That scary place no one wants to be, no one wants to admit exists, that we cover with sparkles and sprinkles to make it pretty.
That place where we keep all of our fears, realities, mistakes, pain, bloody messes.
The face of someone holding a secret.
The face of someone trying to live up to impossible expectations.
The face of someone trying to be everything else but who he or she really is.
The camouflaged face of someone trying to blend in with everyone else.
In the church (the community, not the building or a specific congregation), we are often afraid to be vulnerable. We will admit to problems like lack of prayer life, not being good with tithing, or being afraid of upcoming procedures and diseases.
But we cover up our most vulnerable and emotional places and refuse to speak them out loud.
Why? Why do we care so much about what others think of us?
Is it because we live in a society that judges us harshly by our abilities?
Is it because we've been programmed to act a certain way?
Is it because we live in a world of norms and rights and wrongs?
When did we stop accepting people with love, and begin loving them only when they fit into our molds of acceptability?
It hurts my heart to see people so consumed with their attempts to cover up their most vulnerable spots that they cease to exist.
Why do we insist on doing this to others? Why do we only accept them if they live in our world of perfection and dos and don'ts?
I love the people in my world who are the most transparent. They are the ones who allow their baggage to hang out a little. They are the ones who are unafraid to be real.
They are the ones who make us feel a little better about ourselves because they are not pretending to be perfection.
Because none of us are perfect. Remember?
I think back to the times that I was most in awe of people's transparency: a young unmarried couple expecting a child standing before their church family, a friend admitting to fighting drug addiction, a friend admitting to being homosexual, a friend exposing a secret that could permanently destroy her career, a friend wrestling with past mistakes and a painful divorce.
When someone comes to us and shares their pain and suffering, do we shun them? Do we take their vulnerability and shove it in their face? Do we discourage them from ever being vulnerable again?
Or, do we love them regardless? Do we admit that we're not perfect people and that perhaps a little mercy and compassion is the best thing we could offer?
I tend to sympathize with the vulnerable. I find beauty in the soul and the gut wrenchedness that comes with exposure. My heart beats quickly when people act like people and not like the shells of humanity that surround me on a daily basis. I embrace that side of humanity. The artist within me craves the depths of reality.
Last night, Chris and I watched "Inception." First, let me suggest watching it about six times to catch everything.
But, I was interested in the movie's idea of projections. We expect people to act like projections everyday. Don't stick out, don't rock the boat, don't act like yourself--just blend in. We tend to get nervous around people who don't act like they are supposed to. Who don't follow the rules. Who don't play nice.
I'm not talking about being polite, I'm talking about the humanized system of dos and don't we've created in the church. The hierarchy of sins in which lust is wrong, but it's ok for you to do five over the speed limit. It's wrong to curse, but it's ok to tell the old lady you love her new blue hairdo. It's wrong to be addicted to porn, but it's ok to be addicted to cigarettes or food.
I feel like most of us desire to be around people who just accept who they are. Those who don't try to convince us to like them, those who don't try so hard to be acceptable, those who aren't obnoxious about their system of life. We hate those people who are ridiculous and try to overexert themselves to call attention away from what's eating them the most.
This is a call to love one another. And that means embracing the whole person, not just selecting qualities like produce--eating what's good and discarding the rest.
We will never be able to love others until we actually start loving others.
Warts and all.