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Of Being Real

by Leah Nichols  
7/05/2010 / Dating

"Remember our history, friends, and be warned. All our ancestors were led by the providential Cloud and taken miraculously through the Sea. They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life. They all ate and drank identical food and drink, meals provided daily by God. They drank from the Rock, God's fountain for them that stayed with them wherever they were. And the Rock was Christ. But just experiencing God's wonder and grace didn't seem to mean muchmost of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased."
I Corinthians 10:1-5 The Message

I have a confession to make: I am not perfect. All my life I have compared myself to others. And most of the time I am either critiquing others or critiquing myself because I somehow have fallen short.

There. I said it. Whew! Amazingly it feels great to get that off my chest!

Now you can see me as I really am - the real Leah. Not the posted up image of some great spiritual giant (yeah right!) or a person with impossibly high standards developed over many years of walking with God. Nope - just the real, down-to-earth, sinner barely saved by grace critic that I am, who faces a daily battle in her mind over things that she should have resolved years ago if one can achieve perfection in this life.

No, the only perfect person walked the earth about 2000 years ago, and then left it in the care of a bunch of former welfare recipients and church outcasts who preached a crazy message that cost most of them their lives. According to Paul's confession, even the one who wrote most of the New Testament considered himself the "chief of sinners"

In fact, the Bible warns us in the quoted verse above that even the children of Israel who witnessed God's miraculous power of deliverance, heard His voice booming from the mountain, ate manna from heaven, drank water from a rock, and saw the pillars of cloud and fire - even those people of God - fell into temptation and lost the favor of God. We who have not personally experienced the mighty acts of God in this manner ought to take note of their failure. Even if God showed us His awesome power every day of our lives, that alone cannot save us from falling.

After we have recognized our absolute inability to live a perfect life, then, what value can we find in admitting our failings and weaknesses to others? Should we not rather hide them, keeping them locked out of sight so those weak in the faith may not stumble?

On the contrary - the presence of weakness in our lives leaves room for the power of God to shine through us by His abundant grace. Paul states that God receives maximum glory when others can clearly see that we, in our natural state, cannot measure up to His perfection. As we minister to others, they will know that the blessings they receive could not possibly come from us sinners, but only from God Himself.

Yet how does this concept translate into our everyday life? Certainly God would not want us to walk around telling everyone everything we have ever done wrong (see Matthew 7:6 for wisdom regarding that), but at the same time, we need to confess our sins to other Christians to receive full healing.

I believe the balance comes when we simply make a choice to be real in every situation. This means I will not hide my true weaknesses just to "save face". On at least one level everyone in the world can relate - we all have strengths and weaknesses. If I freely admit my weakest fault, no one can point a finger and make me to feel uncomfortable. Once I have acknowledged that fault, others can approach me without fear of judgment, knowing that I recognize that ALL people have fallen short of perfection. If I admit my imperfection, then most likely I will accept another in his or her imperfection as well.

A marvelous benefit comes from this being real. Unconsciously the others around us will follow our example. Not only will they approach us with true vulnerability, but they will drop the walls of feigned perfection as well. Most of the time we can see through others' walls to their weaknesses anyway - why not drop the masks and be real from the start?

One of my favorite verses stirs up that heart of encouragement: "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13). Daily I need that encouragement from those around me to keep my thoughts focused on the positive things in my life, so that I will not fall into a self-critical mindset. If I hide my weakness in that area, I will miss the great encouragement I can receive from others. I challenge you to share your greatest weakness with a dear friend, and ask her to encourage you in that area. God will certainly overwhelm you with His grace as you step into that area of faith.

So if you have expected some great spiritual insight, I apologize for the simplicity of this note. All I can write centers on my personal revelation of grace - God loves and accepts me, even in my weakness. Admitting my weakness opens the way for others to help free me from the pitfalls I face every day. And hopefully, through my confession, others will find that freedom as well.

Just keeping it real.

Leah writes in her spare time....whenever it's available. She and her husband Ryan live in the greater Los Angeles area, where she works as a labor/delivery nurse, writing and playing the violin on the side. She also enjoys cooking, baking, walking, and reading blogs on the internet.

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