I wear a necklace on occasion that was given to me by my late step-grandmother, a precious woman I affectionately called “Nana.”
The necklace is a simple gold chain with a beautiful stone dangling from the center. Unless I told you the stone wasn’t a diamond, you probably would never guess. It appears almost as real as any diamonds I’ve seen.
I’ve yet to encounter a person uncouth enough to ask if my stone is real, but if they did, I would willingly admit it is not. Not because I think I have to, but because that sort of thing isn’t a big deal to me.
At the same time, I don’t go around screaming that the stone isn’t real.
Because truthfully, I don’t think it’s anyone’s business.
A few people who have read my recent blog posts have offered up sweet comments about my willingness to share my struggles openly.
Most of them know me well enough to know I don’t share every aspect of my childhood, marriage and parenting issues on a public blog. I’m ten kinds of crazy, but not eleven.
I share what I want, how much I want, and in the manner I want.
Because I don’t owe anyone but Jesus my whole story.
Neither do you.
While I feel privacy is simple enough to understand, I’ve noticed we hold people who publicly share parts of their stories—including and especially Christians—to a higher standard.
But who said talking about Jesus automatically qualified one for Sainthood? Whose fault is it that perfection is expected among those who profess to follow Christ?
Was the goal of Christ dying our perfection? Or did he die to cancel our sin debt, allowing us to rest from the fear and burden of perfection?
I’ll tell you about an incident that happened to me once that permanently changed the way I viewed professing Christianity in public.
I was at an engagement party. I had recently been baptized and immediately found myself in the middle of a spiritual attack.
My escape of choice has always been wine.
I’ve spoken a little about it on my blog, but probably not to the extent that you would know how much of a struggle authenticity in social settings can be for me, and how I’ve used alcohol to cope.
There are two things I’ve learned about myself over the last few years:
- I’m a reactionary soul—if you do something that bothers me (especially if that you is Clayford), there’s a good chance I’m going to react like a fool; and…
- If I’m not comfortable around you, I won’t act much better than if you do something that bothers me. (This is me admitting my “stone” isn’t real.)
Anybody else struggle with this?
The engagement party was for a girlfriend of my husband’s. Truth be told, Clayford’s high school friend-group (I lovingly refer to them as the Cougar Cult) is a crew I’ve struggled to be comfortable around from day one.
So naturally I drank more at this party than necessary. And I will never forget standing at the bar and being judged in a harsh way by the husband of one of Clayford’s friends, a young man who was very involved in the church we still attend.
What he said to me hurt me so badly that I have never again judged a Christian in my life.
I kid you not, if I was to hear a follower of Christ left his wife, committed murder, robbed a bank, was found drunk in a ditch—anything—I wouldn’t judge them. I wouldn’t believe they loved what Jesus had done for them any less.
We do that, my Christian friends, and it is completely wrong.
We harshly judge friends and neighbors, pastors, leaders, and Bible study teachers, including a few well-known leaders who have recently announced their divorces via Facebook.
I have no plans to delve into their private lives, judge them, or lament them.
Marriage can be hard, especially in the current climate we are living in, divorce too, and sometimes there are no simple answers to fix the messes we accrue.
I read a great post written by a follower of one of these individuals. The article said we should all understand that no Christian is immune to sin, even to having affairs or indiscretions.
Not only is this true; it’s frightening.
You think you can control your actions, but really, you don’t know what you’d do in any given situation.
And you can’t control what your spouse does at all.
I vulnerably professed to Clayford last night that my greatest fear in marriage has always been that I would sacrifice my twenties, thirties and forties in a somewhat disappointed state of mind (as I’ve written about here), only to be left behind in my fifties for a younger woman, someone who could make him happier or give him more children, which I can’t even do now.
I don’t think it’s an irrational fear. As the longevity of marriages crumble all around us—and many times for good reasons, such as spouses not holding up their ends of the bargain, as I discussed here—we watch this same scenario occur more and more.
(I think I’ll write an entire blog post for all my college-age and twenty-something gals entitled, ‘Find SINGLE Men Your Own Age!’—and young ladies, before you start arguing with me that men your age don’t want to settle down, they don’t want to settle down because they don’t have to. That’s on us, not them. 😉 )
Clayford can swear to me today that he would never leave me high and dry. But 2017 Clayford has no idea where 2028 Clayford will be.
And here’s what I’ve had to accept: If my husband chooses to step outside of our marriage, it won’t be because of me. It won’t be because of any sin I’ve committed or failure we’ve walked through.
It won’t be because I don’t go to the gym every day, make $100,000, or dress like I’m Forever Shopping at Forever-21. (Thanks, Heather, for that awesome post.)
It will be because HE had a character flaw and acted upon it. Simple as that.
The same goes for us when we hold each other to standards not meant to be upheld and judge one another for thorns Christ has yet to remove.
And if you are voraciously hoping to discover another person’s thorns, if you are seeking to hear juicy details of their private lives, ask yourself just why you so desperately want to know.
- Is it to feel better about your own situation?
- To be proven right?
- To make the person look bad?
- To soothe your own jealousy, hatred or ugly heart?
Seriously, ask God to reveal those answers. You might be surprised at what you find.
I have found that when I want to know more about a person’s life than they’re willing to share, it’s usually to make them look bad so that I feel better. Yuck.
The problem is not that women and men share only parts of their stories.
The problem is not that the couple you know to fight miserably all the time are now posting lovey-dovey pics on social media.
The problem is not that your best friend is carrying a Louis Vuitton while she has a boat-load of debt.
The problem is not that the mom you know down the street is crazy as hell but pretends to be the epitome of perfection.
The problem is not that ALL Christians are walking in broken bodies, making imperfect choices, yet a few of us still boldly talk about Jesus in the midst.
The problem is that we choose to judge one another for journeys we haven’t walked.
The problem is that, in our own flawed thinking, we’ve placed human beings on thrones where only Christ was meant to sit.
And that is one character flaw only you and I can change about ourselves.