Monday, August 13, 2012
Matthew Kelly has subtitled this level of intimacy I Need Help! I’m Afraid! I Messed Up! The subtitle sure does describe each and every one of us. While the previous level certainly makes us vulnerable, like crawling around in the bushes at a war zone, this level is pretty much like running around in an open field of a war zone wearing a bright orange vest! In other words, we’re exposed. We’re not just talking about our feelings, we’re sharing where they come from. In a primary relationship, like that of spouses, the revelations here can be pretty personal. In a church relationship, our exposed sources of pain may be the church itself, church goers, or religious people from our past. What you share with your church peers is probably not going to be as deep as it will be with your primary relationships. But that’s ok. Isn’t church for people who need help, are afraid, and have messed up? The best place to be is among others who recognize the same things about their selves!
Church relationships, when predicated on perfection, are bound to fail at some point. No one is perfect, or ever will be on this side of the Jordan! When people recognize their own faults, fears, and failures they are then able to accept those of others. Not all church families are at this point yet. If you are in one of them, you truly are blessed.
Can you admit to your congregational peers that you are less than perfect? That you sometimes think poorly of others – maybe even judgmentally? That you gossip? That you aren’t always truthful? That you can be critical or sharp tongued? Can you tell them what you are afraid of if you are honest with them? Like you fear they will stop being supportive and friendly? That they won’t let you be in a leadership role? And what about your failures? Probably most of them are in your past but they can affect the here and now. Can you tell your fellow church goers that you have made bad choices? Can you tell them that others have been hurt by those choices?
In the church setting, it might sound something like this. “I know I can come across as harsh and critical so I hope you can see through that (fault). I’m really afraid if you don’t agree with me on this issues you’ll think I have nothing to offer you (fear). In the past, when I have felt like this I’ve usually just left and I don’t want to leave this church.” This is, of course, the condensed version but I think you get the point.
The ability to do this as part of a couple indicates a high level of maturity. The ability to do it within a congregation indicates a highly mature congregation. Where is your congregation?