Intimacy, authentic, community. These are my favorite buzz words around the church these days. They are the things that all of us long for, but few of us really live into. Sure, we all have friends and people to do things with, and many of us have people who we can share some deeper parts of our lives with. But few, if any of us, have people who we are willing to bear it all in front of.
At a recent conference, we broke into small groups and were asked to share some of things God was doing in our lives. In the limited time I found my self struggling to get deeper than in an inch below the surface. After I was done sharing and before we prayed, a good friend of mine said she had a word for me. GET NAKED!
It is so easy for me to live on the surface and to become someone who love tasks and accolades for my performance. But in all of us there is a deep current that flows below the surface. This is our true self. It is not about what we do, but about who we are. And when we live in community, this is the person we are invited to share.
I spent the night wrestling with what it might mean for me to get naked. I found myself going through a common process that helps me get from hidden to known, from brokenness to healing, from defending my ego to resting in identity.
- React: Get pissed! Something, anything can set me off. If my first reaction is anger or bitterness then I know something is up. I heard a speaker who set me off after just one sentence. It is so easy to belittle that person, to get angry and to start tearing them down. (in my mind of course) But the awful truth is that what is going on actually has nothing to do with the speaker, a boss, a friend, or (insert person here _______) Anger and bitterness is just the symptom of a deeper problem.
- Wrestle: What is this all about? This is the defining question. What is my anger or bitterness really about. These emotions are easy, figuring out their root cause is the challenge. Changing our stance from pointing the finger at someone else and exploring the deeper issue is the beginning of figuring out what is up with our deeper selves. It is the recognition that our clothes are dirty and we need to take them off.
- Reveal: The true area of hurt and brokenness. I love the reacting piece of this process and am actually pretty good at it. I am slowly getting more and more comfortable with the wrestling piece. But the part that is really challenging is the reveal piece. After wrestling with why I was so offended at our speaker I realized that he just happened to hit a nerve. And the truth was he exposed emotions that I don’t like to deal with. My feelings were hurt and my ego was bruised by some things that happened earlier that week and the speaker just set me off.
- Rest: This is me . . . I thought just identifying the deeper issues was a huge success. But I found that sharing my true self, my dark, egotistical, broken, sinful side with someone is where I found true freedom. What a gift it is to bear it all and still be loved and cared for. When someone else knows those dark and broken places, then we can stop putting so much energy into pretending and covering up and we get to rest. Rest in true community.
It is so hard to get naked. But until we are willing to trust others with the core of who we are, we will forever be spinning our wheels, attempting to cover and hide our nakedness with our ever changing clothes. It is a lie from the pit of hell that people won’t love us if they knew who we really are. At some point we need to have people in our lives who we can stop pretending with and who we can take off our pride and our ego, and reveal our true selves, in all our broken glory. Then we will be truly free to live into the whole people God has created us to be.
Who are those people in your life? Where do you find them?