I took a break from blogging/e-mailing for most of the day yesterday because I am truly being overwhelmed by the number of responses and the intensity with which this subject has hit so many people. Plus, it’s kind of a busy week around here. So I just needed to unplug for a bit.
I’m really impressed with those of you who do this all the time. It truly is an overwhelming thing to deal with daily blogposts and responses. But I am going to push on til the end because I really am enjoying everyone’s thoughts. And I really do want to understand this whole thing better.
So for today, I want to clarify a few things. I did use the example of how people act at church in the first post implying that I think everyone should be real all the time in all situations no matter how public. That is not what I intended to say. I used the example of church because it is the most familiar to me, and I do think that it should be a place where we should be able to say in response to “how are you?”, “Well, I’m not so good today. I sure could use some prayer.” If someone presses you to share more, it’s certainly your decision whether or not this is someone you feel comfortable opening up with. On the flip side, I also think we should be able to say, “I’m doing great. Let me tell you what God’s been doing in me,” without it being seen as arrogance.
I’m also going to try to be clearer about not referring to church as the event where we worship on Sundays. I believe the definition of church is the people who make up the body of Christ. I have heard the term used the other way for so much of my life that it’s hard for me to quit using it that way as well, so I tend to use it interchangeably. But I’m going to try to only use the word “church” to refer to it’s true meaning.
Another subject I want to address that Amy brought up in yesterday’s comments is the fact that we are all created differently. Some of us just do not feel the need to share deeply with anyone. I do not want to imply that it is wrong to be that way. However, I have found by the overwhelming response I’ve received this week that there are many, many people out there looking for close relationships and not finding them.
Another common theme among the responses I’ve received is how so many people have experienced hurt the times that they have opened up. Everything from something being told in confidence making the gossip chain to people quickly being shut down by Christian cliches, such as “True Christians do not have those kinds of problems.” This infuriates me and breaks my heart at the same time. Gossip is a disease, and we are the only ones who can choose to stop it. The many cliched responses used to shut anyone down who shares in a way that makes us feel uncomfortable are just wrong in my opinion and have no place among God’s people.
One other thing I need to clarify. God is the only One who is able to meet all of our deepest needs and longings. We cannot expect every need to be met by people because people are imperfect and will always let you down eventually. I would encourage everyone to turn to God FIRST with every care, worry, concern. He cares deeply about even the smallest events in our lives. He always has time to listen and is always waiting, even longing, to hear from us. I did not say this starting out. I just assumed it was a given. I guess I needed to.
Along that line, I will share an example of how God has taught me to turn to Him first. I have struggled in the past with immediately calling a friend whenever I’m stressed or upset. I am blessed to have two dear people I can call about pretty much anything, but sadly, neither of them live close. One is my dear sister Christy, and one is a dear friend of 20 years this year, Angie. (Sorry, Angie, I’m being revealing about our age.) Both of these people have proven themselves trustworthy over the years and I know that each of them are striving to follow God and will give me insight from that perspective as well as just helping me to see things from a different viewpoint. Sometimes I would even go down my list of friends to call because I do have other friends I can call if I don’t get Christy or Angie. Strangely enough, there began to be times when I would go down my list and no one would be available to talk. So I finally GOT IT–that God wants me to turn to Him first. So know whenever I’m upset and I think, “I need to call…”, it’s a cue to talk to God. Then there have been other times when I was so low I couldn’t even make the effort to call anyone, and God had them call me. He’s so awesome!!
Having said all of that, I think that we can agree on several things:
1. God is the only one who can meet every need.
2. There are many people out there looking for and even longing for deeper relationships but not finding them.
3. The people to whom we reveal the deepest parts of ourselves should be chosen with care and wisdom.
4. Deep sharing works best one-on-one or in a small group(and by small, I mean tiny, probably less than 8 people, and that may still be too big).
5. One other thing discussed in the comments which I believe to be true, sharing parts of ourselves encourages others to be courageous enough to do the same.