Remember the episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy finds out she’s pregnant (which you weren’t allowed to say on 1950’s TV, by the way; you had to say you were “having a baby”), and she keeps trying to tell Ricky but every time she tries, something goes wrong? Eventually she surprises him at his night club and he sings “We’re Having a Baby, My Baby and Me”, and Lucy cries the entire time. No matter how many times I see that episode, it still makes me cry. It’s a very touching episode because Lucille Ball was actually pregnant at the time, so that song held special significance for them in real life, and you can tell her tears come from real emotion. That moment isn’t scripted, it’s genuine. Scripted tears just wouldn’t have the same impact, I’m sure.
I wonder to what degree the same holds true in our walk with God? There’s tremendous pressure in the Christian community to have all your “stuff” together. The Christian community has a lot of “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”: you should pray and read your Bible every day, you shouldn’t cuss or drink, you should always be pleasant and nice, you shouldn’t have any weaknesses. Particularly if you are in any level of leadership, the pressure to present the most perfect version of yourself can be quite overwhelming. Some are better at putting on this mask than others. There’s a real fear that if people saw what we really struggle with, think, or feel, they might not believe our relationship with God is real. They might condemn us or judge us (and how sad is it that our first expectation is for our brothers and sisters in Christ to judge us instead of love and encourage us in our areas of weakness?). I can’t help but wonder, though: what if we were really real? If people saw us being genuine, faults and all, how might that impact their walk with God differently than if we present a “perfect” but more shallow version of ourselves? I wonder if being more real might encourage others to do the same. Keeping our weaknesses and struggles secret is what gives them power over us. What if we were all able to share our imperfections with others? How might that help us, and them, deal with those things so that we can get free? How might that lead us and them towards deeper healing?
Being real requires courage. It also requires faith in God’s ability to deliver us from whatever our weaknesses are and help us grow. Maybe this is an area we all have room for improvement in; to be brave enough to be real, whole people, even when it’s not so pretty. Maybe we can all look for more opportunities to encourage others to do the same.