Being "Real" is popular in some circles. It is cool to admit that you have struggles. The saying is "JUST BE REAL." All you have to do is confess your most embarrassing struggle. What is it? What is that thing you are terrified for others to find out about you? They say, the battle is about vulnerability, not the weakness. Or is it?
The church scene: (where getting real almost never happens)
I am sitting in a small group of conservative men in the basement of a church. The leader asks us to identify one area of our lives that we could use some support with. Most of the men start talking about the subject of accountability like it is the newest truck model.
"That accountability stuff is real good."
"Everybody needs a little support every now and then...makes your life run better."
"The best thing about accountability is that you have people to depend on."
We purposefully avoid talking about our personal lives. We hide our dark secrets like a bad hand of cards at the poker table. Every man sitting in that circle is desperate to connect and feel valued. But showing weakness is like asking men to take a physical examination. Turn your head and cough! Ugh, no thanks!!!
My mind is racing with anxious thoughts, while trying to hide my cards...
"I'd rather walk across hot coals than share my weakness in front of these guys."
"Confessing that I have a chink in my armor feels like I am dying."
"Admitting that I failed feels like failure. Don't ask me to be vulnerable."
"I will not dishonor the code. Silence keeps me safe."
One person has the courage to GET REAL:
All of sudden one guy bursts out his issue like he was announcing the score to the college football game on Saturday. "I masturbate!" he blurted out. All the other guys are turning red, staring at the floor, fidgeting or glancing at the door for their escape, as the guy continues. "I masturbate almost every night, and I have been doing it for years. I know it is wrong, but I can't quit." You could hear a pin drop. Some of the other guys in the circle are staring at him, hard-swallowing, with a pleading look on their face that said, "Oh, my God! Please, don't ask me to go next!"
The domino effect of GETTING REAL:
I can't believe someone would drop a bomb like that! He shared his darkest secret...his sexual sin. That was GETTING REAL right? The other guys in the group are applauding his efforts to be open like he just hit a grand slam in the ninth inning to win the world series. Mr. Get Real is puffing up like he is the cool guy in the group. The awkwardness with broken with applause and the vibe became that it was cool to confess your deep, dark secrets. Then like popcorn in hot oil, everyone else in the group starts popping off with their life-long struggle with closet sin.
GETTING REAL is cool, but it is not the end-all:
Here's the big problem with ONLY getting real. The confession in a secret circle of peers offers relief from guilt, maybe temporary change. But not true liberation or lasting transformation. If openly admitting our faults brings on no REAL CHANGE, then we are missing the point. Shocking a crowd of people with our secret struggles to appease our conscience does not honor the price paid for redemption, unless you are open to moving beyond confession. The goal is not to find initiation (many times mistaken for grace) among the cool brotherhood, but to experience deep and lasting freedom that comes from being changed by the truth.
My wife GOT FOR REAL:
She spent twenty-five years hiding a closet issue with rage. The day she made her story public she was not trying to wow the crowd. She was revealing how the love of Christ empowered her to come out of hiding and to walk out her freedom. Her GETTING REAL moment was part of a process that included a willingness to take responsibility for her struggle, and to experience the loving transformation of Christ. She was "coming out of hiding" not to justify her rage problem, but to reveal how the goodness of God was at work in her heart.
Redemption should follow GETTING REAL:
The redemptive process starts with receiving God's forgiveness in our shame-filled struggle. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to allow God to love us in the place where we feel most unworthy of His love. The next step is to GET REAL, which includes not just confessing our struggle, but also taking full responsibility for it. Taking ownership of our struggle looks like genuine, heart-felt repentance. Change comes from a willingness to be repent, which frees us to "grow up". Transformation happens when we allow love to flow through that struggle that and wash out all the shame. Shame gets exchanged with freedom...the kind that Jesus died for us to experience. The freedom that empowers us to fulfill our created potential.
Confess (Get Real) + Repent (Embrace Change) + Receive Forgiveness (Release Shame) = Transformation (Freedom to Fulfill Our Purpose)