Every couple days I receive an email with a new post from a certain online magazine.
I signed up for it after I read some of the posts there and found a refreshing honesty and willingness to discuss the hard things in life.
Stories of harm, stories of shame, stories of self-destruction and abuse.
There were no easy answers offered, and it took great pains to avoid being preachy. Although it was informed by Christianity there was a lot of focus on negative self-image, manipulation, lonliness, pain and mistakes.
Once in a while there was a whisper of something more, an outstretching of a hand, a note delivered but no answer yet given.
And their posts are starting to make me a little crazy.
I know there are no easy answers.
I know that for almost all of us, growth and fulfillment come as a process over time.
That doesn’t mean I should stay where I started. We who try to follow Jesus have seasons of dormancy as well as seasons of insights and changes, but our faith will develop. We are to “be transformed by the renewing of our mind” because we are new creations in Christ. Some things change in an instant, others take a while to even notice, much less actually address.
Chronic depression or an inability to get past our history may indicate something in us that needs more attention, something that needs more intensive probing and maybe the insight of a trained professional to trace and address. Sometimes we need to seek out the help of someone other than Jesus to deal with hard things. There are things that others can tell us about ourselves that we can’t see from inside ourselves.
There’s nothing wrong with having rocky journey to faith. There’s also nothing wrong with a simple faith story, a story of knowing what Jesus offers and taking Him up on it, a legacy of coming from families who believe in Him and who make that appealing by their healthy example.
We belittle our own journey when we disparage it, when we wish to exchange it for something flashier or more dramatic.
I know there are plenty of people who have a story riddled with hardship who would have preferred to bypass the sadness, hurt or difficulty while it was happening (wouldn’t we all?) even though they might acknowledge that their journey made them who they are.
There is power in sharing story. Yes. Every person comes with a story and telling it honestly is part of claiming that we are made through mistakes and successes. Making public a story of abuse or neglect diffuses the power of secrecy that can keep us trapped in a cycle of shame. These are potentially exciting stories of redemption and transformation. But if what is shared is only the first portion, only a representation of the dark-side, are not the rest of us complicit in enabling a voyeuristic system that longs for the juicy tell-all TV magazine headline, the more scandalous the better?
Happily, last week the site included a story that focused on someone’s feelings about having a “plain” story. If you want to take a look, here’s the link: http://shar.es/ivtKK I think overall this magazine does a good job of representing the complexity of real-life faith. They often share glimmers of hope in the midst of difficulty and examples of real people wrestling with fragile situations, coming at it with a faith-informed approach that engages the gray parts of life.
I just happen to like some more frequent sunshine.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, maybe even hear some of your story. All versions (keep ’em clean, of course) are welcome here.