[This is the introductory post for a blog I started back in 2008 called “A Fool’s Wisdom.” Once you read it you’ll understand why I called it that. I didn’t follow through with that particular blog, but I like this post and think it’s worth keeping.]
To be perfectly honest, growing up in the church, I thought the Christian life was an act. I knew the demands of the Bible and the Christian life were very great, and I thought it was my job to act like I was the kind of person I was supposed to be. That’s all I knew. I knew me down deep inside, I knew how far I fell below the ideal, but the demands were there, and the only way I knew to meet them was to play the role. I just thought that was what the Christian life was, to pretend to be what you were supposed to be.
To be fair, my pretense was sincere, if you can say that. I was doing the best I could at what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I was working hard to appear to be what my parents and people at church seemed to think I was supposed to be. But I didn’t realize that the Christian life rightly lived is supposed to be the outcome of the heart.
This effort led me to become a pastor. Being a pastor was the highest expression in my life of this pretense that I believed the Christian life was supposed to be. It may very well be that on some level God called me to be a pastor. But even so, the only way I knew to be one was to pretend.
What motivated this pretense? The desire to please. I wanted so badly to please my parents and other people and be who I thought they wanted me to be. And I wanted to please God. Yes, on some level I actually thought God might buy my pretense, too. My facade was also motivated by the fear of rejection: The fear that others and even God would reject me if they knew who I really was inside.
Pretending eventually gets old, though. It takes a lot of effort, and you can only keep it up for so long. Eventually the longing to be real becomes stronger than the fear of what might happen if people actually get to know the real you.
About 10 years ago I decided I didn’t want to pretend anymore. I began to determine that whatever I did and whatever my life looked like, I wasn’t going to intentionally keep up any longer the facades I’d been maintaining for so many years.
This determination was fueled by the work of God in my life. I met Christ for real around that time and learned for the first time that I didn’t have to pretend because He loves me and accepts me like I am. So I began to find the courage to start shedding the layers of pretense in which my life had been shrouded up to that time.
Don’t get me wrong–I know I probably haven’t rid myself of all forms of pretense yet. I’m sure there are ways I’m still pretending that I’m not aware of. Pretense is motivated by fear. It’s a desire to hide the truth, the desire to hide who we really are for fear of rejection. Ever since Adam and Eve hid from the presence of the Lord because they were ashamed of their nakedness, we have been pretenders and actors.
But thankfully, “…whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away…. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:16-18,NIV). In Christ we can come out of hiding. We don’t have to hide in shame anymore, for He has taken away our shame through his death on the cross. We don’t have to pretend anymore to be something we’re not. We are set free to be who we really are.
Nevertheless, in the church the pressure to pretend is ever-present, even in the best congregations, even in the churches that strive to be free in the Spirit and to not put undue burdens on people. Because the reality is that the truth of who we are and where we are in our Christian journey is not pretty at times, and can be quite messy. And we get tired of the mess after a while. We grow tired of seeing each others’ weaknesses and sins. Others sense this, and the tendency to hide returns. Plus, there are just some sins that are too embarrassing to admit. We just don’t want our dirty laundry seen by everyone.
There are some things you’re not supposed to talk about in the church, things you’re not supposed to say. I’m creating this blog as a place for me to talk about some of those things, a place to be honest and real and say some of the kinds of things we’re not really supposed to say, to talk about subjects we’re supposed to avoid at times.
Because I am trying to be honest about where I am in life, a lot of what I say here will be reflections of my own weaknesses and folly. That’s why I’ve called this blog “A Fool’s Wisdom.” My desire here will be to comment on various subjects from the perspective of my own experiences. But my life is pretty messy; it’s not all neat and tidy. So I don’t claim to have a lot of answers or to be someone whose life is an example for others, or someone that anyone else ought to listen to. I just like to write. I find it helpful to put my thoughts down on paper. My hope is that there might be something here that will resonate with others and perhaps be of some benefit.
There’s a lot of renovating that still needs to be done in my life and heart, to borrow an idea from author Dallas Willard. But my desire from here on out is to let God do it rather than trying to do it myself. Any changes and improvements that come into my life, any growth I display, will be to His glory, because He will have to do it if it’s going to be done. I just want to cooperate, and not hinder His work in my life.