By Lori Harding
I saw a friend at church several weeks ago and as we passed each other that Sunday morning, he asked how I was. I know him pretty well. He is in the community group my husband and I have been attending for several years. Although I was crumbling inside, I gave him the cursory response. You know the one I’m talking about. “I’m fine”, coupled with a polite smile.
I wrestled with that brief exchange all day and into the next morning. I cringed when I thought about my response. This young man had no idea what I was going through and would never know. I believe he was genuinely asking the question to find out how I really was. Why would I think any differently?
The question raged in my mind. Am I so conditioned to believe that everyone at church is simply just making random conversation, all the while considering what they’ll be ordering at Starbucks after the sermon?
Call me Pollyanna, but I really do think most people truly care. If that is the case, why is it so hard for me to tell the truth and so easy to respond with a lie?
Being Okay With Not Being Okay
Let’s face it—the truth is that for most of us, most of the time, we are not okay. And even when we think we are, we really aren’t. We’ve just managed to bury and shove to the rear those thoughts, feelings, fears and doubts that would consume us otherwise. We compartmentalize our struggling marriage, an abusive past or the rebellious child who has yet again zapped every last ounce of patience we think we have. That’s exactly what I did that morning. But this time was different. In the past I would have skipped on my merry way without a second thought. But God loves me so much that he would not let me get away with the fakeness I’d grown comfortable with. The next morning driving in to work all I could think about was calling my friend. Not in a guilt ridden way, but in a freeing way.
Christ’s Work for the Not Okay
God has been teaching me more and more about his love for me and what he has accomplished through Christ’s finished work on the cross. Christ came to set a sinner like me free. Even though I am a lying mess, he loves me still, and his love assures me that I am free—free to admit I’m a liar, a fake and a mess. And free to trust in his finished work to cleanse me.
It was a hard call to make, but a profound one for me. I told my friend that I lied when I told him I was fine on Sunday. I told him of my marriage struggle and I shared my heart. I asked him to pray for us and I know that he did and continues to. Out of honesty came exceeding abundance!
I want that in every area of my life because there is nothing sweeter than knowing Christ and the freedom he died for on my behalf. It’s so hard because it’s not our nature. It’s not our default. I am moment by moment tempted to believe the lie that I have to pretend in order to be in control, gain approval and respect, and guarantee my security.
Christ said it is for freedom I have set you free. Friend, you are free. Free to love, free to serve, free to be who you really are. Free to admit fault and weakness and failure.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
Lori Harding is married with one son. She is on staff with Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church as their Director of Care Ministries and Women’s Support. She writes for The Good News FL and LIBERATE.net, seeking to connect the gospel to the everyday realities of life. She blogs at Set Free and you can follow her on twitter at @lorilharding.
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