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    ThuThursdaySepSeptember21st2017 Margin for Messiness

    Junior High was a crazy season of life. Shivers. What a time!

    It represented one of several “coming of age” points, stepping stones where I made conscious decisions about who I was, what I believed, and who I would become. We all have those moments. They are essential and valuable.

    At that time in my life, I was surrounded by a great family and a great church. They did a wonderful job guiding me in my development toward pursuing God. But, for some reason, I felt paralyzed to express the doubts I was having about God, faith, and the Christian life.

    It became a significant internal struggle. I never took the step toward talking with anyone about it. I didn’t think I could.

    That was my fault, even as a youth. There were plenty of people around me that I could have brought the struggle up with. But I didn’t feel any margin, any space, any freedom, to express my messiness. I felt like I had to look like I had it all together.

    Now, I am almost 39 years old. I am a husband, and parent two young boys. I am a disciple-maker and am paid to do so as a career. That means I come in contact with many men, women, and children on a weekly basis and connect with them at key points in their walk with God.

    Junior High Abraham was messy. He was full of doubts, sin, fear, and grief. Thirty-nine-year-old Abraham is messy. He is full of doubts, sin, fear, and grief. You as a reader are full of doubts, sin, fear, and grief. I get that. My question is: How do I (and how do you) make a margin for the messy, making space to express the ugly stuff we tend to hold inside?

    It doesn’t matter how old we are. We learn to put on masks and put up a false front that we are all okay and that there is nothing to be concerned about. This takes place throughout our days, in the workplace, on Sunday morning, in Care Group, and over a meal with a friend.

    I want to create space for messy moments. Are there questions we can ask that give others permission to reveal their mess? Is there anything we can do that tells others we are a safe place to talk about messes with? Can our children tell us they struggle to believe in God? Can our neighbor comfortably share his struggle with pornography?

    I have a lot of growing to do in this area but I want to create margin for the messy.

    Here are some ideas that I have:

    1. I need to own my messiness. I struggle with doubt, depression, grief, and sin. I am not above anyone. I am no less messy than anyone else. By acknowledging that daily, I am moving into my own messiness and I believe that will fashion me into a more approachable person by default.
    2. I need to be vulnerable with my messiness. This is a scary one to me. It will backfire at times. I will share with someone who will hurt me. But my identity is in Christ and I can trust him to care for me in those moments. The grenades that go off will be far fewer than the moments of ministry that take place as my life intersects with the lives of others. By trusting others with the deep places of my heart, others will see that they can trust me with their own.
    3. I need to invite others to share their mess with me. There is a caution here. I am never entitled for someone to share the depths of their soul with me. Even a simple question may come across as too aggressive for someone who doesn’t want to be vulnerable. However, gentle questions and looking for opportunities, founded on humility, can pave a road toward transparency. This is not to mention budgeting time to genuinely listen to what they share.

    It’s not rocket science. I have a lot of learning to do. But I invite you to create margin for messiness within your own circles of relationships.

    FriFridayMarMarch23rd2012 How to spot a liar
    byDon Whipple Tagged Honesty Speech 0 comments Add comment

    So according to news reports we can now add New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton to the growing list of people in sports, religion and politics who have recently been caught lying. We certainly find ourselves navigating our faith in a culture of lies and liars. But the culture of untruth that we live in is not the biggest problem we face. Our greatest dilemma is that we lie as well.

    Pamela Meyer in her 2010 book Liespotting sets out through various means of research to demonstrate that we are facing a pandemic of deception. She states that the average person is lied to between 10 and 200 times a day. She says of the average married couple that “you’re going to lie to your spouse in one out of every 10 interactions.” (Meyer's TED talk summarizing her findings can be viewed here.)  

    In our recent study of Abraham’s faith we spent some time in Genesis 18. In shocking absurdity (most lies gain that description after the fact) as recorded in verse 15, Sarah lies to the Lord. In a seemingly senseless hush, you can almost feel the painful awkwardness of the Lord’s loving response, ‘No, but you did laugh.’ 

    Pamela Meyer could have been writing about Sarah when she gives this explanation for why we sometimes lie: “Lying is an attempt to bridge a gap, to connect our wishes and our fantasies, about who we wish we were, how we could be, with what we’re really like.” 

    Sarah, like us in many cases, was afraid of what she was really like. She wished for a reality that was only achievable by various props and assertions. This understanding of both lying and us is incredibly helpful. How is it that we can be absolutely truthful with others and God even when the truth about us is quite disappointing? Sarah needed a bigger reason to be truthful than she had to lie. That reason is the love of God manifested to us in Christ.

    Living a truth-speaking life and developing a truth-in-love culture is our privilege because of the calling on our lives of God’s great love. God loves us. Christ delivers that love into our lives by dwelling in our hearts. The Holy Spirit spreads and sheds that love all over the landscape of our lives as we live by faith.

    Because of God’s great love,  Kossuth Street church in our meetings, relationships, marriages, friendships, families and ministries should be a place where we are able to look at each other and say the truth—“Yes, I did laugh,” or “Yes, I am afraid,” or “Yes, I do need grace.”

    Ephesians 4:15-16, 25 teaches that we bridge the gap between what we are and what we want to be in Christ by telling the love...when it is hard...even when it is self-incriminating. Truth builds the body when the grace of Christ is applied to truth telling people. I thank God for the truth tellers and truth culture he is building at KSBC.

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