What's true and what's truth...
This was an email I wrote to someone from my life group last night that was inquiring about "staying in a struggle" and wrestling with God in order to get "a name change". So many Christians "seize the day" (carpe diem) and try to look at the bright side of life dismissing nagging feelings and abiding discontent inside of their, less than amused, heart. But I think it's just as important for Christians to get serious about "seizing the night" (carpe noctem) in their life and staying in that darkness until God sheds his light on it. You can't just keep making like it's not there. And you can't just keep saying, "I just want to be thankful for what I do have" disregarding the places inside that are screaming for a voice, an expression, a place at the table to be present and accounted for. When we don't acknowledge the deep reality of our dark side, we do ourself no favors and delay God's process of refining us "with fire". It hurts and heals. It's the great oxymoronic paradoxical contradictory gospel of God at work in the nitty, gritty and sh***y of our everyday life. God is big enough to handle our dark side...are we?
So here's the email I wrote this morning...
Wow...you're questions are so right on the money.
I had something happen last night at life groups that doesn't happen often for me. It was like being in a movie and forgetting you are actually in a movie because you're so enraptured with the story. I literally caught myself forgetting where I was because I was wrestling with what I call the "raw footage" and "raw sewage" of life. I was there. I wasn't trying to be there. I wasn't trying to be real. I wasn't trying to listen or trying to lead or trying to ask good questions. I just was. I felt like I could just be...instead of trying to "be something".
This is critical to spiritual growth, in my opinion, and relates perfectly to what you shared about staying in something until you get a name change. Maybe it's my background or maybe it's just broken human nature to prematurely escape painful stuff, I don't know, but I'm learning it doesn't go away. It just gets re-buried and comes up later with three heads instead of two. This stuff doesn't just go away just because we're trying to not think about it. It sticks around like a virus needing a remedy that hasn't yet been discovered. It's the virus of "unprocessed story".
When you don't process your story, you don't really grow and you don't really change, you just modify behavior and work harder on cosmetic cover-ups to make like things are better than they are. It's called "make believe" in a child's world. And that's what I fear many adults are still playing with their stories...Pretend.
Even last night...with the raw footage of what was being shared and even the swear words that were being drudged up in the process, part of me felt like teaching people about how to guard their tongues and sharing in a more refined manner....but this is something that I'm learning about life. Raw footage is so necessary if we are to even have raw community. You can't just clean up and change in order to fit a formal environment with unspoken rules and boundaries, you have to show up and be who you are and let growth start from there.
There will be a time to talk about language and our tongues and honoring God with our words, but last night was not the time. A couple of them are toddlers in their faith and it's more important for them to feel comfort sharing their hearts than it is for them to governed or legislated or policed. So much of my background was spent trying to share properly, and what often was lost was what I "actually" felt and "actually" wanted and "actually" did. I was too busy trying to frame it biblically and cast it maturely and couch it theologically. I feel like I lost what was real and what was put on over the years. And what ultimately gets lost is my heart. I lose who I am and what I feel and what I really want. I could go on explaining this, but hopefully I've shared enough that you get my point.
I love the Bible, I love theology, I love doctrine and I love truth...but these things are meant to bring freedom, not restrict reality. If something is really happening, I don't want to hear people talk about what they "should" be the whole time, I want to here what they are being. If it's a bunch of "would'a, could'a, should'a" the whole time...when are we going to talk about what is really real...I mean really happening now, what you're really feeling today...this is something I've been starving for as a Christian. A place to stay in reality without aborting from truth. Truth is patient...it can wait to be drawn upon in time. It doesn't need to barge into a moment...it doesn't need to cut into a conversation...it's not the sword of truth in the armor of God...it's the belt of truth. It isn't a weapon...it holds things together.
I think that's what truth does in community...it isn't supposed to be used as a weapon in conversation to keep people in line. It's supposed to ungird and support and hold words and feelings and thoughts together. And again, it's patient...it lets honesty talk even if it's not completely true. Alot of times we're honest, but honestly wrong. But here's an important distinction...just because something isn't truth doesn't mean it isn't true. What a person shares is true to them and as such must be respected. What I love about truth is that is waits for someone to share what's true to them, and then delicately and precisely waits for a natural time to make what's "true" accountable to "truth".
Last night, we were dealing with a mix of both. What's true (or real) for people and what's "truth" (or really real) according to God. I like it when both are occurring. When either is removed, something quite sad emerges. I'm getting more comfortable staying in what's true a little longer in order to extract the poison out of the wound. Rushing to bandage a wound before letting the blood spill out and clean it from the inside out only leads to infection later. If there isn't an inside-out cleansing (what's true) mixed with an outside-in cleansing (what's truth), I'm convinced that nothing truly transforming has a chance of taking place. Again, these are just my knee-jerk thoughts.
Thanks for asking good questions...thanks for letting me give you broken answers that come from the real-time footage of my own story. I hope it assists you in discovering for yourself what the world (life as we're experiencing it and see it) is saying and what the Word (life as God experiences it and sees it) is saying about TRUTH. I'm learning God is speaking to us through both.