A few years ago I went to a New York Mets game and met my friend Aaron Nowell. Since that game, Aaron has gone through a very difficult time, but with Christ, has made it to the other side.
Below is Aaron’s powerful story.
Christians are supposed to have everything figured out. Why wouldn’t they? They have an all powerful, all knowing God in their corner. They have the greatest rule book ever written, the Bible, as their guide. Not to mention, they have a place where they can meet every Sunday with other Christians who have it all figured out as well. Church — the place where Christians who have it all figured out. The place where they get together and listen to the pastor who has all the answers to any question they could possibly have (but they don’t usually have questions, since they already have it all figured out). With all this support, how could Christians possibly have anything not figured out?
I didn’t buy this lie the moment I accepted Jesus as a third grader in Mrs. Duncan’s class, but rather, I gradually embraced it as I grew into a young adult in the church. The lie wasn’t sold to me point blank by Christians I was around because they never said that I had to have everything figured out. They just acted like I did. For the most part, every Christian I have come in contact with, answers the questions, “How are you?” and “How was your week?” with a nonchalant, “Good.”
But when you dig deeper, you realize they aren’t “Good.” Why would we do an about-face on our meaningless social norms and answer honestly with, “I have crippling depression,” “I hate myself and have been thinking about suicide,” “I watch porn 7 days a week.”
If every Christian in your church quotes scripture but never questions it, why would you voice the questions you have? If the Christians around only ask for general prayer like, “Can you guys just keep me in prayer?” why would you ask for specific prayer like, “Can you pray for my marriage?” “Can you pray for my family as we are struggling financially?” “I’ve been struggling with lustful thoughts, can you pray for me?” If Christianity is pretending to have everything figured out, why would any Christian not do the same?
I decided to go with the crowd so, I too, pretended to have it all figured out. If someone at church asked me how I was or how my week was, guess what I said?
If there was a verse I didn’t understand or a biblical concept I struggled to see as absolute, would I tell anyone? Nope! I definitely wasn’t going to be open when asking for prayer; I would say something general or just not ask for prayer altogether.
Rarely was I, or my week, nearly as “good” as I frequently suggested. Between the social anxiety that I was struggling to cope with, the porn I had been addicted to since high school, and the self hate I had for myself, it was hard to have a week that resembled anything close to good.
I had a hard time accepting the Bible’s stance on drinking and began to excuse my increasingly heavy drinking with one compromise after another. “Buzzed isn’t drunk and the Bible really means don’t get blackout drunk” soon turned into “as long as you are just being silly drunk, that’s ok.” I always was in need of prayer but being real about my prayer needs would mean everyone would know I didn’t have it all figured out.
As I continued pretending, my anxiety grew to levels I could no longer control. Alcohol became my medication. Before long, I was drinking just to survive social situations.
One of the social situations was a birthday party. For my fiancé. You’d think I’d be on my best behavior for the woman I wanted to marry.
I got wasted.
And then I drove home.
And then I crashed into a lamp pole which toppled on my car.
I was almost killed.
Christians all over the world are withering from a lethal disease. It’s a deadly disease named, “pretending”. As Christians continue pretending to have it all together, they are dying from the inside out from depression, oppression, addiction, fear, and anxiety. The good news is that there is a cure guaranteed to heal any Christian sick from pretending — honesty.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
If I had been honest with my family, anyone in my Church, or any of my Christian friends I wouldn’t have driven into that pole. Not because my life would magically become easy. Not because I would no longer have struggles. Not because I would no longer face difficult trials. But, because talking about my struggles and problems would have allowed me to experience the healing power that only comes from honesty.
Confessing your sins and admitting you don’t have it all together, doesn’t come with God’s rejection. Quite the opposite. It comes with God’s healing. It’s time for us to take off our masks and put on our healing.