This is a guest post by a dear BFA friend and past contributor Sara Malak.
One of the things the world ingrains in us as we grow up is that we must be afraid -mostly of the future and everything in it. We hear “strive to be the best! Be as successful as you possibly can be under any circumstances!” That way we don’t have to worry about failure (the fear of all fears!) So we grow up with a million and one shields protecting us from anything and everything. We knock down those who are not as armed as we are and trample on those who are silly enough to walk unshielded. Instead of living as creatures created for the kingdom of heaven, we live by the rules of the animal kingdom.
But maybe this is why our communities, friendships, churches, and families are hurting.
As persons made in the image of the triune God, we long for intimacy and connection. But these walls we build for ourselves harm us by distorting our true identity. We have become so accustomed to striving to be the best that we refuse and deny ourselves to be anything less than that. We build walls so high as if our brothers and sisters are Greek enemies threatening to invade our glorious city, Troy. But sometimes these walls go so high that we can barely see what lies beneath them. Whether that’s on purpose or not, we end up hiding a bruised, swollen, and inflamed wound that continues to bleed.
Christ calls, “Adam where are you?” We may be hiding in shame and fear but Christ has not left us; He left His throne and became human so He could sit with us in our pain and tell us “be of good cheer I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). By taking part in His death we receive His victory. There is nothing to fear, not even death. The Church awaits the coming of the Lord earnestly and peacefully, we are taught to die to the old man that we may live forever. As we pray in Vespers in the litany of the departed, “there is no death to your servants but rather a departure.”
To take a step and “dare greatly” as Dr Brene Brown puts it, I would like to invite you to take the first brick down of your walls of protection, while I do the same. Let us take a step in crucifying our ego to become who we are created to be. Opening ourselves to Christ in humility, vulnerability, and love. Placing our heavy burdens at His feet when it is easier numb the pain.
C.S. Lewis writes:
When we assent with all our will to be so known, then we treat ourselves, in relation to God, not as things but as persons. We have unveiled. Not that any veil could have baffled His sight. The change is in us. Instead of merely being known, we show, we tell, we offer ourselves to view… By unveiling, by confessing our sins and “making known” our requests, we assume the high rank of persons before Him. And He descending becomes a Person to us.
Let us come and sit with our precious Christ. Allow yourself to unveil, to be the Samaritan woman sitting with the Man who met her where she went to quench her thirst for connection and intimacy. She sat with the all knowing, all powerful, all loving God, but His authority does not intimidate, it invites, and His words don’t condemn or belittle, they call upward.
Ask the Samaritan woman, she’ll tell you about a Man who told her all things she’s ever done yet didn’t define her accordingly. She’ll tell you about a Man who praised her honesty when she was trying to hide her shame in a few words. She’ll tell you how gentle He was when she desired to open up to Him. She’ll tell you about a Man who looked her in the eyes and loved her while everyone else looked down at her. She’ll tell you how all her life she’d been shielding and arming herself yet in a few moments stripped herself naked to be clothed in Truth. She’ll tell you how liberated she felt the moment Someone finally knew the shame, darkness and sins she carried yet loved her more than she’s ever been loved before.
No wonder she ran telling people to “come and see a man who told her all things she’d ever done” it’s not like they didn’t know, but now she was willing to reveal herself to her community knowing her worthiness and true identity.
Self revelation or self-awareness alone is not sufficient, I may not trust my distorted view of things but in the light of Christ, I am able to separate the truth of who I am from the lies I have been told about myself. Only in the face of Truth can we claim our true identity. It is this assurance and full faith that granted the Samaritan woman courage to see her darkness and still be able to claim her worthiness, acceptance and belonging in communal intimacy with Christ and then her community. In the light of Christ, our struggles, weaknesses and sins do not shame us or define who who we are but prove how lovable we are.
Hiding oneself from God creates an invisible disease that not only divides our communities, churches and families but also leaves us emptier than ever. Christ prayed “that they may be one as We are one,” while He embraced and exposed His humanity in tears and blood. If oneness comes by self-revelation that requires a great deal of honesty and authenticity, so let us start by being honest with ourselves and with our God until we are courageous enough to be so within our communities.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:19-21).