If you've read many of my blogposts, you know I didn't grow up in church. Far from it, in fact. I was born out of wedlock to a teenage mom and my mom became a Christian the same year I did. I was twenty one - she was 39. When my mom found out she was pregnant at age 17, she also found out that my dad had gotten another girl pregnant. He married the other girl. I have a half-sister who's 15 days older than me. I say this to say that, while human nature takes over and we all have tendencies to hide our mistakes and put our best face forward, I have never had a desire to pretend things are perfect. For the most part, what you see is what you get. I have some struggles that I deal with that I share openly, and I have more private struggles that only a close few know about. I try to share everything with Glen in an attempt to be held accountable, but I don't think that's the norm for most Christians. The longer I'm a Christian, the more "plastic" people I meet. You know, the kind that seem like they have it all together and always have! (I should also say that I have met many wonderful, authentic Christians who have opened up and let me in their world). I don't say this to judge, it's definitely only because of the path God set me on that I tend to be more transparent by nature (sometimes to a fault!). I spent my entire childhood embarassed that my parents weren't married, but when your last name isn't the same as your dad's and your sister is your same age, you have to be upfront with people. I'm sure I tried to cover it up from time to time (and I definitely didn't approach the subject first), but there came a time when I realized it wasn't my mistake and I shouldn't be embarassed by it. (This excludes having to tell my kids when they were old enough to understand. I definitely wanted to pretend everything was perfect for them).
Over time, however, I came to another realization - we all make mistakes, and not only should I not be embarassed by them, I should glory in the fact that God rescued me from that and I should be upfront with everyone. I should not only share about my past, but about my current struggles as well. People need to see that other Christians are real people. While it's not always appropriate to share every struggle while you're in the midst of it, it is appropriate to share that God is dealing with you in a certain area - and it's always appropriate to share after God has brought you out of it! I'm still treading lightly on this path where my kids are concerned. I definitely want to be real with them, but I don't want to over-share regarding my past. So far, God has given me words to speak to them. I can only trust that He'll continue to do so.
Recently I learned of a boy from my childhood who is involved in a very sinful lifestyle. This is someone that was raised in a Christian home. I was saddened when I read his blogpost that said the first time he went to a gay bar alone, he ran into a pastor from church camp. This seemed somehow to put the stamp of approval on it - almost normalizing it. I've never walked in his shoes and I don't presume to know all of the ends and outs of homosexuality. I only know what I learned from the gay men my mom worked with as a hairdresser, and that the Bible says any kind of sex outside of marriage is wrong.
Yesterday I read that the Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention gave his resignation for "immoral acts with a woman". While I'm not surprised (not because I know this to be in his character, but because he's a human being), it seems like one more scar on the church. One more excuse people will give for "the church" letting them down.
None of us are perfect, but do we convey that enough to other believers, and unbelievers for that matter? How do we get rid of the myth that Christians are perfect? How, in trying to live a life, holy and pleasing to God, do we really get across the fact that we are only holy because of the blood shed on our behalf? It's probably evident, but let me say out loud that I seriously screw up on a daily basis. If you're lifting me up as someone to be like, you need to raise your bar - I'm way off the mark!
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9
While praying about both of these situations, God began to lay on my heart that this is the very reason we are to be transparent. If I am not willing to share my story of how God has gotten me through the trials in my life and in the process, help out a fellow believer, what exactly is the purpose in Him getting me through them? These are also reasons to have an accountability partner. Satan does his best work where there are secrets. In both of the cases above, men in the ministry not only sinned, but led someone else into deeper sin. Recognizing our weaknesses and having someone to hold us accountable are key.
So while I don't usually put on a fake face and pretend things are perfect, after thinking about the previous situations, I'm feeling convicted for covering up for other people. A very close member of my family is participating in a lifestyle I don't want my kids around. The issue is not whether I'll let her see my kids. I will, I just don't want her lifestyle flaunted in front of them. I have let her see the kids at our house or in public, as long as there's no mention of what she's doing. As I'm thinking about transparency and "being real", I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing. I can only pray that I am. Do I let them know what she's doing and that I don't agree with it, thus using her as an example or do I pretend everything's fine for now in order to protect her reputation? I don't want to make her look bad, but my fear is that my kids will find out anyway and not know that I stood against what she was doing. Oh Lord, let my motives be pure and pleasing to You!