I don't want to be a friend in the ditch. Let me explain...Many times in my life, both in the past, and currently, I've struggled (and still struggle) in many ways. When I get in those 'funks' what I really want to do is sit down, wallow & quit. But I don't want that for those around me. I have a passion that burns to see other people press on and not give up, so how can I? It would render me completely useless as a friend to them! You see, you can commiserate with someone, but unless you have personally pressed through something, made it to the 'other side', experienced victory you really can't help them. If I'm in a ditch, and can't get out, I can't pull anyone else out either. But, if I at least have one foot out, then I'm suddenly much more useful to them. I may only be months, days, maybe even hours ahead, but if I'm moving, I can encourage someone else. The minute I stop moving is the minute I am of no use in encouraging, challenging, walking with others. I can't walk WITH someone if I'm not walking.
Let me clarify - I am not talking about being 'real'. I champion 'transparency' - it's only through others being willing to bare their souls and share their guts with me that I've made it through some of the worst times of my life. BUT...if those that shared with me had not made it through, had not had hope to offer me...if the best they could do was commiserate, share my sorrow, and be willing to wallow with me (throw me the proverbial 'pity party') they would not have helped me one iota.
I get the impression sometimes that people think that Christians who believe that they can experience victory, healing and growth aren't real. On occasion, when I've spoken of God bringing healing to my hurts, transformation to my life, my marriage, whatever, I get written off as one of those 'prosperity' Christians or something. While I can see that this COULD be true of some, I would say that that flavor of 'fake Christianity' also tend to not share the fact that they struggle at all (or at least not until it's all dealt with), or they simply focus on telling others how good God is and put off an air that everything in their life is peaches and cream.
This is one (of the many) reasons why community is so important. We all need a place to have real relationship where you let others in, not ONLY to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, but where you can see others pull through, see them PROGRESS on the Journey, see God's transforming power, in all IT'S 'realness'! Of course, if we never allow anyone in, if we keep things on the surface - not only with other Christians, but with unbelievers as well - we perpetuate the facade, the fake-ness that conveys to people that the church is filled with hypocrites.
A prime example of this is a precious friend of mine who went through an extremely traumatic period last year. The journey back was a long and grueling struggle. As she walked this hard road, she was very open about her struggles, especially with people she worked with. As God graciously, tenderly and miraculously brought her through this time, the unbelievers around her watched the transformation. There was no refuting the change that came about it her. It would have done no good for her to hide her trials, other than maybe 'saving face' for herself. But now the testimony of her life is irrefutable to those who have watched her grow and change. She's a different person, and no one could deny that. One of my favorite things that she says when we talk about how wonderful it's been that she's been able to walk out this journey for those people to see is "Oh yeah, I have no skeletons in the closet. They regularly come out and have tea."
Here's to being real, and still pressing on.