The church should be a place where it's safe to be unfinished, incomplete and needy.
~ Henry Cloud/John Townsend~
Today is Sunday. You had prepared for this morning last night. Laid out the kids clothes, bathed everyone, gathered all Bibles and Sunday School materials and put them by the door. You even went to bed early. But for some reason, you overslept. Instead of having two hours to get to church, you now have 30 minutes. It's a mad scramble throughout the entire house. You find yourself snapping at the kids and your husband. They snap back. Your dream of your perfect Christian family morning flies out the window. Again.
Somehow you all manage to get dressed and out to the car. Instead of a peaceful ride to church, the kids get to listen to you and your husband fight. He pulls up to the door of the church to let you out. You adjust your skirt, paste a fake smile on your face, and get out. As you turn around, herding the children in front of you, you see a friend from your Sunday School class. She is also herding children, but she looks totally together. Makeup on, hair in place, nice outfit. Her kids look neat and clean. You notice that one of your kids has donut crumbs on the front of his shirt. You pretend to hug him while you wipe away the crumbs. As you straighten up, she says, "Hi. How are you today?"
What do you do?
If you're like most of us, you pretend. You try not to let your mask slip, because if you did, the tears would begin to fall. Surely no one else has to deal with these problems.
"Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone." (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
So who are the weak? You. Me. Your neighbor. The person who sits across from you in Sunday School. The teenage boy who mows your lawn.
"For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; So that he does not forsake the fear of the Almighty. (Job 6:14)
The despairing man. Does that sound like you? Desperate to be a "good" Christian? Thinking that you'll never 'get it right'? Believing that you're the only one who's bad?
The older I get, the more I know that each person I see, whether at church or elsewhere, has a broken place. It's our privilege to help heal those broken places and broken people. But remember that they need to help you too. Be a friend. Give grace to each other. Share your hurts and needs. I need to know that you're like me. I need to know that you struggle - that you're wounded too. See, I want to dress your wounds. And I want you to dress mine. We each need to share our hurt and pain. We need to share it with God, and we need to share it with people. It's when we share our broken places that we heal.
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How do I critique an article that's prefect? Okay, fine, no article is perfect, but being one of those unfinished families this article has a lot of meaning for me. I really like how you showed the mom putting on the mask even though the fellow member didn't expect her too. What I mean is that even in a loving environment we still try to hide what we perceive as our failings. Maybe the only thing that bothers me (and this is completely personal) is that Mom is fighting with Dad as if he doesn't want to go to church. You may not mean that, or maybe you want to make that point. That's valid, because it's too often true. It's just not true in my family. My wife and I equally want our family to attend church and sunday school, but I must admit that I know families like that at my church. I always want to grab those guys and say "why can't you at least do this for your wife?" But I'm a small guy and, well,...
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