A few weeks back, my daughter and I went to a Saturday-morning woman’s brunch. The temperature was -40 degrees with blowing wind and snow. It was one of the coldest days, in one of the coldest winters in recent memory.
I walked in the front door where the tables were set with white tablecloths and serviettes that reminded us of spring to come. The women in the room ranged from 26 to 75 years old. There were mothers with babies, young adults and seniors.
Three older women who sat behind me came from a care home. I asked them how they got to the church. One women said she went to the window of her suite, pressed the button on her command start and to her surprise the car started, even though it hadn’t been plugged in.
The speaker that morning talked about her six-year journey of raising four children while also caring for her husband who had bowel cancer.
During this difficult time, she worked hard to make it appear she was doing OK. She lived in denial for six years by not acknowledging her own struggles, while trying to keep everything perfect for her kids.
What spoke to me was her vulnerability. Though a trained counselor, she is now going for counseling because of unresolved anger issues related to this six-year struggle.
In the past, I always felt shame when I considered going for counseling and wondered what people would think if they found out?
But our speaker was talking about something that is rare these days — authentic Christianity. The word authentic means being genuine, real, actual, and original. Not false or copied.
Many of us believe we honor God by putting on a brave face, as we deny our anger, fears and confusion. She talked about what it meant to be brave and what it didn’t mean. Being brave is NOT:
- Pretending you have it all together.
- Pretending you are never scared.
- Pretending you never make a mistake.
But many of us have the wrong idea of what real Christianity involves and the speaker quoted a verse from 1 John to explain:
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 NKJV)
Light reveals darkness and being honest and authentic about the struggles in our lives brings these secrets to light, where hope and healing is now within our reach.
For years, I felt that being a Christian meant not letting anyone know what was going on in my life. I fell into the trap of comparing myself to others and the women in leadership who appeared to have it all together.
Being brave means being willing to talk about the tough stuff that’s affecting us. It’s being vulnerable and allowing others to see us in the midst of our struggles.
I believe God wants to break down the walls of perfection and denial, so that He can create genuine connections and relationship between women. When we are willing to deal with the shame that keeps our secrets hidden, then God can bring healing.
As the meeting wound down that freezing Saturday morning, I looked around and saw that a fire of authenticity had been lit in our hearts. I saw tears. I saw women sharing their hearts. Some confessed to self- hatred, others like myself confessed to falling into the trap of comparison.
It was cold outside but the Holy Spirit had lit a fire of authenticity.