I used to be really good at lying. I mean, I was REALLY good at it, to the point where I became a different person depending on who I was with at the time. I could easily dodge specific questions so that no one really knew anything deep about me. I was a master of manipulating situations to facilitate my needs. I was a chameleon, ever changing with my surroundings in an attempt to survive the jungle that is high school.
On my journey of recovery I was challenged to embrace a radical honesty, of sorts. It required the quitting cold turkey of my conman ways, which was way more difficult than I thought it would be! I learned very quickly that the world loves liars. Even more than the world loves liars, the church does.
We do, you know? We love being lied to. Of course, if we really examined this, we would never admit to the truth of it; but it is true. We walk into our well maintained buildings, with a smile on our face and a pleasant answer to every question of, “How are you?” All the while our families are falling apart and our boss is beating us down. We are burnt out, exhausted, and addicted with no hope of recovery. So we lie. Every Sunday, we put our mask on and grasp at holiness, shattered silhouettes dreaming of completion. And we are praised for how well we fool one another. We love the liars.
Why? Why do we love the liars? Here are 3 reasons why I think we do:
<1> Authenticity creates vulnerability.
There is never a possibility for pain if you never take off your armor. If you spend your life hiding behind a plastic version of yourself then the real you never really gets any wear and tear. We fear a broken heart so we lie. We lie to ourselves and say we don’t really care. We lie to others and tell them that we’re OK. We lie to God and tell Him we believe that He loves us. We lie because the truth is just too painful. The rest of the world is content with our lies because no one wants to be vulnerable. No one wants to face that hurt. We just push it into the darkest corner of our hearts and push a plastic plant in front of it, hoping no one will see how broken we really are.
<2> Authentic people always expose the dishonest.
This fact has become quite real to me over the past few years. In a world of masks the person who dares to take hers off will become an immediate threat to those who have grown so attached to their own. It becomes really easy to spot a counterfeit when it’s right next to something genuine. When someone stands up and shares their hurts and their struggles it becomes dangerous for those who so tightly clutch their fabricated righteousness, and their false perfection is exposed for the impossibility that it is. This is why our conversations in the church scratch the surface of our behavior while our lives fall apart behind the scenes.
<3> Authenticity is hard to control.
I loved being a conman because it gave me control. It allowed me to think I had some kind of say in how my life would be. I was made to believe for so long that God was angry with me, that he demanded impossible things from me without ever giving me the ability to even begin to accomplish those things. I decided if I couldn’t control how God saw me I could definitely control how other people saw me. And I was right, lying, manipulation, psychoanalyzing people, it all gave me some sort of control over how others saw me. None of those things changed the fact that I was still a broken soul in bondage to my own beliefs. No one could help me because I made everyone believe I was fine. We do that a lot, especially in church, pretend we are fine. Honesty is harder to reign in. It doesn’t sit quietly in a pew and take notes. It jumps up and says, “Hell, yeah!” at a great truth and dances to a powerful worship song. Honesty isn’t afraid to disagree with the pastor. Honesty is real, radical, raw, and in your face. Honesty doesn’t stay within the boundaries. That’s what makes honesty so hard to embrace, really, we fear being out of control.
It’s interesting to me how authenticity always accompanies Christ. I mean, have you read some of Jesus’s interactions with people, He was pretty direct! What about Paul? He definitely is not one to pull punches or sugar coat truth! More than that even, Christ attracted the broken, the hurt, the incomplete and didn’t ask them to be anything but what they were. He didn’t demand that they fix themselves; that’s what He was there for. Should our churches not be a place that breed authenticity? Should they not create spaces where it’s ok to be honest about struggles? Shouldn’t our goal be to help the hurting find healing?
It all begins with honesty. We must dare to be genuine, venture to authenticity, and risk taking off our masks. Be confident in who Christ has made you. Open your eyes to the truth of God’s pleasure in you and let that ignite the desire to be honest with those around you.
Dare to be out of control.