Monday, June 11, 2012

The Answer Is A SQUIRREL! Get Real!

"If your house was burning down, but you knew you had time to safely grab three things, what would you grab?"  

I heard this question asked during a Sunday School lesson sometime in my early adolescent years.  Used as a tool to get kids to ponder what truly matters, the question was a good one.

BUT... for a kid like me who was all about giving the "right" answers in order to please the audience, I quickly weighed my answer according to the "invisible-ultra spiritual-scale" that would score me the biggest points.

0 points - Selfish things such as a favorite toy, stuffed animal, or shirt.
3 points - Semi-important family items such as birth certificates, Social Security
                  cards, bills
5 points - Sentimental family items such as pictures, hand-made art hanging on
                  the fringe
10 points - Spiritual items such as hymn book, concordance, old sermon notes
50 points - My Bible
200 points - Everyone's bibles, especially the ones containing the most hand-
                   written study notes

What I was really thinking I'd have wanted to save from the fiery grave was my favorite stuffed deer named Bambi, the afghan my grandma crocheted for me, and my favorite necklace of a bear swinging from the chain.  But what I said and thought was this:

"I'd have to say my Bible" (even though I know I could buy a new one but 
                                                   that's the "right" answer!)
"My dad and mom's bibles" (because that shows I'm thinking of them)
"Nothing else" (because that drives home the proof that I don't love earthly 
                                      possessions.  That sounds very, VERY spiritually mature)

I was truly a pleaser to the core of my being!  I didn't answer with genuine answers because I'd predetermined those were not the "right" answers to give a teacher.  And what's a teacher suppose to say to that?  "Oh, come on kid!  What would you honestly grab?"  Are there children in  the world that would  grab their bibles from a burning house?  Probably.  But in the back of my head, I knew I could go down to the local book store and buy another, but that sounded shallow.

We are taught to Be honest - Don't lie. Well, except at church. How do we become people who smile and answer "I'm fine" when things are actually going haywire?  I don't know if there is one big universal answer for everyone but I think it's tied to a belief that being "real" can make you vulnerable to judgement.  Inside, we can play the mind game just like I did when the burning house question came - "I'd like to say I'm lonely today or being a mom is tough sometimes, but the answer with the most points is 'FINE'".  

Sometimes our lives aren't fine.  Sometimes we are stuck in a crazy cycle in our marriages.  Some days we wish we could have the whole house to ourselves because our kids are driving us insane.  Sometimes we blow it big time and  reap the consequences of our own sin.  Some days we are surrounded by people and yet we feel like an island.  Let's be real!  There are good times.  But there are bad times, too.  We need to be loving and gracious with each other in all circumstances.  

Here's an easy test to take to see if you are comfortable being genuine.  Ask this question:

"What's got a bushy tail, lives in trees and eats nuts?"

If you want to answer "Jesus" just because that's the "right" answer, then maybe you're struggling with being honest and genuine.  By the way, for all you fellow Pharisees out there, the answer is A SQUIRREL!  And yes, Jesus is also the answer to all the things in life that truly matter - honest!  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Want To Be Genuine...Not a Convincing Counterfeit

Genuine - not fake or counterfeit; original; real; authentic

Have you ever seen a picture that was so gorgeous that you were almost sure it had to be doctored?  Or something so strange you knew it couldn't be real?

This is definitely...

           NOT REAL!

But  it is amazing how authentic it looks.

These days, as kids watch movies, I often wonder if they can even tell the difference between the genuine and the computer generated images since it all melds together so smoothly.  I remember watching Sci Fi movies and groaning to my brother, "That doesn't even look real."  Corny effects helped to expose the artificial origins.  How are we suppose to detect the difference these days?

The "fake" looks so convincing anymore.  Bombarded with "perfect" images everywhere, we can hardly remember what a picture of a woman looks like without the airbrushed transformations on every crease and shadow of her face and body.  We crave the authentic and yet are drowning in the believable artificial!

Convincing Counterfeits.
                            We are surrounded by them.
                                                           Sometimes....we are them.

Legalism is very dangerous because of how authentically good it looks on the outside when inside, it's not as it appears.
     Legalism convinces the brokenhearted to put on a mask of happiness.
     Legalism makes mirages out of unhealthy marriages.
     Legalism controls the child to behave instead of learn.
     Legalism hides corrupt priests in honorable looking robes.
     Legalism hides the truth for fear of what others may say.

I've been trying to put into words how important being "real" with each other is. I'm struggling to gather my thoughts.  Perhaps it's because I am in the process of learning this myself.  It's difficult to write about something when you're still formulating your thoughts.  Bear with me.  I plan to write on this through out the week.

As one of my favorite quotes says..."We do not write in order to be understood, but we write in order to understand." -C. Day Lewis    Guess I have yet to understand genuine.  I know I want to be real and allow others to feel like they can be real around me.  It's one of my favorite things about God.  He is who he says he is and he takes me as I am.  No airbrushing needed.  In fact, he's seen every part of me - even the garbage.  It doesn't get anymore real than that!