Let’s Be Real

Recently I’ve been receiving messages from people thanking me for my vulnerability and honesty which most say, “I know it mustn’t be easy sharing so publicly”. To be honest, I haven’t found it hard at all, and neither should you. I’ve always been the guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, sometimes too much so. The guy who was willing to say he didn’t understand even if it made him look stupid. The guy who was happy to own up to his weaknesses, of which there are many. The guy who refused to write that he thought tongues WAS INITIAL evidence of Baptism of the Holy Spirit on his pastoral credentials application just to receive a title. The adult Aaron (post 24y/o after my frontal lobe had set in), has never known different. Just be me. Just be real. Apart from one huge side of me that I forced to the back and never did anything about, everything else was, ‘what you see is what you get’.

What surprises me, and probably shouldn’t, is that this isn’t default setting for most, especially within the church. Sadly there is a felt need to hide away or put up a front in order to impress or seem like we have life together in order to stay within the “flock”. If the church found out that you still watched porn, or they found out you spoke to your spouse with resentment behind closed doors, or that you weren’t tithing because you can’t afford the bills this month, or that you were sleeping with your boyfriend while still wearing that purity ring, or that you drank a little bit too much last Saturday night – the fear would be that you would be immediately stepped down as youth leader or keyboard player or the backup singer who doesn’t even have their mic switched on (you’re just there to fill out the stage). Or maybe you fear that people would look at you differently, or that you would be hung out with less. Up until recently I would have said: “that’s not true, the church is bigger than that, we love people.” Now I’d probably say, “some people within the church are bigger than that, and you’re fears are very valid”. Maybe I and a few others were an anomaly.

Shame is a huge problem within the church. One that is causing people to hide behind pretty facades and not be real with each other within the church. I saw it all the time. People who would have coffee with me and tell me that everything in their life was so much better than it really was, just because they wanted a position or title or even just my approval. All I really wanted was their honesty, I didn’t care how messed up things were. I mean I knew anyway, their mum, dad, sister, brother, boyfriend, girlfriend, would tell me out of concern before if even met them.

We are scared to be vulnerable. We are scared to confess the reality of our broken lives.

The problem with confession in the Protestant church is, we’ve lost it. We felt the Catholic church took it too far one way, with penance and the little confessional booth, so we swang the pendulum in the complete other direction and have lost the art of true brotherly and sisterly Christian confession and vulnerability. Instead, we’ve built shiny, plastic churches filled with plastic people. We come in smiling after having just fought with our spouse and children in the car, we are met by strategically placed happy people, who lead us to the cafe where good churches will give you real coffee for free, then we rush to the same seat we sit in every week, clap our hands, sing our songs about our “Zeal” for God when we forget about Him when we drive off the property. We listen and laugh at the preacher but give up halfway through and scroll social media, go back to the foyer have some surface-level conversations, then get back in the car where we peel off the plastic again, undo the button of our pants, breathe out and become the real us.

I know this is a generalisation, and some may get offended. You’re either offended for one of two reasons, I’ve just called you and your church out, or secondly, you didn’t realise this was a thing and you can’t believe this is happening. You’re saying, “that doesn’t happen in my church”. But no one’s going to tell you if it is anyway, they’re too scared to. But honestly, there are some who are genuine and vulnerable, and there are also some who won’t turn their back on you when you are.

But we need to get better at this. If we are ever going to rid the church and our world of this shame problem, we’ve got to do better. Better at confessing and better and hearing the confessions of others and rather than judging saying “me too!” Because we are all fallen short of God’s glory in some way or another.

Anyway, here’s my invitation to join me in vulnerability. It’s a truly Christian way of life that should never have been lost. It’s the most liberating thing you will experience. The Bible says “confess your sins to one another and you will be saved.” I’ve never been a fan of the way youth pastors have interpreted that verse. Because it’s not just saying to air all your dirty laundry to everyone. There are some things you need to be wise who you offload and share things with. Some things just shouldn’t be shared to protect others. But other things don’t matter so much, and vulnerability publicly is so freeing.

So I would love to invite you to join me in the comments in getting something off your chest and see the freedom that comes. Maybe even write how you are working on changing this if you feel it is a problem that needs changing. See how you will be saved. Maybe even share something stupid that you’ve always been too embarrassed to share as a fun experiment to find how liberating this actually is.

Oh and if you get asked to step off a church team, or people push you away, treat you differently or stop talking to you, you don’t need them in your life anyway. In fact, come join me in starting a community where that won’t happen. Where the forgiveness, love, mercy and grace of Jesus reign supreme and where we see the gold in each other and push people toward Christ rather than forcing them away from pursuing Him and being all that they were created to be.

I’ll kick us off:

– in the past three months, I’ve struggled more with unforgiveness than ever before. I kind of like the feeling and there are some people I don’t want to forgive.
– I carry resentment toward people I gave so much time, energy, love, help to (for a wage that struggled to support my family, so it was definitely for love and not money) who have just gone silent.
– in the past three months, there have been nights where I’ve been very lonely and very sad and drinking my misery away was sadly the option I chose.
– this week I have enjoyed laughing at the misfortune of someone who caused me pain recently. I immediately regretted it, and am saddened I went there.
– I have allowed the pain to control my decisions far too much recently but am working on changing my mindset with my psychologist.

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