F R E E to be me

I wonder if I share too much.

I believe God has gifted me to be a communicator, to share what He has taught me to others interested in hearing. But, I’ve had circumstances mount in my life that have made me reconsider.

Maybe I should hold back.

Maybe I should keep everything private.

I shared my heart with a dear friend this week. She said, “I don’t want the watered down version, Mary. I want your words. Send me the real stuff.” I nearly cried when she said it because I knew she knew my heart. Another friend said, “Stay the way you are, Mary.” Although that sounds yearbook-ish, I greatly appreciated the accepting words.

But I struggle with who I am as an open person, particularly because the culture I live within (the church) is sometimes better at looking good on the outside than sharing pain on the inside. When I share my struggles, I shake up those who would rather keep theirs hidden. I ruffle the feathers of hiders.

Yes, I see now that moderation in sharing things is important. Every word I write and speak must be filtered through the hands of God. Sometimes I share too much. Other times I share too little. But I can’t help but think that authenticity and truth is helpful to the church. At least it is for me. I am thankful when a leader shares his struggles. I am refreshed when I have the opportunity to pray for my widowed friend. I am delighted when someone trusts me enough to reveal pain or angst because, in my opinion, authenticity builds community.

I go back to the Bible. Jesus said the truth will make us free. We, oddly, believe that hiding behind a mask will keep us healthy. We believe that hiding the truth will keep us happy. No, the truth is what frees. Even Paul faced criticism for his realism (and please don’t think I’m comparing myself to him…yikes!). Folks said he uttered strong words on papyrus, but in appearance he was weak. Many of us don’t think of weakness when we think of the great apostle, but he was. And he shared his weakness freely, in order that the power of Jesus would be seen more keenly. (See 2 Corinthians 4:7 and 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).

Consider these words: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raised the dead” (2 Corinthians 1: 8-9). Paul told it like it was. He despaired. He was burdened beyond what he could handle. And yet . . . And YET, God met him there, teaching him the amazing lesson that God shows up in our weakness.

So, here I am. I am weak. Perhaps I share it too frequently. Perhaps my frailty makes others uncomfortable. But I hope and pray that at the end of the day, I communicate not merely my struggles and worries, but that I point to the One who gives me strength.

Jesus has freed me to be myself, warts and all. He has freed me to speak His strength. Although I struggle with the how-when-why to communicate, I would rather fall on the side of authenticity.

That’s just me.

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