Honesty is the best policy.
Remember hearing that phrase all throughout grade school? I can hear my 3rd-grade teacher’s voice ringing in my head.
I’m not saying honesty isn’t good – but throughout all the times I heard how good it is, to be honest, I never really was told that being honest is hard. Sure in 3rd-grade when we have stolen a lollipop* it is hard, to be honest, and admit that – so maybe that didn’t need to be taught.
*I may or may not have let a kid in my 3rd-grade class take the fall for me stealing a lollipop from the girl next to me. I forget your name but if you are out there – I’m sorry. Allegedly.
As we get older, being honest has more ‘consequences’ – I mean it’s still the best policy – but the perceived or very real response from people when we are honest is bigger than, no more candy for a month from Ms. Harris*.
Again another punishment that may or may not have been my fault.
As we get older, it’s not that we are directly lying about things, but we definitely don’t lean towards being honest. I think one of the biggest areas we can see this is in our personal life. We have all kinds of motivations for the things we do in life. Some of them are good and pure – some not so much.
Beyond motivations, think about how we interact in relationships. There are times we are not honest about our feelings, our fears, and our thoughts. This probably stems from a fear of how the person will react OR we don’t even want to be honest with ourselves.
Think about it – if we honestly voice something we think, feel, or fear we have given validation to it. We have confirmed to ourselves that we really think that. On top of that, we can’t control how people will respond. So it can feel like it’s not worth letting ourselves really explore how we feel – or give a voice to those thoughts.
The most common example I see is on my college campus. Students will go into a major or field that their parents have picked for them or that they feel pressured to go into. When I ask them, “what would you do with your life if money weren’t an issue and you weren’t strapped to what people demand of you.” 9 out of 10 times they are shocked I’m asking because they have never let themselves really explore what ‘that life’ would be. In other words – they aren’t honest with themselves and others.
When we bring this into spiritual life there is obviously another dynamic – what will God thing about my honesty? If I pray these thoughts – or even voice them- then I’m validating I’m feeling them and confirming that to God.
I mean whether you believe in God or not – I think you can agree that if it turns out He is real – there are things you think that you’d rather He didn’t know. Things like, “we think we could be better at being God than Him or what about, that we think His rules are kinda dumb.”
Let’s go deeper. We aren’t sure if He is real. We aren’t sure if He cares. We aren’t sure He is good. We aren’t sure if He has the power to help. We don’t think He wants to help.
What if you are Christian or believe in God and think that stuff?
Whew! Imagine believing in God but then having these deep doubts about Him. Again, it doesn’t take a pastor to see – that’s not good.
You should probably never admit that right? It has got to be dangerous to admit that out loud because you’re a ‘believer.’ You don’t want to validate it because what would God think? What would other believers think? What would non-believers think?
I think there is something inside of us that fears what other people would say if we voiced our doubts. Believers would think we don’t have enough ‘faith’ while non-believers would say/think “Man if believers have doubts than obviously, it’s flawed.” Then obviously we can’t let God know what we think, feel, or doubt. I mean if He knew all the stuff in our head – He’d have enough reason to strike us with a lightning bolt.
Maybe you can relate, or maybe I’m just a madman.
Either way, I haven’t really been honest with myself, with God, or with others about how I’m doing. I hid this from myself because I’m a leader, a believer, a husband, a father. I knew that if I allowed myself to be honest about the past year, how I felt, and what I thought – I wouldn’t like where I went. I wasn’t sure (still) what people would think about my honesty. Lastly, I wasn’t sure what God would think.
So instead of letting myself be honest I muscled through and powered through all the S*** that has happened. I put on a smile and quoted verse after verse about how God is with us. Heck, I even wrote a blog post about it. I told everyone, “Life is hard, but I believe God is with us and at work.”
When I wrote that I was talking about how I felt …
But I wasn’t totally honest.
It’s hard for me to be honest about my doubts and frustration with God. I mean I’m the dude with Bible verses tatted on my arm, I work in missions, and tell other people how great following Jesus is. So what would happen if I told the truth about my doubts? Told the truth about being mad?
Here is the honest truth …
I’m mad at God. I’m so hurt and sad. I’m frustrated that life has been hard in pretty much every area. And I’m annoyed God doesn’t seem to help me more.
I’m mad, hurt, and sad because my wife had a miscarriage. One of the greatest things in my life is being a father, and I lost a child. I’m mad, hurt, and sad because the day my wife went back to work after having her miscarriage I got a call she was in ER. Turns out she has brain scaring that has lead to a seizure disorder – not healthy to have kids anytime soon. Not only that but she can’t drive, can’t really work, and can’t go to school.
There are also a million other small things that seem to make these even worse, but that has been the crux of my frustration.
Here is the thing…. I still believe in God. I actually believe in everything I said in When Life Sucks … Then Sucks Some More. But I have found great freedom in admitting to Him and to some close friends that I’m hurt, mad, and upset. The funny thing is – if God is real – He already knows. I don’t think it shocked Him when I finally admitted that I was upset.
In fact, I think God was happy I was finally honest – because just like any relationship movement forward can only happen when we are honest.
Here is my last bit of honesty – being honest that I’m mad and hurt didn’t fix anything. Externally that is. All the same, things that I’m frustrated by are still there, but I’m reminded of an interesting story in Mark 9. Where a man asks Jesus to heal his son if he can.
Jesus is very quick to point out what the man says, verse 23- “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
The man’s response is the part I find interesting, verse 24 – “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”. If you read the story, Jesus then healed the man’s son.
So did the man believe or not believe? …. YES! There was an element of both belief and unbelief in the man. He very clearly had doubts, yet he wasn’t giving up on Jesus and God. He believed in Jesus, and he just wasn’t fully sure – all in one.
That my friends is where I am. I 100% believe in God’s power, His Love, His Grace, and His Mercy. If I’m honest though there are doubts inside me about if He’ll take care of me. If things will work out. And if my family will be okay.
The cool thing though – God knows that, and He’s totally cool that I honestly share that with Him. In fact, we are encouraged to do so …
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
Sometimes, it just takes some humility to get there.