If you would have asked me a few years ago if I was allowing myself to be vulnerable in community, my answer would have been, “yes!” I’ve always been quick to share my day to day frustrations and joys with others, and I’m honest when people ask me questions. However, it wasn’t too long ago that I noticed that I always left social events feeling unknown. One reason I felt this way may have been from some of my own conversation tactics. I have a habit of hiding behind the surface questions by answering as fast as I can, and then promptly turning the conversation on to the other person. I was happy to create a space that allowed other people to be vulnerable with me, but when the tides turned, I was quick to run and hide.
I didn’t notice this pattern in my life until a friend kindly sat me down and shared that she felt like I acted more like her counselor than her friend. I wanted to dive deep with her but not let her dive deep with me. At first, I responded defensively, but as I gave myself time to process, I realized that my friend might be on to something. The feeling of not being known wasn’t because people hadn’t tried to be intentional; it was because I wouldn’t allow myself to be vulnerable.
Over the years I have learned a lot about friendship and community through the people that the Father has so graciously given to me. One of the most recent things the Father has been teaching me comes from the wise words of my sweet sisters Kate Bart and Adelyn Noble - “You can’t fight the enemy in the dark.”
The enemy does some of his best work in the dark. He takes the parts of our hearts that we keep hidden and speaks lies that create shame. This shame makes us silent, and, just like Adam and Eve, we hide. We hide from our Father, thinking we can’t approach his throne until we fix the dark parts of our hearts. And, we hide from our friends, thinking that the embarrassment of sharing our sin is worse than keeping it hidden.
Sisters, both of those thoughts are complete lies and opposed to the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). We don’t have to live in shame because Jesus took our shame on the cross, and in return, he gave us honor. The gospel of Jesus Christ tells us to cast our burdens on him and he will sustain us (Psalm 55:22). It doesn’t say he might sustain us, it says he WILL sustain us!
But, the gospel message does not stop there. Not only does God give us the gift of his Son that allows us to approach his throne free of guilt and shame, but he has also given us the gift of Christian community to push each other towards him. When we are sharing our sin with others we aren’t just telling a story. We are openly allowing others to speak truth into our lives and hold us accountable. When we decide to stop trying to fight the enemy in the dark, the Lord begins to shine his light into the parts of our hearts we never wanted anyone to see. In doing so, he breaks down our shame and unites his Church. While we begin to recognize the depths of our sin together we also become amazed by the depths of his grace.
If our goal is to be made more and more into the image of God, then we must confess our sin to one another, and boldly approach the throne of grace.
This is still a challenge for me. The Father has to continually remind me of my need for confession and community. But I challenge all of us, in a season where it is even easier to remain isolated and hidden, to come out of the darkness, approach the throne of Jesus, and allow your friends to be a part of the journey with you!
Here you can read perspectives on life, ministry and God's Word from a variety of PCC's female leaders.