At fourteen, I willingly opened the door of my apartment to a thirty-six-year-old drug dealer -- and he raped me. At fifteen I was arrested for shoplifting. By seventeen I had been in drug rehab --twice. At nineteen, I left my three-year-old son with my mother and moved to Michigan, then Washington, DC, and didn’t return home for four months. At twenty, I joined the ARMY, signed up for six years, yet served less than three before chaptering out. By twenty-two I was pregnant, out of wedlock, for the second time. In March 2008 I received a DUI, and in December 2011, I was nearly kicked out of law school for my “failure to disclose.”
Even just this morning, I awoke, asked the Lord for an opportunity to bless someone, and he snapped back with that same unnerving response as always: “Start with treating your own mother right.”
I raise my voice on Sunday mornings over things of great import like misplaced socks and spilled cheerios -- and then head off to teach Sunday school.
At times, I’ve wished people were dead and, on occasion, I’ve wished it was me.
Secrets sit in the dark, smoky corners of our lives, reminding us who we “really are.”
But secrets lie.
They hide in darkness -- terrified of Light; because they’re fearful we may catch a glimpse of what they really are: empty suits, paper tigers, tin gods.
I freely tell you all those ugly things about me (and believe me, there is more) because I’ve discovered that my identity doesn’t lie in any mistakes I’ve made, or will make.
I’ll never forget the first time I read the quote, “Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Everyone, even the people who have hurt us, or more likely, especially the people who have hurt us, are wrestling with their own pains, longings, desires, fears, failures, secrets and sin.
Whether you have told one white lie, stolen money, hated or murdered, you have something in common with every human being in existence: you’re desperately in need of a Savior.
And that is our great equalizer.
My secrets don’t haunt me. I don’t hide from them, and I genuinely don’t care what you think about them. Why should I? My identity does not rest in them, or in your opinion of them, but rather in the traces of grace that they leave behind.
The last thing our world needs is more Christians pretending. Pretending to have it all together, pretending to be good, to be pious, or to be anything other than a mere vessel of His mercy. Christianity is not about behavior modification, but is all about throwing ourselves headlong into his consuming, yet tender, embrace.
John Piper says it like this:
“I think it is virtually impossible to honestly say that knowing God, as God intends to be known by his people in the new covenant, simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance with God.
Not in a million years is that what “knowing God” means here.
This is the knowing of a lover, not a scholar. A scholar can be a lover. But a scholar—or a pastor—doesn’t know God until he is a lover.
You can know about God by research; but until the researcher is ravished by what he sees, he doesn’t know God for who he really is. And that is one great reason why many pastors can become so impure. They don’t know God—the true, massive, glorious, gracious, biblical God.
The humble intimacy and brokenhearted ecstasy—giving fire to the facts—is not there.”
We have no reason to sugarcoat our lives, or to put up facades; for the one opinion that truly matters, already knows our innermost being, and He loves us anyway.
If we, as Christians, would rip off our masks and start getting real, raw, and unadulterated about who we are and where we have come from, then maybe, people would no longer look at us and simply see another self-righteous, hypocritical person, claiming to have all the answers to their ills -- but instead, maybe, just maybe, through our fears, they'd see His strength; through our mourning, His gladness; through our despair, His peace, and through our ashes, they would begin to see His ravishing beauty.