Are you like me? When you take a walk around your neighborhood, do you look at the houses...ooh I like that one? Or do you sometimes look at the yard and if it is well manicured you surmise that those people must really have their act together?? I do. I don't mean to, but I do. I come to conclusions based upon what the outside of their house looks like.
But, behind every manicured lawn; behind every door there is a story. Perhaps behind the door with the nice wreath is a son who has been in rehab for the third time. Behind that red door is a marriage that is barely hanging on. The green door is home to a family with an autistic child. What stories lie behind the other doors?? An alcoholic? A mother out of work? Pornography addiction? Mental illness? Abuse? The list could go on and on.
So why do we hide behind our pristine lawns? Why do we wear masks? Why do we say "fine" when someone asks us how we are? I think if we were honest with ourselves it would be because we are afraid that if someone knew us...I mean really KNEW us, just as we are, we wouldn't be accepted. Secular society doesn't help either. It promotes image management. Have you ever received one of those nauseating Christmas letters in which everyone's life sounds like a fairytale? It begs the question....What if we were REAL??
What if we followed Jesus' example and accepted people just as they are? The second commandment (which means it's really important) is to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." Do I make it comfortable for others to be really REAL around me? Do I make myself REAL to them? Am I willing to drop the mask and risk being transparent? I think that's what God would have us do.
He speaks very clearly to how we can love others as we love ourselves...
"A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34)
"A friend loveth at ALL (emphasis mine) times." (Proverbs 17:17)
"Carry each others burdens..." (Galatians 6:2)
In order to carry each others burdens, we need to be real first. My friend Cathy and I share a special bond because we dared to be real. We both shared that we deal with anxiety and depression. Neither of us looked with judgment upon the other and it has helped both of us tremendously get through the trials, and celebrate the joys of life.
I'll end this post with the lyrics of a song by Christian recording artist Mandisa. The title of the song is "What If We Were Real":
We keep trying to make it look so nice.
And we keep hiding what's going on inside,
But what if I share my brokenness?
What if you share how you feel?
And what if we weren't afraid of this crazy mess,
What if were real?
What's behind your door? What if you dared to share your brokenness? What if we were real?...
What brings us true JOY?? Putting J-Jesus first; O- Others second and Y-Yourself last. Simple equation but it works.