I have a love/hate relationship with traditional systems. As a somewhat OCD driven kinda person, I love organization and structure. How else would I get stuff done?! I make lists… long ones… for every-stinking-thing. I check stuff off and feel oh-so productive. Howeverrr, I hate the way formal systems encourage pretense and discourage real-life relationships.
Oh the trouble mine eyes have seen in the under-belly of formal settings — namely within Christianity. I’ll stop myself from going off on a tangent though, and focus instead on what we can personally do to encourage healthy habits — to have souls fit for real-life relationships.
Dang-it — I want to know people. Not the dressed-up-in-my-perfect-Sunday-suit & smile version, but the real people with actual feelings and frustrations and struggles.
And dang-it, I want to be known. Not the always happy, smiling & filtered, Jamie — but the one with sadness, anger, fears and pain. I’m not suggesting we commiserate to just stew in our troubles, but rather to encourage and support one another for the sake of love, friendship & healing.So, I hope you’re on board with me and want to know how we can better do this real-life relationship thing — to know people and be known.
First of all, we can bare our souls on a blog. Ha! (check) Of course, we don’t have to blog to share ourselves. Some people write songs or poetry or speeches or memoirs. Practice expressing YOU in whatever way God has laid on your heart, because this world needs real people, not soul-less people.
A little warning — those who like to keep up appearances may have a nasty reaction to your being so… so real and all. Naysayers may shame you for exposing personal stuff, but hear me on this: there was a book written that exposes more personal stuff about more people than ANY OTHER I have EVER come across and it’s called the Bible. If God gives us the freedom to be transparent and vulnerable, let’s claim every square inch of it — in Jesus’ Name, amen. = )
If you’re anything like me — one who feels a lot of tension between caring about what people think of me, yet wanting to be true to myself and my God — I have encouragement for you. This is a good tension to have and one that won’t end this side of heaven. If Jesus experienced it, so will we. We can rest in the tension knowing we’ve been accepted by God, and friends — at the end of it all, that’s what really matters most.
The second thing we can do for a healthy soul is practice good, old-fashioned hospitality. If our main interaction is at church gatherings, our relationships will stay pretty shallow, mechanical & sterile. The individual care we all need is easily lost in tight schedules. Don’t get me wrong, we need the church and schedules for continued meeting and training, but far FAR more important is our need for informal gathering — that is, in our homes, where deeper connection grows best — where schedules can be thrown out the window for more important things.
Getting together, sharing soul-stuff & encouraging — that’s my sweet spot. If we’re working on something with our hands in the process, that’s even sweeter! When we open up our homes and hearts to people, the message is clear: We want to know you ( the real you) and for you to know us (the real us). It’s so simple and so refreshing.
Finally, and most important is that we help each other see Jesus through it all — not a religious system, but the man, Jesus. All too often, I’ve focused on His words alone. I thought I was doing so good, but I needed to look even closer at what He DID, not solely what He said.
Jesus had skin like ours that got dirty, that went outside the camp to bring comfort and encouragement to the weak and sick who longed for help. He had feelings, frustrations and struggles. He didn’t hide these things. He was full of grace, and at the same time, He walked in Truth. This included very real feelings about what He loved and what He hated. In this way, He led others to do the same. That’s love and friendship at its finest.
“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Let’s be real, invite others to do the same, look to Jesus — and live healthy together.
Your friend in life, faith & art ~ Jamie