Unless you were born just today (in which case you can’t read this blog), you have a past. Chances are your past includes some trial or suffering. Have you experienced depression, cancer, or some other serious illness that carries a stigma? Have you lost a baby to miscarriage or a child to an accident? Have you lost a job or suffered financial reversals?
Or maybe you’ve done some things you’re not proud of in the past, but have put that behavior in the past. Perhaps you’ve struggled with drug addiction or alcoholism? Maybe you’ve led a life of crime but now you are making an honest living? Have you had an abortion and feel guilty for the life you ended? Have you lied about a friend or family member and caused them serious consequences?
If any of these situations describes you, and you know at least one of them does, you might be afraid to let anyone know. Even if you’ve turned your life around, or maybe especially if you have, you may fear what your upstanding friends will think. You may be hiding behind a masquerade of a life of perfection. You may think that there is no good reason to let anyone know what’s in your past because what’s done is done.
This week as I thought about My Tuesday Three, I was reminded of three posts I have read recently that touch on this topic of hiding behind a façade of perfection.
The first post I want to showcase is by Linda over at Shoes for an Imaginary Life titled I wear dark glasses so you won’t see me. . . This is Linda’s first poem to be published on her blog, but I am looking forward to more. (You might notice that her blog is not at WordPress – I decided to branch out a bit.) The poem begins:
I quickly can disguise myself,
the friend you cannot see.
Whose eyes are covered stylishly
behind the shades, that’s me.
What’s interesting is that on her blog, Linda takes off the shades and reveals much about her past. She also shares how God rescued her from the frivolous life she once led. She is a great encouragement to others who may be lost as she once was.
The second post I want to showcase is by Jim over at BlessedDad’s Weblog titled A Safe Place. Jim tells the story of a woman who came to the prayer room at his church, but was afraid of her façade being pierced by someone she knew. Jim writes:
She then told me that she had gone to church here for twenty years, and knew a lot of people, but in a church our size, you can still get lost in the crowd. The reason she kept looking over her shoulder was because she was afraid someone she knew would see her in the prayer room and tell her husband. I tried to encourage her that it doesn’t matter what people think, it only matters what God thinks, but she found no solace in my assurances. She was desperate for spiritual rescue, yet afraid someone would see her in her weakness and think less of her, and pass that on to her spouse.
Posts like Jim’s make me wonder what we are doing wrong as a church that people are so afraid to let others know they are having troubles and are in need of prayer. Whatever struggle this woman was experiencing, she truly needed God and the support of her fellow Christians to get through it. She is a story of deliverance waiting to happen and to then be shared with others who are struggling.
The third post I want to showcase is by Char48 over at Learning to Be Still titled Show me faith without actions. . . . Char relates a recent coffee date with a church friend who has no knowledge of the struggle with major depression that she has suffered through in the past year. Somehow the topic of depression comes up, but Char doesn’t share her own experience and how God has helped her through. But the coffee date conversation got her thinking. She sums up her post with this:
Part of me wonders how the conversation would have gone, if I had said, ‘that post viral thing I had, wasn’t post viral at all, it was depression, but I came through it, as most people do‘. Stereotypes only change when they’re challenged and taboos only diminish when they’re discussed. Being a Christian with depression is tough. I want to be part of the solution. Depression is now part of my history, part of my faith, a scar on my skin, a mark on my map. I thank God every day for keeping me alive through it – but as James’ book says (I love James), what good are words or faith without actions? I’ve got a choice now, as to whether I paint over the last year, or actively use it as a testimony to God’s hand in my life. Faith without action is a dead faith. Seems the choice is a clear one.
Sharing our past can be scary, but I think that to love our neighbors as ourselves we have to share. I don’t mean that we walk around wearing a sandwich board that says, “I survived depression” or “I used to be a drug addict, but God saved me.” But I think we have to be ready and willing to share as the Spirit leads. You never know if the woman sitting on the park bench in dark glasses, or the man quietly seated in the pew next to you at church, or the friend sharing a cup of coffee with you is in desperate need of encouragement. They may be struggling from some trial that you, with the help of God, have survived. They may be hiding behind in their own stained glass masquerade for fear of what you will think. If you let down your own façade, perhaps you can be God’s instrument to help them survive and even thrive.