrender to God. It's the route that says, "Yes, I am having an area that I am struggling with, BUT I am in faith that God will [etc etc etc]."
What I'm saying is that I learned all the proper phraseology, but never learned to do it first. Talk is super cheap. A surrendered life does have a countenance of joy, peace, happiness, and love - and you have no shame, you're not walking on eggshells afraid the mask will fall off - because there is no mask. The joy is deep as marrow, and it's real. Your situations, your weaknesses are very real too. But, you know Truth.

I am writing all this with the thought that I am plagued by it as much as I used to - praise God. But also because it's partially the reason I haven't written in a while. I felt under the weather (both physically and spiritually) and it did not seem like I could say anything out of a place of brokenness. And the perfection gig? It is SO much more intense. In fact, while writing this blog, I can't help but think that I better have something encouraging to say or else it will really look like I'm out of touch with God.

So here's my honest-honest-honest closing thoughts, regarding myself and you:
I struggle being vulnerable, but I would like to be. I feel like people have only come to know purposefully-selected areas of accomplishment and success, and therefore, so many people have a false perception of me. Currently, I crave God, but I feel like it's not enough. My soul literally longs for Him, but laziness has got in the way.
And amidst all this, I do fight to praise Him anyway.
Because when the battle is fierce, you have to fight even harder!

In the end, I'm not going to suggest you spill your problems, nor am I suggesting you only give happy reports. I am, however, going to suggest that you simply be honest. Because the mouth speaks out of the heart. You'll either be speaking out of a surrendered heart, or a troubled heart, and believe me, even if you are a troubled heart, there is always room for grace, prayer, restoration, and repentance.

...In this world you will have trouble. But TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world!
-John 16.33


Reading: Wicked by Gregory Maguire
Listening to: Brooke Waggoner
Watching: political commentaries

1 comment :

  1. Am currently working on a piece of writing that quite compliments this post..Thank u for being so real as u hope the church would's beautiful and I'm blessed..