These are the words I cannot shake when I ponder and pray about my new season in the blogosphere. I love that my computer didn't put the squiggly lines under the word "blogosphere" btw... I actually didn't know it was a legit word...
I want this to be a place where "real talk" can happen. Where I can be me, and you can be you. A place where you feel welcomed to share comments, prayer needs, what God is showing you about any topic that I blog about.
One of my least favorite things about authenticity is that it generally requires a great deal of vulnerability. They're kindred spirits, as far as I can tell. Plainly stated: vulnerability isn't my strongest quality. I have struggled with a desire- what's more, a pressure- to appear "perfect and good" throughout my whole life. Of course I know that no one actually thinks I am perfect. But the pressure has been there still. Perhaps the most unnerving thing about this is that my ambition has never been to actually be perfect, but merely to appear perfect.
Yeah... For years (and I mean years) I didn't really know what the driving force behind this pressure was. I blamed my parents, church leaders and teachers who set the bar "too high". I blamed anyone who praised me only when I was "good". I blamed every youth leader I ever had for quoting 1 Timothy 4:12 to me over and over. I blamed "middle child syndrome". I blamed all the things I could see, without giving thought to praying to God, Who searches the heart and examines secret motives (Jeremiah 17:10).
I recently read "The Fear of the Lord" by John Bevere. I would highly recommend that every Christian friend of mine take the time to read this gem of a book. [I will loan my copy to you if you promise to read it and return it, because it's one I intend to read again.] God's Holy Spirit, through this book, revealed much to me regarding the state of my heart, including the root issue of my perfection pressure: The fear of man. In case you're not familiar with the terminology, I'll give a very simple definition... "The fear of man" is the honoring of the opinions, praise and approval of people above the approval of Almighty God. It is idolatrous to the core, breaking the first commandment: "You shall have NO other gods before Me". When we value the opinions and seek the approval of people above obedience and reverence toward God, well, we have placed another god before Him. John Bevere states in this book, "If you desire the praise of man, you will fear man. If you fear man, you will serve him - for you will serve what you fear". The fear of man and the fear of the Lord are mutually exclusive. The fear of man enslaves, the fear of God liberates.
God is beginning to break me of my perfectionism, my high regard for the opinions of people. Fearing Him - reverencing Him and honoring Him and valuing His approval - it is setting me free. It's not that I no longer care what people think about me. I still care, but I'm caring less. And that "not caring" isn't about arrogance or proving myself, etc... I'm just seriously starting to care more about what God thinks about me! I feel like my understanding of this is still so small, but already it is freeing me to love and live and worship in a new way. A liberated way.
Proverbs 9:10 says "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom..." which means I'm only at the start of this journey. I realize that I've been held back for many years because I made myself a prisoner to the opinions of others. No one can be blamed for this but me. But now by His grace, in learning to fear Him, I am free to grow in wisdom and understanding of His character and nature. So basically I'm just a newbie.
All this to say, authenticity will be a new standard here, by His grace. The fear of God is freeing me to be real. I will talk a little more about edification in my next post, Lord willing... but for now, thanks for reading, please feel free to comment or email me your thoughts. Praying for you all.