Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What It Means to be Real

There is a movement.

It's been a gradual descent.  I understand where it comes from.  It makes sense we would get to this place, what with society's obsession with sensationalism.  

In recent church history, a philosophy arose that we needed to make Jesus more relatable.  And perhaps this was true.  The tall steeples and bells and pressed suits weren't really speaking to the average teenager or the wayward son.  So we set drums on our stages, took away the traditional pulpit, and began to speak to people in the same way Jesus spoke to the people.  We became real.  Relevant.  

In the midst of this innocent shift, something happened and we have all snapped.

"Real" has become its own religion.  "Real" has become its own pharisaical form of idol worship.  

It has become something to be heralded, to be revered.  It's as if using the f-word a few times in an article, topped off by a clear damn or two, makes someone real.  It's as if airing dirty laundry, literally, makes someone more relatable.  

It may be fun to read about, talk about, engage in.  But this kind of gospel brings no one to repentance.  

To admit our shortcomings is biblical.  To stay in that place, refusing to move or grow, is sin.

We have built communities of women where sharing is safe - and for that I am eternally grateful.  We NEED places where we can admit that, some days, we feel undervalued, unloved, and want to burn the laundry in a fire pit in the driveway.  I get it.  But what we desparately need, and what these communities are lacking, is for women to follow up their words of empathy with admonishment and even repentance.

The Bible says children are a blessing. The Bible also says not to complain about anything.  So when we complain about our children, and receive only, "Amen, sisters" and "Hell yeahs,"  what have we done but encouraged each other in sin?

We need to encourage each other with a refusal to remain stagnant.  With a call to change.  How can we be more grateful?  How can we learn to love, yes, even the laundry? How can we bless our kids this week?  Spend more time? Read more books?  How can we love our children unconditionally and how can we enjoy their presence?  If the Bible says they are a blessing, then they are.  We just have to treat them as such.

I feel like this isn't happening nearly enough.  I feel like we are throwing our hands in the air, giving up, asking for another glass of wine, and laughing at how we are all so real, we can't even.

And now I'm going to say something harsh.  Because no one seems to be saying it.  

In the time it takes to take a selfie with a messy room, messy hair, and type that long message about how we are keepin it real, that messy room could have been cleaned.  With half the energy spent justifying the disdain we have for our children and how much mothering sucks and is the hardest thing ever and oh my gosh do I have to keep reading this book over and over, we could have repented of our selfish, ungrateful, complaintive "real selves," and be experiencing growth and a new appreciation and love for our children.  And maybe even that book.

Perhaps we can all take a lesson from The Skin Horse about being real.  
He says to the Velveteen Rabbit, "It doesn't happen all at once.  You become.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

THIS.  Becoming real.  Being willing to be loved to pieces, and letting God work on our shortcomings is the true essence of becoming Real.  It isn't something we choose or something we can force.  It is something that happens to us after years of service and love and gratitude and stretching and growing and loving.  It's years of becoming like Jesus until one day we lay our head down at night and realize we feel truly alive.