Christian fellowship that includes real vulnerability and honesty is written about in many books and spoken about in many 'a sermon. But, in every-day, real life do we have this with our brothers and sisters?
How are you today? ...we ask each other this how many times a day, how many times in a week? Sunday morning is filled with the sound of this question. What is it we are really asking, exactly?
The appropriate response to this daily question, of course, is ... "Fine, thanks!" or "Doing well. How are you?" If you give any other answer to that infamous question, you might bring a mild shock or make someone very uncomfortable.
In Kazakh, the proper response to the "How are you?" was... "How are you? How's your health?" (no answer needed, just another question).
In Turkish, the proper response was, "Thank you." They ask you, "How are you?" and the right response is, "Thank you." Any other answer and immediate confusion would wash over the asker's face.
I have still yet to figure out the appropriate response to the Welsh, "Alright?" But, I am pretty sure the 'right' answer wouldn't be an honest answer about the state of my heart.
We do this all the time. ...it is just human, I guess. To pretend. To cover. To be appropriate.
And, I get "appropriate-time-and-place" theories and philosophy. I am attempting to teach my sweet, emotional daughter this very important concept. The when, where, with whom and how are important, of course. There are "the right" time and places, I know.
But, do we go too far? Shouldn't church, and other sisters and brothers, be included somewhere in this "time and place" continuum.
When I attempt to venture out and share more... well, maybe, much more... I often get some push-back and confusion. I get labeled as "odd" or "intense". And, then, I feel squashed in my ability or desire to keep sharing. Do you ever feel this way?
I was light-heatedly teased the other day for sharing about "a common cold" in my prayer newsletter. The comment was not mean; but, it did reveal.
Pray about everything, Paul says...
Okay. I am okay with that. That is good and right... but just don't share about everything?
I remember sharing upfront in a woman's retreat about my struggle with gluttony... The response... awkward!!!..... (we don't use THAT word in church!) Then, after, to push through the awkwardness was light-hearted mocking from a friend during our lunch together. Really? Is that your response to my hard, heart-sharing?
Why do we do this to each other?
Vulnerability and honesty sound great in a sermon or written about in a book; but, when you attempt it in every day conversations... it just makes most people feel uncomfortable. Awkward!
So, why did I answer over-and-over last week at church, "Great!" and "Doing well, thank you" to that age-old question. I was just being appropriate.
But, was I being honest?
My sister asked me last week, How are you? ... and my answer? To this sweet-one, who loves me and wants to know me, ... I answered, "I am tired. I am in pain. And, I am afraid."
I am afraid. That is how I was last week. Not, "great!" Not "doing well". I wasn't fine, thank you. I was agitated and irritable and afraid.
Last week I was able to share this with my sister. It was beautiful and powerful that she heard me, took it in, and prayed. ...and she prayed.
When she asked me yesterday, "how are you? How is the fear-thing?", I could honestly answer, "I am not afraid anymore!" And we rejoiced together.
He answered. My prayers. ...and hers.
And, it opened up for both of us an opportunity to rejoice in His deliverance. We joined together last week and again yesterday... simply because I was willing to share and she was willing to handle my honesty.
Vulnerably and honesty are hard; but they are good, really good--- both in a sermon and in real life.