It’s been nearly ten years since the moment the pretty little world as I knew it was shattered and my life spun out of control due to an unexpected divorce.
You never really recover. Pain changes you. You make new decisions about yourself based on the emotions that exist as a result of the heartbreak. You recognize the risk that comes with allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Whether you realize it or not, you unconsciously guard yourself from being hurt again.
I loved my time in church ministry, insulated in a world that was immersed in “good”. I loved helping others, being a vessel of change in people’s lives, introducing people to a deeper knowledge of Christ and a realization that He specifically loves them regardless of their own choices. I truly believed (and still do) that we don’t earn God’s merit or favor, He loves us because He wants to and He will never leave us.
As a former Pastor’s wife, I invested in the lives of hundreds of people, many of whom I’d say I knew very well. Today I wonder…did I really even know them or did I know the version of them that they wanted me to see?
I walked with other families through heartbreak and devastation, believing that I was seeing the rawest form of who they truly were…but did I even know them or did I know the version of them that they wanted me to see?
How transparent are you? How transparent are others around you?
I remember being in a small group one night and a new believer overwhelmed with excitement began to pray out loud in our prayer circle. I recall the combined looks of horror as the majority of the seasoned Christians eyes flew open when this young man dropped the F-bomb several times while praising God!
I recall chuckling inside and thinking that I most likely was part of the most sincere, transparent prayer ever offered to God that evening. This young man was using his native tongue to talk directly to his Savior and thank him for saving the “f#$%ed up mess of a man” he formerly was. His praise was genuine, pure, non-filtered, unmasked and laced with obscenities and I’m pretty sure God was pleased. He hadn’t descended into the sanitized version of Christianity that requires us to speak in “these” and “thous” and pretend to be incredibly Holy so everyone around us is convinced that we are a better version of ourselves than we really are.
While a Pastor’s wife, I was steeped in the same game of pretend. I made sure that regardless of the situation, the congregation and community saw my life as Holy. I went to great lengths to make sure our family didn’t embarrass Christ. I spent more time worrying about what others thought of me and our family than I spent focused on what Christ thought.
Fast forward to present day: I work full time in administration for the construction trades. My world is no longer insulated. The influence of this world slaps me in the face hundreds of times every day. Each day is a constant battle for my soul and many days it seems like I’m moving backwards not forward in my faith. Yet every time I walk into church, I put on my “good Christian” facade, play the game, and act like everything is OK.
Years ago while immersed in full-time ministry I wrote these words…
Look beyond the mask
Through this great charade I play
Look beyond my words into my heart
Search me Oh God, and know that I am yours
All my life is in your hands
All my desires, all my plans
Every single thing I am, I am Yours.
Yesterday I had a conversation with a new friend and for the first time in 10 years, I was honest. No cover ups or pretending to view things through a super spiritual lens, just raw truth about my present state of mind and my need for Jesus.
Yesterday I tiptoed into the world of transparency.
Yesterday I peeked out from behind the mask.
Yesterday I became who God wants me to be.