Honest to God

February 26, 2013 — 7 Comments

As I’ve mentioned before, the last months have been challenging for me on several fronts. In the midst of this, I’ve discovered I don’t want to face the pain and discouragement I’m feeling. I want to close my eyes, click my ruby red shoes three times, and be magically transported to safety as all my difficulties disappear.

The problem with this approach is that it can turn me into a whitewashed tomb. Jesus talked about the Pharisees who looked righteous on the outside but inside were hypocrites. When I’m struggling, I’m not worried about appearing righteous but I do want to be seen as strong and competent–even to myself.

So I ignore the unpleasant feelings in me, hoping they will get the message and slink away. But pain is a signal that something is wrong. It’s like a flashing red light along the road that warns us there is danger ahead.

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When I pretend everything is fine, I soon become like a whitewashed tomb. I hide the sorry state of my heart with a coat of happy whitewash to mask the cracks and the mold. I spend time with God but I’m only skating on the surface. I’ll read scripture and pray but since my heart is closed off, it becomes just a mental exercise.

The Lord says:
“These people come near to Me with their mouth
and honor Me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from Me.
Isaiah 29:13

Keeping my distance
So instead of coming closer to God [which is exactly what I need during hard times], I keep Him at a distance. The same dynamic works in our human relationships too. The easiest way to put someone at arm’s length is to avoid telling them what is really going on in my life. And that’s how I become like a whitewashed tomb: pretty on the outside, dead on the inside.

Of course when I keep quiet about what I’m feeling, I’m not keeping anything from God. He knows the state of my heart better than I do. He is intimately aware of the turmoil I try to ignore.

O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
Psalm 139:1-4

Honest to me
This means that telling God what I feel isn’t for His benefit. It’s to help me. Because even though God knows what’s going on in my life until I admit it I keep Him shut out. But as I share where I am and what I am feeling, my heart opens up to God. Then He can respond with His love and power. He can begin to bring healing.

God’s Word is filled with examples of this. Over and over in the psalms, a person will cry out to God honestly and without any filters. The person pours out anger, fear, disappointment, rage. But eventually, he is reminded of who God is and what He can do, how He remains faithful to us all the time.

Often the psalm will conclude with a burst of praise, but it’s not a superficial or intellectual act of worship. The psalmist is speaking from the depths of his heart. In the process of being honest with God, he has drawn near to Him. For sharing our innermost struggles with another person is the quickest way we become close to them.**

The seeking One
“Where are you?” God asked Adam and Eve as they hid from Him in the garden.

“Where are you?” He asks each of us. “Trust Me. Bring your fears to Me. Talk to Me about your disappointments and your pain. Don’t keep it locked away where it will fester. Honor Me with your confidence and confide in Me. Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you** I want you to experience My perfect love which will push your fears aside.” **

It’s true. For all my dread of facing painful feelings, I can’t remember one time when I’ve felt worse after honestly pouring out my heart to God.

I think it may be like The Velveteen Rabbit, the story of how a stuffed rabbit becomes real through the love of a boy.

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It seems the reverse can happen between us and God. He is real and vibrant but my relationship with Him can turn into a lifeless velveteen faith that I keep out of the way on a shelf. Pretty to look at but not part of my nitty-gritty life.

That’s why it’s so vital that I admit what is going on with me. Being honest is the lifeblood of a real, honest-to-God relationship.

What about you? What secrets are you hiding from yourself? Where do you need to be honest with God?

real rabbit
**Notes
Giving an honest answer is a sign of true friendship.
Proverbs 24:26

Come near to God and He will come near to you.

James 4:8

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them… There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
I John 4:16,18

7 responses to Honest to God

  1. 
    Nancy Lukas-Slaoui February 26, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you so much for these inspiring words that came just when my earthly plate was spilling over with fears, grief, and responsibilities. I am not alone. Jesus walks beside me in all that I face. I must brings these feelings to Him in constant, daily prayer. I must confess my fears and lean on His love and strength. Thank you, Annie, for reminding me, yet again, that I am not alone.

  2. 

    So well put, Annie. “When I’m struggling, I’m not worried about appearing righteous but I do want to be seen as strong and competent–even to myself. So I ignore the unpleasant feelings in me, hoping they will get the message and slink away. But pain is a signal that something is wrong.”

    You’ve given me a new way to think about hypocrisy. I think of Pharisaical hypocrisy – religious performance for the sake of others – but have never thought about hypocrisy in terms of attempting to fool myself.

    But of course, that’s really at the heart of all hypocrisy, isn’t it? I try to fool myself into believing I am something I’m not. (Eeew.Not a pretty picture.)

    May you find rest and restoration through this challenging season as you speak the truth in love to yourself and to the Lord. Blessings to you –

    • 

      Thanks Michelle. I was reminded of the scene in “Room with a View” where Lucy Honeychurch lies to herself about her feelings for George Emerson. Too often, I’m like her–lying to myself, to God, to others–instead of facing the truth.

  3. 

    Excellent post. We don’t tend to think of “whitewashed tombs” being ourselves when we hide our struggles, but I think this is true, and that confessing our sins to one another can bring healing (from somewhere in James).

  4. 

    “For all my dread of facing painful feelings, I can’t remember one time when I’ve felt worse after honestly pouring out my heart to God.” I’m going to chew on this one today. Once again, thank you for a heart-probing post.

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