(the following is an excerpt from a book I am in the process of writing. this is just the introduction, but so many of you have inspired me, and the chapters are ticking away. if you have any topics you feel are important, but often overlooked, please feel free to share them in the comments! thanks for reading. and thank you to those of you who told me to buck up, buckle down, and write.)
An Introduction to Honesty
At the moment that I'm writing this, I’m wishing that I wasn’t starting here… here being my couch. My heart is feeling wrung a little too tight because my seventeen month old was just crying uncontrollably for no reason while my husband searched for our missing property tax bill and I desperately tried to clean up dinner while snapping at both of them.
I’m wishing I was starting this book in a corner café with my life perfectly sorted out in the front AND back of my mind, my emotions in check, my relationships sailing smoothly, and with fifty more years of experience under my belt. Oh, and a cup of coffee and a pleasant expression on my face and a general air of satisfaction about who I am.
But I’m not.
I’m here. Disgusted at myself for getting worked up over one bad half hour stretch. Thinking that at twenty-three I should know better. But also thinking that at twenty-three I’m just a baby myself.
This is real life. Along with the moments that take my breath away, are the moments that I wish I could hold my breath til I pass out. Along with the feeling like I’ve taken one step ahead, is the feeling that I’ve taken two steps back. Along with the knowing that following God is worth it, that relationships are worth it, that growing up is worth it, that sanctification is worth it, is the “but I’d rather just be comfortable,” feeling. There’s the doubting, the wondering if there is purpose in pain, the wondering if anyone else ever feels the way I do… does everyone else struggle?
If I posted a picture of real life on Instagram right now, not a whole lot of people would be “liking” it if you know what I mean. But would there be a lot of relating? Probably.
We don’t have to all come from the same background to relate. We don’t have to have all the same good and bad experiences to relate. We don’t have to all wonder if everyone is really living the constantly shiny lives they portray at church, in conversation, or online… they’re not.
Humans made in the image of God. Humans born into sin. Humans offered grace. Humans who can have hope in eternity. Humans living all the beautiful, mundane, downright hard, downright glorious in between.
So here I am, guys. I’m just like you, even if you’re not sitting on a couch with unwashed hair and tired eyes. Even if you’re not in the exact same place, in the exact same season, with the exact same personality.
I’m a sinner like you.
I’m living in this world of pain, hardship, dreams, and miracles like you.
I’ve been given the same outstretched Heavenly arms just like you.
And if you “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,” (Romans 10:9 ESV) then you and I have been given the same end goal. We’ve been given the same guidelines. We’ve been given the same Holy Scripture. We’re following the Leader.
You may be wondering why I’m trying to draw a line from you to me, so let me tell you. It’s because honesty is a lost art. And without honesty, there cannot be real connection or real relationships. We’ve all seen that movie or tv show where the main character separates him or herself further and further from the person they care about, simply because they won’t just tell them whatever is going on in their life. And what do we (I) do? Yell at them through the screen, of course! “If you would just explain!” “If you would just tell the truth!” “If you wouldn’t care about your ego so much!”
Well real relationships are like that too. The more we hide, the more we pretend we’re fine, the more we act like we’ve got it altogether while keeping our heel pressed against the closet door full of embarrassing or painful skeletons behind us, the further we draw away from others and the further they draw away from us.
I feel like that is what is happening to our generation. Even in the Christian circles. Maybe even especially in the Christian circles. We fight in the car all the way to church, get out of the mini-van, put on our game faces, and go judge the person in the aisle over for wearing such a tight skirt. Then we make pleasantries afterwards and when asked, “How are you doing?” we say “Good,” so sincerely we almost fool ourselves. Almost.
I’m not saying we need to go to church with mascara streaming down our faces, but if we never open up, or worse, if we trick ourselves into truly believing we’re fine and above all those people who aren’t fine… what good does that do?
It’s so easy these days to get lost in social media, in what others are accomplishing, in how everyone else seems to have it together while behind the scenes, we’re struggling. We’re wrestling with relationships, with judgment, with our dreams, with God’s plan, with school, with anxiety, with weight, with children, with infertility, with keeping up with busyness and house-work and bills. We wrestle with what mercy and forgiveness and healing look like. With what having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ looks like.
Growing up is tough. And I’m realizing it doesn’t magically stop at a certain age.
So find someone. Make a real connection. Find out how you can really pray for them. Tell them how they can really pray for you.
And be honest.
That’s what I want to be with you in this book. Honest. Not because I’ve learned everything I need to learn and not because I have all the life experience to qualify me for something like this. Those two things have kept me from writing for the longest time, but I think it finally hit me a few days ago that not having it altogether is the point. We don’t have to have it all figured out to share with one another and grow.
So here are some topics that are close to my heart, some things that I’ve failed and grown in, some lessons I’ve been learning over and over, and just some of my story… because no matter how different it is from yours, my life has the same heading as yours: “SINNER SAVED BY GRACE.”
I hope you relate. I hope you no longer have to feel alone.