50 Shades of Honesty


thLA1T6KWERecently I posted a personal opinion on Facebook about the movie “50 Shades of Grey”. I got the usual comments of support from my church friends but it was the unspoken comments that spoke the loudest. It made me think about why I felt the need to post my reasons that other people should not see this movie.

I realized very quickly that my reasons had everything to do with me and nothing to do with other people. I began to think about myself and the labels (some chosen and others placed on me by others) that impact how people see me. One of the biggest labels I place on myself is “Christian.” And I know that with that label comes the understanding that people are watching. If you are going to call yourself a Christian, your actions better live up to the label.

Then there are the other labels – wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. These are labels that matter a lot to me and that many people can relate to. Then there are the labels I wouldn’t necessarily place on myself but when I asked others they responded with these – leader, teacher, mentor, encourager. Whether we realize it or not we all carry labels that mark who we are.

mask2But what about the labels you don’t necessarily see on the surface. The ones that I keep hidden from most people. Some, that until now, have been just between me and God – weak, bent toward negativity, insecure, afraid of disappointing others, desire to please others no matter the costs, easily influenced, prone to give in and give up. These are the labels that influenced my thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey.”

I know myself and my weaknesses and aside from the grace of God, I am one mistake away from being all those negative labels I place on myself.  When Jesus became my Lord and Savior, I was made new. The old me was gone and I became a new creation in Christ. But I’m not naïve enough to think that many of my old tendencies aren’t lurking just below the surface.  That the enemy would love to ensnare the new me by dredging up the old me.

I know that if I saw that movie then there would be things that I would hear and see that would influence my thoughts. I know that if I allowed the darkness represented in that movie into my mind, it would impact my soul. I know the kind of things that I need to avoid in order to guard myself from the negative tendencies in my personality. I know that the reason that  I don’t want to see the movie is not because I think I’m better than other people. It’s because I know I’m worse so I can’t see it.

If I want to be the best of the positive labels, I have to avoid the things that I know will  corrupt those areas of my life. I’m not trying to claim that if you are Christian you should not see this movie. I’m claiming that I am a Christian and I can’t see this movie. I know myself too well to think that I would not be impacted by a movie like that. I believe people see Christians and label us – judgmental, holier than thou, boring, out of touch, unrealistic, bible thumping, pushy, intolerant. And I certainly see plenty of that in Christians and  non-Christians alike. I see it in myself at times and it’s ugly. So when we comment publically as Christians about something like “50 Shades of Grey”, we are thought to be finger-pointing. Which in this case, couldn’t be further from the truth.

thU8P2W1RSThe honest truth is that I am not “that Christian” who’s pointing fingers. I am simply a mix of all of the labels above and someone who is painfully aware of how desperate I am for Jesus. I see myself in the people I encounter and I want nothing more than for them to be brought out of the darkness of their situations and their sins and into the Glorious Light as I have been. I want them to know that God loves us even when we’re at our darkest. I want them to know that the truth is, that kind of love changes you forever. I want them to know that there is a very real enemy of their soul that wants to keep them separated from that love. Does that make me think that I’m better than others? No. It’s just means I know how unworthy I am of the labels God has placed on me forgiven, redeemed, Child of God, set free, accepted, worthy, chosen, more than a conqueror, overcomer, joy-filled, made righteous and holy, full of faith, healed, blessed, blameless, LOVED.

 

 

Filtered


thR6RG5FG5Have you noticed how everything, and I mean everything, is filtered these days? Rarely do we take a picture any more without adding a filter to make it look better. And if I ever saw a celebrity in person I’d probably not recognize them because they’re all photo-shopped in the pictures I see of them.

So it makes me wonder, why we feel the need to filter our lives? Why do we want to try to improve on what God created us to be? Why do we need to change the appearance of our original selves? Are we really that unhappy with who we are? Don’t get wrong. I’m certainly not judging or saying I never use filters. You will not see a picture of me that doesn’t have a black & white filter! So, I am guilty of doing it too.

But back to my thought. People struggle with letting their real selves be seen and heard. People even filter what they say instead of just saying what they mean. Why is that?! I have some thoughts on why we feel the need to filter.

One reason is that we are fearful. We don’t want to say what we’re really feeling or show our real selves because we fear we will be rejected. I believe this is the greatest fear people face today. We are so afraid to show who we really are because we think people won’t accept the real us. That if they knew the truth about who we really are (our thoughts, feelings, struggles), then they would judge us and want nothing to do with us. So we use a filter.

thPNRJ9V7OSam Smith even said it when he accepted his Grammy Award the other night – he said “Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard,” Smith said. “I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.” Wow, why did he feel such pressure to be someone he wasn’t? Was it fear of rejection? Insecurities? And look at the outcomes when he simply decided to be who he was. No filters.

Another reason is control. We get a false sense of being in control when we can hide our true self. We long to be our own boss of our lives. To surrender seems weak. But the truth is there is power in surrendering to God and allowing Him to be in control. There is safety and security in His arms. We let ourselves believe that we’re in control of situations when we keep our real selves hidden. We convince ourselves that people can’t hurt us or control us as long as we remain in control. We keep a wall up and never let them into the inner sanctuary of our hearts where our real feelings and thoughts live. But it’s all a façade. It may appear on the outside that we’re in control but inside it leaves us feeling completely out of control. It’s just another filter that hides what is real.

thVC85JMWZThe final reason we filter our lives is because we think that if we can be someone else, we will be happy. We think that if we can be the person we are pretending to be then our lives will be happy. We believe that if we hide our real self long enough that eventually all the hurts, wounds, insecurities and mistakes will just go away. We think that who we really are will just disappear and people will believe we’re really the person we’re pretending to be. We’re deceived into thinking that if we can just make our real self disappear then all our problems will disappear too.

God sent Jesus to die on the cross and to set us free from everything that makes us not want to be the real us. He never intended for us to feel the need to hide from who He created us to be. We are not a mistake that needs to be filtered because God doesn’t make mistakes. He loves us and accepts us. Without filters. He may be the only person you can trust will your real self but you CAN trust Him. He will never reject you if you let down your guard and trust Him to see the real you. He longs for you to share your true feelings and thoughts with Him. There is nothing about you that He doesn’t already know. So why not just open up and be free to share the real you. No filter. There is peace and joy that comes with being who you were created to be. We need to stop hiding behind a filter. It just may be distorting what God meant for the world to see.