Thursday, September 30, 2010

What if -this- was what churches were doing?

Original blog post here:  The Disease Called Perfection.  I'd suggest reading it all, because it's amazing, but here's an excerpt:
Here's your wake-up call:

You aren't the only one who feels worthless sometimes.

You aren't the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today.

You aren't the only one who isn't making enough money to support your lifestyle.

You aren't the only one who has questions and doubts about your religion.

You aren't the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.

You aren't the only one who feels trapped in your marriage.

You aren't the only one who gets down and hates yourself and you can't figure out why.

You aren't the only one that questions your sexual orientation.

You aren't the only one who hates your body.

You aren't the only one that can't control yourself around food.

Your husband is not the only husband who's addiction sends him online for his sexual fulfillment instead of to you.

Your wife is not the only wife that is mean and vindictive and makes you hate yourself.

Why didn't somebody, anybody, put their arm around that 12-year old boy and let him know that they loved him and would always love him? What was he being told and taught that he would end his own life over something that almost no teenager can control? Maybe that beautiful and wonderful boy would still be alive if even one person had broken down the "Perfection" that completely controlled all those in his life from whom he desperately craved validation.

Why didn't somebody, anybody, tell a beautiful pregnant girl that there was nothing so big in life that it couldn't be made right. Maybe that incredible young woman would still be alive. Maybe her now one-year-old child would be learning to walk or say "Mommy" right now. Maybe.


The cure is so simple.

Be real.

Be bold about your weaknesses and you will change people's lives. Be honest about who you actually are, and others will begin to be their actual selves around you. Once you cure yourself of the disease, others will come to you, asking if they can just "talk". People are desperate to talk. Some of the most "perfect" people around you will tell you of some of the greatest struggles going on. Some of the most "perfect" people around you will break down in tears as they tell you how difficult life is for them. Turns out some of the most "perfect" people around us are human beings after all, and are dying to talk to another human being about it.

You'll love them for it. And you'll love yourself even more.

And I thought:

What if churches had the boldness to do this?  What if pastors did?  What if we stepped down from the pulpit, sat on the steps to the altar, faced the congregation, and came clean about all the things that make us weep about ourselves?

There are 1,677 comments on that post.  It's been up for nine days.  People are hungry for this.  There is need.  There is a need to be imperfect and to be okay.

I feel it myself.  How many people follow this blog?  Maybe three or four?  Emily and Val have both commented; I have a couple fellow Tumblrs; Anne's got it in her RSS feed, I think.  So there's a few, but not many.  Many of you reading this know me intimately, and the rest of the world won't read this, and yet I can't find the courage to write what makes me weep.

I will - if forced - privately and intimately confess to tested friends about a "sickness unto death" which plagued me in high school.  I will confess to this only in metaphor, and only because it is "cured."

In non-metaphoric terms:  I fought deep depression.  It was so consuming that I could not function socially, to the point of skipping school once a week; so paralyzing that I spent an entire summer on the couch watching the same three Bogart and Bacall movies every day, because I could not find the inner strength to move; so crippling that I, an honors math & science student, nearly flunked calculus and physics because math suddenly eluded me.  The darkness manifested in food binges, self-mutilation, and trichotillomania.  I ended my junior year of high school with a trip to the ER after an overdose of painkillers.

The reasons for the darkness are varied, and too much to discuss here.  The road to recovery was much more complicated than psychiatric treatment, but not so long as I had expected; and life is far too good now to ever look back.

I am healthy now, but I am only healthy because I have learned to be.  The social terror and anxiety walks beside me every day, questioning my friendships, critiquing my appearance, whispering self-loathing in my ear.  I keep it at bay only by the hand of God.

This is all over, and yet I cannot bear to bare these scars.

Terror strikes me as I write:  how can I dare to post this?  What if my candidacy committee sees it, or a possible CPE supervisor, or any of my barely-minted friends?  Or anyone?  The sickness unto death hovers near me, whispering:  They will know.  They will find you unfit to be a candidate for ministry.  How can you lead when you are so unimaginably unfit?  How can you dare to love and be loved when you are so wholly unlovable?

What else can I do?  Should I cover these scars, pretend that all is well - pretend that my entire daily existence is not wholly dependent on the saving love of Christ who stood over me for years, calling "Talitha cum, talitha cum, talitha cum!"

I cannot.

Whatever I may fear from baring these scars, the truth remains that Christ covers them.  Where I bled, He bled more.  Where I wept, He was.

And I survive each and every day purely and only by the grace of God who has grabbed my hands and dragged me through to love.

This is most certainly true.

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