September 30, 2009

Tell Me More & Me Too

Tell me more. One of the presenters at the Centerpeace Conference that has been working with support/recovery groups at his church for years gave us those 3 words. If someone is sharing a struggle of whatever kind, "tell me more," is a way we can support them, allow them to share, and not be filling them with empty words that are SO tempting to utter. I'm a fixer. I have always been a fixer. One of the places in my life I have had to give over to the Lord. It's o.k. to be a fixer on some levels, household items that break, they need to be fixed, but when it comes to people, I can't fix them even if I have the best intentions. I had to learn this "not fixing" mindset when I had kids. Natural consequences are important for them to experience. They will never mature into teens and then adults with their own thought processes if I am "attempting" to fix all their stuff for them.

God has taught me oceans of information through my own rebellion to Him. What helped me find Him? Love from his people, consistent prayer from my grandparents, and most of all the Holy Spirit. What can we do to help others who are struggling? We can journey along beside with agape love, allowing them to be authentic and truthful without judgement on our part, loving and praying for them.

Another class I went to talked about the "me too." My struggles might not be the same as the people God will bring into my life, but confession is the great equalizer. Take an opportunity to confess what is going on in your life with those you are journeying along with so they know that you are not perfect, that you are not holier than thou, that you are safe and welcoming to them. For those of us who have made mistakes in our lives it might almost be impossible to open up and be vulnerable to someone who appears to have never made a mistake.

The day I opened up with my testimony to my church years ago was the very day I started to know people's hearts that were around me. I always knew them in a pass in the hall kind of way, but never knew their hearts. That day I became a safe friend to have. This is exactly what I spoke about at the retreat a couple of weeks ago. Freedom from the mask, was the title. In my talk I read a story about a girl named Rachel who was a ministry leader, had been given gifts from the Lord to serve her church family, but always felt lonely. She had plenty of people around her but she was lonely. After talking to her pastor she came to realize that she presented the "I have it all together facade" and no one felt comfortable being authentic around her. She confessed that in her church and before she knew it she had real relationships for the first time.

I think we have to see that Satan wants to keep us afraid of what people will think when they become an authentic individual. I know that is what kept me in my jail cell of fakeness for so long. I was so afraid people would turn away from me. Isn't it funny how even in our adult years we allow what others think of us drive our actions? During the Centerpeace Conference I was able to watch silently as parents shared their fears about what their church family would think of them if they knew their child was living a h*m*s*xual lifestyle. These parents were suffering in silence, afraid to even tell their small groups. With tears in their eyes and streaming down their faces they shared that they were afraid to tell their friends. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to live like that? We have failed the people around us if we don't make it a safe place for them, a soft place for them to fall. Satan is stealing from us the gift of community if we allow him dominion in this area over our lives, and he is keeping us from the full blessings of of God just waiting for us to be truthful with the people around us. When God chased me down and allowed me no rest when the opportunity came for me to share my testimony publicly I chose to honor where God was leading, all the while believing the lies that I was giving everything up to be faithful to God. I thought I wouldn't have a friend left once they knew I had abused drugs/alcohol/my temple. I took that step of faith, and then the lie was dissolved, because as I said earlier, that was the day my relationships started becoming real and authentic. I had believed the lie and it kept me miserable for years until that day. I also want to say that there are some people who probably did walk away from me at that point, but that is o.k., God has a work to do there. I wanted to follow God more than I wanted to hold onto the facade.

Tell me more, and me too. 5 very important words to be a blessing to those around you.


Leah said...

Tammy your words really resonate with me. The more authentic and transparent I become the more ministry I can accomplish. I know I don't want to talk to someone who "cant" understand....