Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brutal Honesty

I just read a book by Kristen Johnston, called “Guts”. Johnston is an actress (3rd Rock from the Sun) who is also a recovering alcoholic/drug addict. She swears like a sailor, and she and I would not see eye to eye on much of anything relating to religion or politics. One thing we do see eye to eye on is the need for honesty… the brutal, gut-level kind. And that is what I found refreshing about her book.

I really didn’t even mind her swearing and I eventually got past the religious and political gap--first, because she doesn’t spend a large amount of time talking about those things; and second, because I was so drawn in by the way she admitted that she used to lie… all the time… about everything. A huge part of her recovery, and probably the biggest hurdle she had to cross was telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. She had never done that before, and she didn’t think anyone else did either.

Being a recovering Polly Anna (and liar… the denial kind), I value brutal honesty more than I ever knew possible. Telling the truth is also a large part of my recovery and I cannot stand Christian literature that glosses over the ugly truths about what goes on in the human mind. Frankly, I don’t think Jesus can stand it either. In the world today there is real suffering, real pain and real sin. If the truth about those things cannot be told, how can we ever be healed from our grief, our sin, and yes, our addictions—and we all have them—IF we are brutally honest enough to admit it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Best Worshippers

“I’m convinced that the only people worth knowing are those who’ve had at least one dark night of the soul. Now, a dark night of the soul is completely different from simply having a very bad night… Recovering addicts and alcoholics sometimes refer to this as their ‘bottom’ but it happens to almost everyone, at some point or another.  It’s that life-changing moment when everything you’ve always wanted to become, everything you actually are, and everything you know you’ll never be, all slam into each other with the deadly force of three high-speed trains. It’s the night of your reckoning, the terrifying moment when your mask falls away and you’re forced to see what’s actually been festering underneath it all these years. You finally see who you really are, instead of who you’ve always pretended to be.”
--Kristen Johnston in “Guts”

And I am also convinced that the very best worshippers are those who are in the very midst of their “dark night of the soul.” The dear friend who continues to wade through one financial setback after another, all while facing the grief of losing two family members in the past year, the single mom who faces the challenges of maintaining a godly family in a very ungodly world, the parents navigating the mine field of life and death boundary issues with their adult children who have made really bad decisions, the family who gathers around one of their own who, due to a tragic accident, is responsible for the death of another, the list could go on and on.

These folks are facing faith shaking dark nights of the soul… there are no more masks, no more pretending… hopes and dreams are dashed… the future is frightening, and yet they raise their hands and tear-stained faces to God in worship. It is truly a sacrifice of praise, and it’s the kind that’s most dear to the heart of God. Psalm 56:8 even says that God keeps a record of our tears—as if he keeps them in a bottle. They are so precious to him.

As I see people who I know are facing unthinkable life challenges reach out to God during worship, I am touched with the thought that they are the truest worshippers. Any of us can sing and dance on a good day, but those who do it during a dark night of the soul are accomplishing something truly miraculous.