Keeping it Real
“For so long I thought I had to have it all together.” Dave Dravecky, former pitcher for the Giants who lost an arm and shoulder to cancer, spoke at Twin Lakes Church this weekend. “After all, Christians don’t get depressed and discouraged. I wore a mask.” While that’s not an exact quote, that’s the message I heard.
I too used to wear a mask. As a college student, I thought it was my job to be “God’s happiest person.” My older brothers kept telling me to quit smiling at strangers, that it wasn’t safe. Admittedly, I was more than a little naive.
But sometimes, like Dravecky and me, we get the message confused. We think that as Jesus followers we’re supposed to act, look, speak a certain way. That we need to show others’ God’s love and grace through our strength.
But we’ve gotten it all wrong. Jesus said “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Dravecky said his eyes were opened when he read a piece by Joni Earickson Tada, who became a quadriplegic at age 17. She said her diving accident and resultant paralysis were not a blessing. “It sucks.” BUT God has brought good from it as she has shared the hope she found in Christ through the pain and loss of that event.
Dave said the same. “Cancer sucks. Losing an arm and shoulder sucks.” And he’s become more authentic in sharing God’s presence on the journey, despite its difficulties and challenges.
That’s been significant in my life too. There have been events that have been agony–leaving a ministry that had been my home, being misunderstood and judged; and losing a husband to death.
Dravecky said we all have good, bad and ugly in us. Certainly true in me. It is as I keep it real and share, not only the struggles but God’s presence, forgiveness and grace in and through them, that others can hear God’s strength rather than being blinded by my mask. And as I am open about some of the pain, challenges, and failures of my life, that others are more open to telling me their burdens. As I listen to their pain, I can also express where I have found hope–not hope for ease, but hope that in all things, God has promised to walk with me, never to leave me or forsake me, and that He has a plan for my life “for good, and not for evil, to give you (me) hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Proverbs 28:13 says “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (NIV)
What masks do you need to remove in order to gain freedom? It’s “Reveal time.”