In his recent blog post Exciting News: I’m Not Enough, and You Aren’t, Either!, Family Ministry Pastor Dave Carl said,
“You are not okay, and you don’t need to pretend to be anymore!”
I wish I could put that line on the marquee sign out in front of our church. It would read,
“This is the place where you don’t have to pretend to be okay anymore!” I love that! It reminds me of my favorite quote of all time by Timothy Keller.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”
Pretending is exhausting! One look at Facebook and Instagram and I am exhausted, and not from coveting what people’s lives look like, but from the pretending I know is going on in the pictures posted. Our pretending has built up walls around us to keep others out; I think that is one of Satan’s greatest plans. We feel unworthy the way we are, so we pretend to be someone we are not… It’s exhausting, people! We see the perfect marriages and kids and jobs, and we think, “I can’t possibly share my crap and still be loved.” It’s time for all of us to take a stand and let who we really are be known!
I was born with the gift of oversharing…although those who know me well probably don’t consider it a gift, because they know way more about me than they ever wanted to. However, it has enabled me to be authentic about who I am. Let me share with you how God has shown His love for me through the body of Christ. When I started attending Stonebriar Community Church 14 years ago, I served in the nursery. At that time, I was a bookkeeper, and my marriage was in horrible condition. I served in the nursery with three ladies I had never met before. I had nothing in common with these women other than being a woman, loving babies, and loving Jesus. After a few weeks of being in battle together, changing diapers, soothing crying, and cleaning spit-up off our clothes, I admitted to them in the middle of changing a diaper, through tears, how my marriage was failing, how I was struggling daily as a mother, and how I was ready for Jesus to return right then.
Those moments on Sunday mornings when those women listened and love me were life changing for me! It was the Gospel in action. I was being fully known and truly loved, and not because I was special, but because those women loved Jesus and extended His grace to me.
At the time, I was new to Stonebriar Community Church, and the place, like most churches, seemed pretty perfect! Because of the church’s look of perfection, I felt like a failure when I couldn’t even pretend to live up to that standard… and I thank Jesus that I couldn’t. God used the nursery ladies to help restore my marriage. Those women loved me and prayed with me and told me to forgive my husband and to love him. (Side note, the world was telling me to leave him, and that I deserved better!) They told me to talk to someone with some training, and I listened. My husband and I met with one of the church pastors, and as he was led by the Holy Spirit, he walked us through reconciliation. If I had not been willing to be vulnerable to those special ladies in this place of perceived perfection, where would my marriage be?
It didn’t take long for me to know God’s calling for me was not to be a bookkeeper. The body of Christ at Stonebriar transformed my life, leading me into full time ministry.
To any of you reading this thinking you have us fooled, you don’t! Pretending to be okay is not the answer, but being fulling known and truly loved is! It’s what God does for us; He knows how many hairs are on our head, He knows every thought, and in spite of that, He truly loves us—enough to send His Son Jesus to die in our place. We are incomplete without the Body of Christ. Jesus is the answer. He is our strength and our rock, and He will allow us to heal as we let others in. To once again steal from Pastor Dave’s post, “You are not alone!”
Be brave—these halls are full of messed up people who love Jesus and some who don’t even know Jesus yet. I pray that our halls become full of people, like me, who have let their guard down so Jesus can be highlighted in their weakness. I pray that we will openly share our struggle, as well as our stories of redemption. But more, I pray that, through the crack of vulnerability and authenticity, you will allow your community of believers to enter in, know your story, pray with you, and encourage you in your journey.
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” ~2 Corinthian 12:9
Linda Wylie and her husband, Kevin, have been married for 21 years and recently renewed their wedding vows while looking forward to 20 more years together. Linda is a mother of two teenagers and recently transitioned into Stonebriar’s Student Ministry after years in Early Childhood Ministry. Her passion is to share her unique approach to life with kids needing authentic love and encouragement. Linda is a people person who loves the Lord and wants nothing more than to show others who Jesus is with her life. She can be a mess, but always with a good sense of humor, so watch out when you see her coming. She will challenge you to look outside yourself.