Recently, the women in my church began a study on the book of Jeremiah. I've never been a part of a women’s bible study that was not full of fluff and facades. However, I had been desiring one in which we took off the "I have my life perfectly together" hat and put on the "my life's a struggle and I'm in need of God's daily grace" hat.
Women are quite good at putting up a facade by pretending they're okay, pretending their life is in order, pretending they are not in need of help, or pretending they are someone contrary to whom they truly are. I’m 100% guilty of this.
Why do we do this? Why do we close ourselves off? Well, letting people in is risky. I discussed in my last post how the standards the world presents hinder our ability to be genuinely us. That includes sharing the depths of our heart with those we love. Therefore, we are also unable to be transparent and vulnerable in our community for fear we will disappoint or be judged.
When we decide to let someone in, we are signing up for potential judgment, hurt, disappointment, or condemnation. BUT, we are also signing up for encouragement, accountability, compassion, support, and counsel.
More times than not, bible studies for women function in a similar way. You come, meet with a group of ladies you probably do not know all too well, talk solely about surface level topics and the content of the study, but not what's actually going on in your heart. However, that's not how our first meeting went. Praise The Lord!
We established that it would be a safe place we could discuss the tough, difficult, embarrassing, shameful, and controversial things present in our lives; a place in which we could be totally transparent free from judgment. It was in that moment that I felt an overwhelming conviction from The Spirit to share what had been going on in my life for the past decade.
Galatians 1:10 asks,
"For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."
I battled with this conviction for minutes, which felt like hours. The more I fought God, the more I ran from Him…the more my heart beat faster and harder. I ran because I was absolutely terrified of what they would think of me. It was the first time in my life I had a paralyzing conviction to be obedient. Eventually, I caved. I cried a lot. I shared. I felt peace. Peace that permeated my soul. I was able to relax and finally stop running, hiding, and carrying this burden.
To my shock, it was received well. Their view of me did not waiver based on the honesty of my past. SO much good has come from my obedience and transparency, which I did not expect. I even felt physically lighter, like a 40 pound weight was lifted from my shoulders. My trust in God was significantly heightened. My friendships changed drastically. I was able to live freely around them because they knew me, the real me. They knew the deepest, darkest, most shameful areas of me and loved me still. Women bond through vulnerability because we like to know we're not alone in this struggle and that we're not the only one with a messy life.
“The LORD gives his people strength. The LORD blesses them with peace.”
Peace comes from God, not sin. When we put our trust in the One who made our brains and made us able to trust in Him, we no longer have anxiety about our futures. Feeling restless? Seek and obey the Lord God and rest will come.
God is my only source of peace. It is only in His presence that I feel absolute peace, safety, comfort, and security.
We are called to live in perfect obedience to The Lord. So why is it so hard? Why do we run from His promptings? We think we know what is best for our lives. We don't trust He has something better planed. We can't see past our present circumstances. God can, though. He knows our future.
Jesus said in John 14:27,
“I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart, And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Acts 5:29 says,
"But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
If you're not living your life being genuinely you, then you're not living - you're performing. You're no different than the actress in your favorite movie. Performers seek applause and affirmation to know what they are doing is acceptable and appreciated. Human beings fear rejection, so we seek acceptance. Think about all the televised awards shows there are.
However, we are not widely accepted when we are pretending to be someone other than ourselves. We are accepted when we are being genuinely us. When I stopped trying to please the world, I actually achieved acceptance.
See you in the Round!
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."