Thursday, June 19, 2014

Admitting our faults

There is great significance in admitting our faults and mistakes.

I am the type of person who hates to be told I have done something wrong. I get all defensive, my chest gets a bit puffier, my eyes get all evil, and I get all bitter because someone's actually caught onto the fact I'm not perfect. How dare they.

I like to build the facade of perfection around me. I have a checklist of items that I hope adds up to creating this mask of perfection - volunteering, intelligence, loyalty to friends and family, time reading my bible, giving money to charity, etc. It's a nice checklist, don't you think?

But the truth is that I am not perfect. That I make mistakes all the time. I probably call myself an idiot about 5-10 times a day because I think of something I've done (or just currently did) and think, "Opps, I hope they don't hate me."

I used to hide those mistakes. Those parts of myself that would ruin my facade of perfection. I thought people would see the ugliness inside of me, the darkness that I was hiding and go, "Aha! I caught you", and tell everyone.

But I believe this in itself is a great mistake, because my unwillingness to show people my errors is actually my unwillingness to be vulnerable with people. To say, Hey look - I am actually human like you.

There is great humility required to admit our mistakes. We must suffer the consequences for them, we must make amends, we must move forward and say, Let's try not to do that again. It's embarassing, it's messy, it's easy to shove under the rug and pretend as if it never happened. But courage comes in our admission of fault and the responsibility required to step up and confess.

The bible says Pride comes before a fall, but God honours the humble. Perhaps it is because the humble recognize their own position at the foot of the cross. They are already fallen - in a prostrate position before Jesus, and remember first how much grace they themselves need and that it is the same grace everyone else needs. No one is better or worse, and having that attitude gives us the chance to love people no matter the cost, to suffer for them (or because of them), and to serve them with a heart that knows no boundaries.

We are marred with mistakes. And God finds beauty in showing them freely to the world and letting everyone see how He is pouring into you through them.

In the words of the sultry voiced Leonard Cohen, "Ring the bells that can still ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Faith like marriage

It's a beautiful thing to meet a new Christian. They are so excited to be living for God, they want to live inspiring lives, love with an uncompromising love. It is so beautiful to see and I always look at them, and feel even further inspired to go back to God and get equally excited about him too. Because I know they've just met the love of their lives and I have the same chance to experience this great love too.

But at the same time, I see many "old-time" Christians who seem less excited about their faith. They aren't in wonder or ready for an adventure. They are comfortable, perhaps. Or they know about the much greater journey ahead of the honeymoon phase.

Faith reminds me a bit like marriage. There is the "dating" phase - you're learning more about the person, getting all giddy and romantic, but still deciding if this is the person you want to commit your life to for the rest of your life. This would be classified as the "seeker" stage - you're looking more into this Christian faith thing and wondering if you believe it and want to be part of it. Then there is the wedding and the honeymoon. You're both floating on air and everyone around you sees it. You pretty much are little balls of sunshine, glowing and beaming with happiness wherever you turn. This is the immediate stage after accepting Christ.

Then comes the marriage itself. And it seems to go in two directions.

There will - guaranteed - always be hardships in marriage. There's going to be times of sadness, mourning, fighting, confession. And it's the valleys that sober you to the cost of the relationship - which there is one. We cannot go through life without understanding that the very best things, the things that make us worthy of ourselves, are the ones that have some cost to them.

And this is where the dividing factor happens.

There will be some that leave the marriage. They grow distant, they make choices they shouldn't, things grow old to them. Off to a new adventure - they say - leaving behind something that could have been oh so beautiful, however costly it may have been to work on the repairs.

And then there are those who stick it out. Who work it out. Who celebrate their 10th, their 20th, their 35th, and then their 50th wedding anniversary, the whole time knowing that it was worth it. That in this - they have found something worth the cost, worth the hardship, and worth the love that comes out of working through it all. Recommiting their life to them over and over and over, and saying I do, every day of their life.

What a beautiful thing that is!

Friday, June 6, 2014

On sincerity and helping others

Sincerity drives, fills up, feels, knows.

It is surprising how often I question a person's sincerity, their genuine motive behind a compliment, a question, an action, a word. I'm sure others do the same for me.  They should.

I've been thinking back to a Thoreau quote lately from his book Walden, where he says "Rather than love, money, or fame, give me truth." (Sorry for any error - quoting from a flawed memory here) He goes on to say that he sat at a banquet with a large feast and company, but walked away hungry because he heard no truth. No sincerity in conversation.

An invisible mask is never invisible. It is felt - deeply and surely - by everyone around us. It leaves the heart empty, and wondering if the one-sided attempt for real conversation was worth initiating in the first place.

I've realized that some of my favourite people, the people that fill my heart with warmth and smiles, are the ones that are sincere. Often, they are also the wild ones, the innocent ones, the sarcastic ones, the ones that people see as abrasive and rude, or just a bit strange, but I think they are pretty darn awesome because at the end of the day, I trust them to be honest and sincere with me about what they think. They fill me up. I understand and trust them in a way that I can't for someone else.

Sincerity bridges a crucial divide between you and another person: Trust. And I do believe this is the starting point for any kind of deep, real relationship - whether it be friendship, family, or your present or future teammate in marriage.

Here's one more thought: how sincere are you to someone on the street, in need, in fear, on the margins (sic). Are we pretending to be counsellors, aides, "fixers" to help them with their problems, or are we sincere about the fact that we're no better than them in any sense and just as broken. That if we had lived their same experience, with the same sinful starting point all of us share, we could and would probably be in the same spot. We may have more money, and perhaps the strings tying our broken heart pieces together are laced a bit tighter, but we are the same. We are human. We are broken. And we need to be sincere about it. Not superior.


I'll be working on it.