The older I’ve grown, the more acquainted I’ve become with the reality of imperfection. If there’s one thing that’s certain in life, it’s that you’ll be met with endless opportunities to fall. Sometimes, you will actually fall. And that’s ok. For some reason, people really don’t like talking about their messes – especially in the Kingdom. No, the Church is obsessed with looking put-together. It’s as if we as Christians believe that God is convinced by our facades, or that if we seem perfect, people will want to know Jesus. But God isn’t a fool and Jesus isn’t fond of masks. Even people can see through the veils that we hang to hide our brokenness and shame. The world doesn’t need another “perfect” person to demonstrate the unattainable. They need honesty.
Our core cravings as humans are to be known and loved. These desires are pure and given to us by a God that has the ability and intention to fulfill them. In the wake of sin, our desires have been corrupted and replaced with lesser desires – to be admired and impressive. In secular society, it’s evident in the unrealistic beauty and social standards. In Christian culture, it can be seen in our relentless desire for control and respect. Both are rivers that flow from the same sea. It’s important to note that these lesser desires cannot and will not fulfill us. Thus, the sea flows into the rivers of the world and corrupts all who swim in their currents.
Corruption breeds insecurity. Insecurity is a virus that poisons the minds and spirits of all who are touched by it. “Suffering is messy, so let’s talk about our blessings.” “Oh, man! I’ve gotta go buy some more of those cute, baggy t-shirts so that my postpartum belly doesn’t draw attention to the fact that I don’t have the body of Kate Middleton.” “No one wants to see my PMS zits, so give me an hour to do my makeup before we go to Target, ok?” Or better yet, “I’m gonna post a photo of my Bible opened to Proverbs 31 and a journal entry from last week so that people think I did my quiet time and I’m a good Christian.” Honestly, I don’t think that anyone consciously thinks these things. I believe they are a result of learned behavior. The art of covering up that has been passed down through the generations.
It all started in the Garden. Remember when Adam hid from God? God came looking for him, but he was gone. He was hiding from the shame of his nakedness. Sin caused him to become self-aware in the most negative sense and to navel-gaze to the point that he missed the point. He missed the fact that God wasn’t worried that he was naked. God had always known and He still loved and enjoyed him. You see, God just wanted to spend time with him – vulnerable, curtain drawn, walls unbuilt. But Adam built the wall and thus began the family business.
We have been trained to hide behind whatever will attract positive attention. Whether it stems from a lack of attention as a child or a surplus of negative/abusive attention, nearly all have grown into the same hand-me-down shoes. All have a sense that who they are at their core isn’t enough and instead of recognizing it as their innate longing for God’s completion, they cover their essence like makeup on a blemish. I wonder, what would it look like to live free from these chains? What would a person who rests in the reality of their sonship and acceptance walk like? What would they do differently with their time? Who would they spend their lives in community with? So much would change – it would have to. Walking as a child of God must look different than walking in the patterns of the world.
So, my proposal is this: let’s drop the masks and live as children of a King who loves well. Let’s stop settling for admiration and good impressions and seek the adoration and intentionality we were created for. Let’s give up trying to fill our God-sized need with people and things. Let’s tear down the walls built up over the generations and get honest. Let’s create patterns of self-worth and acceptance that eliminate words like “perfect” outside of the context of Jesus to teach to our children. We weren’t meant for the load that we try to carry – the only perfect Man already carried it for us, reversing the culture of Adam, and thus restored to us the gift of intimacy with a Father who just wants to walk with us. Let’s rest in that, shall we?
words by Olivia Douglas and photo by Tianna Munro