AUTHENTICITY-VS-THE CHURCH FACE
We are told to be brave and strong. There are even scriptures where God commands His people to be strong and courageous. Because of this, I think any believers struggle with admitting their weakness or voicing their struggle. When we are faced with choosing authenticity or the “church face”, oftentimes the “church face” wins.
Friends, the struggle is REAL!
I remember when I first began to understand the things of God I was full of zeal that I confused with faith. (Zeal is not faith and oftentimes has little wisdom to go with it!) People would ask me how I was, and I would keep my “church face” on with it big grin and share how blessed and wonderful I was. In reality I was anything BUT wonderful.
I’m not sure if it was something my church taught, or if it was a misconception on my part, but I believed that if I let anyone know of my struggles that is was showing a lack of faith or trust in God.
After all, if God is my hope and my redeemer and I fully accepted and believed that–I couldn’t tell people that I was facing circumstances that seemed hopeless. What would that say about my faith (or lack of it)? What would it do to the faith of those looking to me as an example. I would “lose my testimony” (what ever that is) if I was open and honest with my struggles. In doing this, I chose a “perfectly smiling church face” instead of faith building authenticity.
AUTHENTICITY IN THE FIRE
If you are familiar with my story or have read my first book Shifted Vision you have been “introduced” to my Aunt Connie. After her 19 year old son Christopher died in a car accident in April of 2005, she would have her “church face” on and make comments like, “I’m glad Chris is in Heaven and not here where things can hurt him.” or “I miss Chris, but am happy he is in Heaven with God.”
I was able to see through her “church face” and sat her down one day. I shared these verses:
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”, Luke 12:6-7, NLT
“Lord, you have examined me and know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know my thoughts before I think them. You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it. You are all around me—in front and in back—and have put your hand on me. Your knowledge is amazing to me; it is more than I can understand.”, Psalm 139:1-6, NLT
I hugged her and cried with her, but I also let her know that if God truly knows all about her, then He knows what she is hiding behind her “church face” and that she would not be free until she went to Him with it.
REMOVAL OF THE CHURCH FACE: AUTHENTICITY
I provided a safe place for her on my back patio where she would not be interrupted. She spent several hours out there weeping, at time yelling, and other times just still. God ministered to her heart that she had been hiding behind her “church face”. Her peace became authentic. She still hurt, she still struggled, but she no longer pretended.
AUTHENTICITY BRINGS FREEDOM
As she moved forward, she was able to be authentic with others about her experiences. She was able to earnestly support other parents who lost children. Her faith grew as she allowed God in to those places she had tried so desperately to pretend that weren’t there.
I encourage you, if you are more comfortable with “the church face” than with authenticity with God and others, allow the above scriptures to soak in to the dry places of your heart. We will have struggles, pain, and sorrows. The struggles, pain, and sorrows will affect us. As we authentically bring them to God, our faith grows in the fires that cause them.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Have you mastered the “church face”? Are you ready for the freedom that comes with the authenticity of removing it? How can I pray and support you as you gain the courage to embrace the freedom that comes with authenticity?
This is day 11 of the #write31days challenge where I will be writing a new post each day about having ‘FAITH in the FIRE’. If you don’t want to miss out on any of this series, click here and join my email mailing list. The posts will be delivered into your in-box.
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Wise words Tammy.
CHRISTINE Caine in her book Unashamed said that hurt cannot heal until the pain is revealed. It’s like any grief, you must get past the level of denial to move on.
Mandy, I haven’t read Christine’s book. Thank you for sharing that nugget of truth. I pray we all have the courage to walk authentically with one another and with the Lord!
Such a great post, Tammy. Authenticity makes all the difference in the world. When we hide behind our “church smiles” we aren’t helping ourselves or anyone else. God knows our hearts anyway, and it’s best to bring it all before him. What a beautiful thing you did for the lady in your church, giving her room to get it out. Many blessings to you!
It is an honor to have relationships with people where we can speak truth and life in love and be received. I pray we all develop relationships where we can be trusted to speak in to people’s lives and be received. Authenticity is a key factor in all of our faith walk. Thank you Gayl for stopping by.
Youth need authentic, affirming, and accepting adults in their lives. Authenticity is so important.
Tara, I agree. If we do not set an example of authenticity, how will our youth ever have the courage to trust us with their authentic self?
Thank you Tammy for sharing your heart, your truth and your love for Jesus. It’s true, showing the real face of losing a loved one , especially a child is key to the healing of body, mind, soul & spirit.
Margie, you sound as if you have walked that path. If so, my heart hurts for you deeply! (((HUGS))) You are so right! authenticity is one of the first steps to healing. Thank you for sharing.
Sara@ The Holy Mess says
Beautiful! We must be authentic and let people see that it’s okay for Christians to have struggles and hurts, yet God provides healing and hope. It’s not easy at times, though, especially for those of us in church leadership. Too much sharing can lead to doubts about our ability to lead. But hiding behind a “church face” and not being truthful isn’t good either. There is always a balance. Thank you for this.