Recently, I heard a compelling story that I have not been able to forget. The story is of a pastor who was visiting a rehab center for men with sexual addictions. One of the residents was sharing his personal story and throughout his talk other men would randomly raise their hands. When the speaker was finished, the director of the center, noticing the pastor seemed troubled, asked him what was wrong. The pastor asked why the men kept raising their hands while the speaker was sharing, as if they wanted to ask a question. The director replied that at the center there was one rule and it was that no one struggled alone. So each time the speaker’s story mirrored the listener’s story they would raise a hand as if to say, “I know brother, I too struggle in the same way.”
So why does this speak to me? Because the way I grew up and the church culture I am from it was more about pretending to be good and striving to be better than admitting that we sin and we struggle. Instead of raising our hands we more often tried to help another come up to where we were because we thought we were in good shape, good people who were fine. So pretending and posturing became standard operating procedure. I believed my actions for Jesus were good and He probably liked having me on His team! But what I am gratefully learning is that I don’t have to do anything for Jesus. He has done EVERYTHING for me. I can admit freely who I am and what I struggle with.
As a Southern, Christian woman and, on a side note, a preacher’s kid and have been a preacher’s wife, I all too well know and understand the church from the inside/out. I’ve worked very hard to perfect, perform, and pretend to be a good Christian. Guess what? I’m not and neither are you. Can we breathe a sigh of relief or maybe you are just a little ticked off that I said that. I know this to be true of myself because when I thought I was good, I didn’t really need Jesus. I was too focused on me getting better and what I could do for Him. And to translate that even further, I wanted those around me to get better too. Imagine living with me, not fun.
In my struggle with my sin, with my fears, with my demands, with my control, with my need to be right, with my lack of grace, all of my messiness….this is the very place Jesus is meeting me. In recent months, God is showing me more and more that I am a SINNER, and He came for sinners, all of us. At the foot of the cross, we all stand on level ground, all the same, all needy, all desperate, no matter what we have done or will do. Because I have called on Him and believe on Him, He is with me to help me.
Will we raise our hands with the controlling, manipulative wife, or the parent who needs their kids to make them look good, or to anger at people who don’t think like we do, or acting superior, or hating another, or a million other ways? Whatever we try to do to manage our lives apart from trust in Christ is never going to work, never going to satisfy us. We were made for Someone greater.
Will we raise our hand and admit who we are, a sinner? Will we raise our hands in praise to the God of the universe who loves, forgives, accepts and wants us? Will we raise our hands because we know we struggle alongside one another and are in desperate need of His rescue every single day? Will we be real and ask for help and be one who doesn’t let our brother or sister ever struggle alone? Jesus, help us, for we need your sufficient grace to know that in our weakness, You are Strong.