The Problem with Jesus
These last few weeks, my social media feeds have been inundated with tragic news.
Cancer. Car accidents. Heart attacks. Brain surgery. Stillbirth. Failed adoptions. Divorce.
So much sadness.
It’s reminded me that we all have a beef with Jesus. People (me included) can often be heard reciting the chorus of things like, “It’s part of God’s plan” or “Jesus, I trust in you” or “God is good, all the time.”
But I have to ask the question: Where is the authenticity?
When our youngest son was in the neonatal intensive care unit, lying on his deathbed, Jesus and I got real with each other.
Like, really real.
You did not find me spouting things like, “God will provide!” No, my true thoughts were largely unpublishable. And I think that’s the real problem. As Christians, I think we sugarcoat life too much. We forget to build our relationship with God on real feelings, real problems, real fears, real joy and real gratitude. We gloss over our stumbling blocks with trite sayings and, in the process, scare the vast majority of non-Christians away, leading them to believe that life is all kittens and rainbows with God. Or, worse, that if you just pray, read your Bible and keep reciting positive thoughts that somehow, your life will be without toil.
The same can be said of motherhood, I think. Jenny wrote an awesome piece on the hard work of working in the trenches. Just because motherhood is hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, nor does it mean that I should shy away from sharing our hard days. I mean, no need to air out all your dirty laundry, but you can’t keep it all in, either.
Bottom line? We’re all struggling. With something.
Today, it might be that Starbucks gave you a latte instead of an espresso, tomorrow it might be that your friend is diagnosed with inoperable stage four cancer. Some days the cross is heavier. And some days it’s just freaking awesome.
But gals, we have to stop this highlight reel world. Quit filtering your Instagrammed life. We have to share the realness of our lives – its joys and its shortcomings. Its happiness and its struggles. More importantly, we have to start living an authentic relationship with God.
These last few weeks Scott and I have been deep in the trenches of parenthood. It has not been fun and there have been some tears. From our kids, and from us. We joke that it took us six kids to finally realize just how much we don’t know.
This season of saying-no-to-say-yes may have been one of the most fruitful decisions we ever made as a family. In some ways it’s been like the fish bowl experiment. While the rest of the goldfish swam madly around the bowl, in search of fun, food and revelry, we sat outside the bowl and saw a whole other world. Will we dive back in? More than likely. But this time we’re diving in with authenticity. With a renewed heart. Stronger purpose. And with much more love.
It’s time to make our problem with Jesus a thing of the past.
Yes! Well said. Thank you for the reminder to keep it real.
Yes, yes, yes!!! I love the part about building your relationship with Jesus on our real feelings!! It does our secular world such an injustice to spout platitudes when we are really suffering. LOVE this! Thank you!!
It’s complicated, isn’t it? I largely shy away from social media. For me, yes, a lot of it looks all kittens and rainbows, and nary a lego is out of place. Real life is much messier, magical, and beautiful than any facebook post out there.
Yes, just yesterday my sister-in-law had brain surgery yesterday – the warm-up to her main event. And she goes in again on Thursday for another 7-9 hour surgery. Much heavier cross to bear for our family than the fact that the office printer is just not printing and I have a presentation to get to. The ebb and flow – take it all in perspective. My husband and I were just talking last night that we need to be more purposeful in our time. Draw out more kindness, dial back a bit of yelling, and live in the moment.
I really enjoyed reading your post this morning. Keep it real and authentic. It’s actually the easy way out rather than trying to filter. Thanks for this one!
Praying for your sister this eve of her surgery. Please keep me posted, okay?
Hi Kathryn – Thank you for offering up your prayers for my sister-in-law. She came through her surgery with flying colors! The surgery lasted less time than anticipated, and they confirmed that the tumor was benign. So thankful. She went home only after a couple of days, and is recovering nicely. I am truly amazed at medical science and technology, and the power of prayer.
I really needed to hear this today!
So, so true. So. True.
Right now, I am going through a very hard time…my husband has moved out and is separating from me. Blindsided and still reeling 6 months after he originally told me. After being home for 12 years, I’m now trying to find work. I’ve been looking in earnest since February. Nothing.
But I get told, “God will provide,” which is true. Or, “He won’t give you more than you can bear.” Or ______ fill in trite Christianese expression du jour. I call it the “Funeral Home Syndrome.” What I mean is this: rather than saying nothing, or “I’m so sorry,” or, “this must be so difficult for you,” or, novel thought, saying nothing and instead offering a hug, a sit and listen or cry with time, we have to have “The Right Thing To Say.” Sometimes, the truth is that “absent from the body is present with the Lord,” but a widow beside her husband’s casket doesn’t need to hear that at that moment. Sometimes, the truth is that “God will provide,” but a newly separated single mum doesn’t need to hear that right then.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross for us to offer trite sayings to one another, of that I am sure.
Thank you for this. SO NEEDED in the body of Christ. So. Needed.
Anne, a hug from me. May it give you an extra ounce if you need it at this moment.
Thank you so much. I, and the children, are doing well, but much prayer is still needed. And there are days when it just hurts and sucks, so to have an “e-hug” is so awesome.
Thanks, and may you have a blessed weekend. 🙂
Oh Anne <> I will prayer that you find a wonderful job with great benefits and co-workers who enhance your life.
PS – I hate “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” It’s not true at all and so not helpful.
THANK YOU!!! It is very hard…the 12 year Grand Canyon in my C.V. is one thing…another is, I live in Ottawa, ON, Canada, and a lot of Federal Gov’t jobs I have to be either bilingual (French/English) or have a security clearance (which you cannot apply for for yourself, your employer has to), or both…and it’s just danged discouraging.
Anne, I have been praying for you. And I mean that. I wish we could share a Dr Pepper together and I could give you a hug in person. Until then, rest in those prayers.
Thanks so much.
I feel the prayers of you and everyone carrying me along! 🙂
I don’t know if you remember this post, but a while back you posted on prayer and a conversation you had with your priest about not praying enough or right (I can’t recall exactly) and he said something to you like “you’re not a nun, don’t pray like a nun, you’re a mom, pray like a mom.” Well I loved that post. And honestly ever since that post, I say that to myself at least once a day, “pray like a mom.” Mostly it’s for things like patience or a soft heart. It doesn’t include anything like “enjoy every minute.”
My most favorite post – ever!! Those words are ones I recite to myself daily. So happy I have another mom in the trenches saying them with me.
great post! I found you from Jen Fulwiler’s podcast. Find myself saying “yes, yes” while reading this….I have a hard time sharing my troubles….I don’t want to bring people down or be seen as a complainer, but I think I end up sort of stoic….I have a child with a disability, and I don’t complain about how she is not potty trained or her medical issues because I don’t think people will relate. It is a fine line though because it is helpful to “keep it together” at times. I remember when we were in the hospital once, I was upset because the nurses aid had hand washed my daughter’s dress that I wanted to wash myself. I wasn’t rude and didn’t complain to the aide, my family could just see it – my sister in law told me ” don’t sweat the small stuff”, but sometimes I have to sweat the small stuff otherwise I would be overwhelmed by the big stuff!
So glad you landed here. And, I think you’re right on about that fine line. Nobody wants to be around an oversharer! But, we have to stop sugarcoating the reality of our lives, and pretending that the reality of those around us doesn’t matter or shouldn’t be talked about. It’s totally easier to sweat the small stuff than the big! I’m so glad you’re here…
Wise words. My blog post for today is about some unflattering things I learned about myself when I gave up Facebook for Lent. But it’s somewhat tongue in cheek. In reality I learned some fairly ugly things about myself that I did not share. To be fair, my mother told me not to (leave it to a mom not to want her baby to look bad). Anyway, this is an excellent reminder for me – not necessarily about my blog but about my need to be more open with others about what’s really going on with me. Thanks!
You’re so right. I believe we can’t be really joyful and grateful, if we haven’t acutely felt the depth of despair and misery that life brings us at certain moments. There is way more joy in crying your heart out and allowing yourself to be picked up afterwards than it pretending nothing is wrong and we’re all living in fairyland.
Yes – a thousand times yes! My favorite part: “But gals, we have to stop this highlight reel world. Quit filtering your Instagrammed life. We have to share the realness of our lives – its joys and its shortcomings. Its happiness and its struggles. More importantly, we have to start living an authentic relationship with God.” Absolutely. Social media is all about the highlight reel, and not real. Thank you for sharing this.
Sing it sister! You are so right-on!
AMEN. Preach it from the rooftops. I have been guilty of the “Jesus I Trust in You”s recently, just because I simply can’t comprehend what all has happened in my life since oh, mid-Lent. And it just keeps on a-coming. The platitudes are rolling in and are probably the LEAST helpful thing for me to be hearing right now.
I stumbled across your blog today reading tips from Blog Clarity. I am glad that I found it. This post is so real. I think only showing the good not only deceives others but also yourself, and your children. I remember when I was younger, I struggled a lot with going to church and such and when a lot of bad things happened, like my dad passing away, losing a child, and other things, I just couldn’t deal with all the “God has a plan and a reason for everything”. Yes, it may be true, but when your child / parent dies, that’s the last thing you want to hear. It felt like people were lying to me and being fake. It’s been 11 years now, and I have come to terms with these things that happened. I wish that someone had told me exactly what you’ve said in this post. Thank you.
I have no idea how I missed this beautiful comment, Kayla! You sound like a strong woman of faith, one who has weathered heartache. How wonderful to hear you’ve made peace with those crosses and found joy again. God bless you!