I’m not known for taking the time to weigh out all the consequences of my decisions. I’m typically of the mindset of hey, why the hell not? versus give me a while to process it and I’ll get back to you with a sound and well thought out plan.
So, when Eric asked me to write this ridiculously personal and vulnerable post for his blog, I did as I usually do and only briefly considered the consequences of it:
People will read it. And they will know these terrible things about you. But that’s okay, because everyone who reads your blog already knows everything about you. Yeah. I guess you’re right. Alright. Let’s do it.
So I texted him back with an affirmative.
As usual, there were some heavy consequences I did not take into consideration, mainly the fact that it would be on Eric’s blog, not mine, and, therefore, read by his readers and not necessarily just mine.
Do you know who reads Eric’s blog? I sure do now — at least half the congregation of our 500+ person church, for which my husband works, for one.
I had a handful of people, some I knew and some I didn’t, come up to me and tell me how influential that post was. Not because I’m a phenomenal writer or anything (though if anyone wishes to come forward with that sentiment I’ll most certainly accept) but because it shattered their perceptions of me.
At first, that was really hard to accept. To know that there were people out there who used to think I was one way (not flawed, I guess) and were now aware of just how broken I am made me feel exposed, naked, and ashamed. I thought about Adam and Eve in the garden:
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
— Genesis 3:7-10
Though God knew Adam and Eve completely, they were ashamed to be seen because of their brokenness. That’s how I felt about everyone who read the blog post. Suddenly, even people who didn’t know me now knew my brokenness. And people are a lot less forgiving than God is.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t the worst of it for me. The most shattered, naked, and ashamed I ever felt was actually a couple of years ago. Ironically, it was in front of the same guy who asked me to write about growth on his blog.
He was my ministry liaison at the time, so he and I were having a ministry meeting over lunch at Red Lobster. (A side note: despite the restaurant being literally two minutes from my work, I haven’t been back to Red Lobster for lunch since then because I’m afraid I’ll have the same waitress.) We were talking about ministry, yes, but mostly, it was a meeting about how I was making some pretty terrible life choices and should probably get my act together. (Are we shocked? No? Okay.)
Not the most uplifting conversation to have over my lunch hour, even when accompanied by endless cheddar bay biscuits.
“I just want you to be proud of me,” I gulped between mouthfuls, “and I feel like every time I do something wrong, I’m one step closer to losing you as well as the other people around me who love me.”
“Why?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged in defeat. Then, without warning, I let the big one fly. “I guess it’s because my father left me or something.”
The rest of the lunch was awkward and painful because I couldn’t stop crying. I was so naked. So exposed. So ashamed of everything about me. Every time the waitress came by and refilled my water I had to pretend my face wasn’t red and stained with streaks of black mascara. I’m not sure she bought it.
The great thing about these situations, both the blog and the Lunch That Will Forever Remain in Infamy, is that neither time was I met with a negative reaction. At Red Lobster, Eric was unbelievably graceful (even though he probably felt ten times as awkward and weird as I did) and, concerning the blog, everyone who read it was really supportive and, more often than not, had actually experienced similar things. Many people said that they felt relief and safety and grace because of the vulnerability of my writing.
The way I see it, no one has ever gotten anywhere by pretending to be perfect. If anything, we just get farther and farther away from the beauty of grace and redemption that we were created to experience. By pretending we don’t need grace, we never truly learn how to give or receive it. And that, I believe, is one of the biggest falls mankind can experience in this life on earth.
That said, I know there are things about you that aren’t perfect. Not because I personally know you, but because I know that the only perfect Man who ever lived has already died, risen, and ascended to his Throne. So. Since that’s obviously not you, you’ve got to be broken somehow:
Whatever it is that has “broken” you, or made you “ashamed,” know that grace is real. And you can’t receive it until you realize that you oh-so-desperately need it. And that might mean shattering some perceptions of yourself. Maybe to others. But mostly to you.
What perceptions of yourself do you need to shatter?