“I just don’t want to be judged”, she said, “I’m not like you, I don’t have it all together yet.”
I smiled and thought… “by whose standards, because honey I am far from having it all together”
What is so discouraging is how so many people feel the exact same way about attending church. Anxiety creeps in when they envision some picture perfect museum of holy togetherness picking apart every piece of their flawed lifestyle. As they choose their seat in the very last row of the sanctuary hoping to be unnoticed.
And this idea is so paralyzing that it keeps the majority from even entertaining the idea of pulling into the church parking lot. And although believers know that the transformation actually occurs after you commit to Christ, how do you deliver this message if you can’t get people inside His house to hear it?
The beautiful thing is we are ALL a work in progress. The sad thing is I was once the girl who wanted to wait until I had it all together, because I walked through sanctuary doors, full of guilt, and a plethora of bad decisions. Young, single mom, no wedding ring (trust me they checked), jeans… but it’s not like I had the scarlet letter sewn to my forehead. I was met with a host of disapproving looks and judgmental stares by a congregation who stood in self-righteousness. Eyes were rolled and judgment passed based on a storm God had me in that they knew nothing about. It took eight years before I stepped foot inside a church again.
I’ve learned that we are ALL a work in progress. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from the struggles of life; it equips you with the most amazing tools and support to get through them. The church is a place to feel the presence of our King and hear His word. At the end of the day, whether you have been there for 15 seconds or 15 years, given nothing or given thousands, you have equal access to His presence and equal belonging in His house, and no one should make you feel differently.
Transparency and openness in our journey with Christ is so important. Throughout Scripture God allows us to see how many of His followers are open and transparent about their brokenness and faithfulness.
In Psalms David is beautiful with his transparent struggle and faith. We are shown that it is okay to be vulnerable as a Christian. It is okay to let others know that you sometimes fail.
You never know how God is going to use your struggle, but we can always count on Him to use it for our good. Romans 8:28 tells us…
“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to His purpose”.
I am very open in my walk, yes, sometimes I mess up, and life still impacts me too. The difference is how I respond. Who I turn to. Who I call on. I am a work in progress with emphasis on the word progress. The more open and honest I am about my struggles, my faith, and my journey… the more people are drawn to me with questions and interest about my faith and my journey with God. Maybe because they can relate to me as a person because I am so transparent in my walk with Him.
Remember that God used all types of people throughout Scripture to fulfill His purpose and expand His Kingdom. Jacob was a cheater, Peter had denied Christ, Noah was a drunk, Jonah ran from God, Sara was impatient, David had an affair, Rahab was a prostitute, Joseph was abused, and Lazarus was dead! God tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9…
“My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness”.
It is okay to be a transparent because we are all a work in progress. I believe whole heartedly that people will find themselves far more comfortable walking through the doors of the House of the Lord if they knew they were not alone in their struggles.
So, the next time someone new walks through His sanctuary doors, remember that you know not what storm God has them in, nor the strength it may have taken to get them there.