OK, so I just finished reading a book called "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them" (John Ortberg). The book was talking abou the importance of community. There was a lot of good stuff in there, but I'm not talking so much about the book tonight as a couple of thoughts that came to mind that are related to the book and to some of the questions I have gotten about how to actually go about putting into practice what I talked about in my last post.
Honestly, I think that the only way we can begin to remove that masks that we so often wear is to begin with small groups of people - whether this is a group of close friends, a Bible study group, an accountability group, or whatever. We need to have those groups of people in our lives who we can go to and be honest with . . . and who will be honest with us as well. Without these kind of people in our lives, what hope do we really have of moving beyond the "image management" that we have gotten caught up in? I honestly don't believe we have much . . . not that I want to be depressing, but I think it's true.
I know for myself, I've grown up in the church and I was raised that what other people think is important. So, we could fight all the way to the church, but the moment we turned into the parking lot . . . smiles on everyone's faces and the answer to how things were going was "great" . . . even if that wasn't the truth. Not exactly honest . . . but I've talked to others who had the same experience growing up.
But, I've also experienced the opposite . . . I had the privilege of living with some incredible girls for the two years that I was at Bible college. And I saw how . . . at least most of the time . . . to move beyond this "image management" metality. First of all, when you have 40 girls, two to a room, with one big bathroom at the end of the hall you see more and hear more about people just due to the living situation. But, I also never knew one of them to ask how you were doing and allow the answer to just be "fine" or "good" or "ok". The standard answers were not enough . . . and usually the questions asked were more specific than just asking "how's it going?" as you passed someone.
That was a learning experience for me . . . but it was good!
I think we need to start having those people in our lives who will ask us how we are and want a real answer. I think we need to start having people in our lives who we give permission to for them to ask us the hard questions. I think we need to start having people in our lives who are not afraid to say something when we're headed for trouble.
And if this is going to happen, we have to be these kind of people for others in our lives as well. We need to be willing to speak up when we're concerned about a friend or ask the tough questions. This isn't a one way thing . . . it has to go both ways.
Right now, we each need to find people who we can be completely honest with in our lives.
Who is this in your life?
If there isn't anyone who you could trust in this way, what is the next thing you can do to move towards having these kind of people in your life?
I asked myself these questions recently. I count myself lucky to be able to say that I do have people who ask me the tough questions or speak up when I'm headed for trouble in my life now. But, I haven't always . . . because it takes a risk to do this . . . to trust some people enough to be this open and honest with them. But the rewards of doing so are huge . . . and far outwiegh the benefits.
So, I challenge you . . . find these people in your life and develop these kinds of relationships. They won't happen overnight . . . so get started! Or if you have these people in your life already . . . continue to develop those relationships.