There has been a lot of stuff about honesty lately. Authors writing books that encourage readers to 'speak their truth', podcast hosts celebrating individuals who have been brave enough to 'live their truth' and a movie with a hit song proclaiming, 'I'm not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.'
This tidal wave of honesty looks and feels like freedom...but is it?
Yesterday in church, the pastor began his sermon by saying, 'I'm so tired of all the masks...the pretending that everything is good when it's not.'
And there it was, the word 'pretending'.
We are pretending when we believe that the pain-free answer to the question, 'How are you?' is 'Good.' The truth is, that for every 'Good.', another plate is added to our self-made armor until we don't even know who we are anymore. When we 'speak our truth' it is often not the truth. When we 'live our truth' we are often writing our own stories that may turn out badly. When we aren't scared to be seen we are often hiding behind a different mask.
So, what is the truth?
The truth is, we are all broken beyond any repair this world can offer. Our minds, hearts, and flesh are all corrupted by sin. We are not good people. We do not think right thoughts, we do not desire right things, we do not seek to do what is right. We are all trapped in a zombie-like existence consuming things we think contain the promise of life. And, when we follow the world's advice and defiantly declare, 'This is Me!' we discover that, in time, the thrilling rush of self-love will fade and be replaced by an even greater inner turmoil.
'And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind...'
Why is it so hard to speak this truth? Because, when Jesus gently peels off each of our masks to show us who we truly are, it is quite painful. It is deeply disturbing to discover how many layers there are and how ugly and twisted and wrong we actually are beneath them. We would really rather not know and go on pretending. But it is only under the Great Physician's scalpel that true freedom can be found.
We must begin to sing a different sort of anthem:
I am not a stranger to the dark. I am broken. I am scarred. I am bruised. I am scared. I am ashamed. I am sorry. This is me.
And He will reply:
'But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved.'
And then can we sing:
I have been brought into the light. I have been healed. I have been set free. I am forgiven. This is me.
Now that feels like freedom.