Masking the Real Question…

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It’s time for me to confess something that is not only embarrassing, but painfully truthful. It is something I have struggled with for years; probably as far back as I can remember. It is a part of my DNA that has remained hidden, even in the most open and loving relationships.  Ready for the truth? I’m actually asking myself that question, not you…

I’m a liar; a deceitful, shame-filled liar.

I lie to you, I lie to my family, I even lie to my pastor. I could not even begin to count how many times I have lied, even this past week! And what I lie about is what is so surprising, especially belonging to a church with the vision “real with ourselves, God and others.” Please hang with me though because this confession may turn around and hit you on the backside faster than a bullet-train zipping through the green inland of Japan (WHOOOSH).

There happens to be one question, just one simple question that we all tend lie about when asked. I know that may seem doubtful, but you may be just as big a liar as I am.  It’s a question that begs for a mask to be put on; to cover up the deepest recesses of our soul.  A question that demands relief, sews fig leaves and necessitates hiding in the garden.  Are you ready to see if you are a big fat liar like me? It’s about to get real here folks. Here is that question…

How are you doing today?

Huh?

Yup, you heard it right. “How are you doing today?” It is a simple question indeed.  It is a “surfacy” question that actually bids for an answer from deep within the heart; a question that immediately puts you and I in a predicament we are not willing to address; rather we desperately search for wiggle room to slide out of a truthful response. Seems so inconsequential, doesn’t it?

Think with me for a minute about this elementary question that everyone asks, or are asked nearly every day of their lives. It comes in many shapes and sizes too. The variations include:

  • “How are you doing today?”
  • “What have you been doing with your life?”
  • “How’s your family doing?”
  • “What’s been happening at work lately?”

As I sit here and reflect on that question (or those questions), it really is not a very fair question to ask in the first place. I mean, think about it, you’re asking someone to give a response that digs to the core of their being. Most of us, from time to time, are facing immense pressures in life that would find us putting on a proverbial mask. I do not blame you one bit for lying in moments bearing this type of insolent questioning. But could there be a better way? Might there be a way to ask this question, or even answer this question allowing the “real” you and me to come out in that moment?

Wilson-home-improvement-tv-show-33144924-1024-768.pngThis all reminds me of Wilson from the 90’s hit TV show, Home Improvement. In a twist of blog irony, Wilson never showed his full face to the public. He had many ‘thought-provoking’ conversations with Tim “the Toolman” about the struggles of Tim’s life and the difficulties he was facing with his business, marriage, kids and more. And isn’t that exactly what we do?  We hide just a little bit of our real selves behind a fence. We are never really able to come out from behind the veil and allow our full selves to be shown in all our less-than-perfect glory. Please hear what I am about to say; it is so key to our growth.

Hiding behind the fence or putting on a mask never affords us the opportunity to truly heal from whatever is plaguing our lives.

Hiding is a defense mechanism. We falsely believe that it will keep any more bad from happening to us. In one sense it may just do that. It actually might keep more harm from infiltrating our broken spirits. But, something else is left out as well, something extremely vital to our lives gets shut out as we lock the door on the emotional boogey-man.

Nothing good ever gets in either…

I really hope that hits your core. When we shut out the bad, we also slam the door on the good. As we put up walls, wear masks, hide behind fences and operate in the shadows, we may be shutting out the bad stuff in life, but we are also preventing any of the good stuff from entering in as well. What is that good stuff? Healing.

As we begin to open up our lives to Godly people; you know, the people that love you and are willing to encourage you, speak truth to you, provide grace to you and have deep compassion on you, they will help you heal from your emptiness. Your situation may be your past, it may be your present or it may be something you will be facing in the future. In any instance, a good man or woman of God can help lead you to calmer waters where a fresh drink of crystal clear water awaits. But, it takes a risk. It takes the willingness to answer the question, “how are you doing today?” with truth.

Two final, yet important thoughts. First, I am not suggesting you answer that question with just anyone or at any time it is posed. There is wisdom in determining the appropriate time to share and with whom. I am giving you permission to continue lying when asked that question from the general public. Not everyone needs to know your junk, especially if they are a casual encounter or someone that lacks wisdom. Sharing your life with just anyone can result in further damage, so be wise in this area.

But secondly, this message, this blog is about being real. As I mentioned earlier, the vision of Sandals Church is “real with ourselves, God and others.” I have found, alongside thousands of other people at church, that healing begins when we get real with our lives. It begins first with our selves, second with confession to God and finally a disclosure of our full selves to another person. Yes it can be (and often is) embarrassing to share our dirty, deeply held secrets, but the payoff if monumental. If you have a desire to grow and heal in your life, I can absolutely promise you that being real is a major key to breaking through the barriers that keep you from full restoration.

Yes, I may be a liar. And, I confess it! But I am learning to risk being real, especially with people that I know love me and want to see me grow. As the years have waded on, my lying has given way to being “real” and has shown up in many more of my conversations. The kicker? Scores of people come to me about getting real with their lives, and I’m seeing them heal left and right. It is no shortage of beauty to experience lives changing.

Love you guys! Praying for you, please pray for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sad True Story…

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A true story…

A pastor friend of mine was recently awakened to the desperate appeal of stammered knocking on his front door just after 3am.  His wife had woken up mere moments before to a terrible nightmare.  Obviously something was happening in the spiritual realm, but was not obvious to this point.  After sliding the safety lock over, he slowly cracked open the door and saw a young woman standing before him; shaking, worried and clearly disturbed.  In a panic, she relayed that someone was after her and that she needed to get inside quickly.  My friend, with a flash prayer and a moment of godly risk-taking clarity, slid back the lock, opened the door and proceeded to allow her entrance into his safe place.  It was as if God himself told him to make way for her.

As they began to talk, she was plainly a woman of the streets.  Her behavior was suspicious and she was out of touch with reality.  Abuse, drugs and a long hard life had taken their toll, both emotionally and physically.  In short, her life was in shambles and she was in need of desperate healing.

Their conversation took many twists and turns.  My pastor friend inquired where she lived so that he could get her a lift home.  Although she seriously needed his help, her past didn’t allow her to fully trust him and when she found out he was a pastor, her reply was unexpected, “I was raped by a pastor from the ages of 4 to 6.  Everyone is safe at the beginning.”  This broke my friends heart nearly to tears, but he knew God brought her there for a reason.  The cab eventually arrived to take her home to her mom and the very next day, this pastor worked diligently to get her into a rehab facility that could help her begin overcoming her addictions.

24 hours later, her skepticism turned to astonished gratitude as she sent him a text thanking him for what he had done.  She said that he was the first man that had ever treated her with such “genuine care and dedication.”

Many stories don’t end this way and the reality is, we do not ultimately know how this one will end.  But my friend was faithful; faithful to Jesus and faithful to this woman.  But, I turn my thoughts to two people. Those that are in need of healing, and those that are called to heal people.

It would probably be safe to say that all of us need healing on some level; maybe in our marriage, finances, physical body, loneliness, depression, substance abuse or other areas.  If I might be so bold and tell you that Jesus wants to bring healing into your life.  It doesn’t matter what you’re facing, Jesus desires to heal you.  And this sounds like such a crazy thing to say, but Jesus absolutely promises healing.

There are scores of verses in the Bible that talk directly to healing.  I do not believe anyone knows how many people Jesus healed, but my guess is that it reaches into the tens of thousands based on his 3 years of ministry.  People literally fell at His feet and were healed the moment they touched him.  The apostles went on to write about the power of healing.  We see in James 5:14 a call to the elders of the church to anoint and heal those that are sick.  Over and over we see that God is into healing.  He wants to do an incredible, yes even miraculous work in all of our lives.

A word of caution though:  Healing may not look like what you think it should.  Healing comes in many different forms and for many different purposes.  There is a staggering mystery to God which leaves many of us asking why, instead of pressing into God for comfort.  Many of my own loved ones have been healed by entering into heaven; not quite the outcome we were praying for.  Truth is that healing often looks very different than what we expect or want.  But you need to really get something here…

God desires to heal you, however you must be open to his method of healing.

  • Does that mean that my marriage may not be put back together?  Maybe.
  • Does that mean my business might fail?  It might.
  • Does that mean I won’t have any children?  That’s very possible.

So why pray?  What am I actually asking of God when I ask for healing?

Those are great questions.  I have a personal take on this simply from my own experiences.  I believe there is a very simple answer, but it may be hard to grasp.  God’s greatest desire is to be as close to you as he possibly can.  He loves you and is looking for a deep relationship with you.  As you experience tragedy, difficulty and pain, God is yearning for you to connect with him so that he can heal you and your situation, but more importantly, so that you would come closer together.  I believe the most important part of that equation is his closeness to you.

Do not doubt, your healing will come.  Your life absolutely will get better, but it hinges on your relationship to God through his son Jesus.  As we pursue God through our tears, our closeness is the greatest healing we could ever receive.  As God heals us and our situation, we begin to see him much more clearly and our desire moves away from the healing and into our relationship with Jesus; where our deepest desires are fulfilled.

There is another side to this equation and that is a quick word to those called to heal people.  If you call yourself a Christian (a follower of Jesus), then you are in the business of healing people, period. The Bible makes it clear that we are to be imitators of God. Jesus healed people. He healed a LOT of people. And if you are to be imitators of Him, then roll up your sleeves and begin healing people.

Some of you are asking, “How on earth can I heal anyone? I don’t have those gifts.” Ah, but you do! Every one of us are gifted to be like Jesus if we love him and serve him. Here’s how you heal people. Are you ready for this?

You spend time with them, pray over them, sacrifice your personal time for them, share your life with them, encourage them, provide for them, challenge them, invite them in and most of all, LOVE THEM!

When we give of ourselves to people, they heal. When we allow ourselves to be totally inconvenienced for the sake of people, they heal. When we give up making life about US, people around us will heal. We are called to heal the lost, lonely, hurting and disconnected.  Maybe we all need to take a moment to evaluate our lives.

Are you the kind of “Christian” that walks in and out of church, never really taking the time to love others, avoid getting into deep conversations with those in pain and makes everything about what makes you happy?  If so, you are most likely not healing people.

Healing others takes real sacrifice.  It can mean taking a phone call just as you crawl into bed.  You may have to endure meeting after meeting with someone that doesn’t seem to be “getting it.”  Your day off may end up being a day where all your plans have changed because someone needs help.  At its purest form, we are to live a life of total surrender to God’s calling.  That is the picture of a healer.

The pastor I mentioned in the story above lives out that vision of sacrifice and healing.  He could have left the door shut, told everyone in the house to be quiet and waited for the young girl to go away, but he didn’t.  He answered the call.  She needed healing and he provided it for her.  This all begs two very simple questions that we all need to wrestle with.

What do I need Jesus to heal in my life today?
How can I begin healing those around me?

Friends, answer those two questions for Jesus and you will unlock a powerful life.