Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Blemished In A Photoshopped World

              I have a recent family photo on my desk.We had it taken by a local photographer when all the kids were home.  It looks great and I am a blessed man to have this wonderful family.

            But there are a few things missing from the picture.  The blemish that was on one of my children’s faces, gone!  The out-of-place hair on another child and the lines that have begun to appear on my face around my eyes, gone!  Oh the wonders of Photoshop and what a skilled photographer can do to make us look better than we did on the day of our portrait session. I suppose she could have even put some additional hair on my head so my receding hairline wasn’t so pronounced, but I had to look somewhat like I look in real life.

            While it is great to have a few minor defects Photoshopped out of a family portrait, I’m afraid that many of us who follow Jesus Christ too often portray a life to others that is a little too perfect, a little to all-together and full of faith and confidence in God.  It’s not our real life.  It’s our edited, air-brushed, Photoshopped life.

I have actually had people say to me that if the people in church really knew what they were like, they knew that they would be rejected and nobody would want them around.  So week after week they project an image of themselves to others that they hope won’t get rejected.  The problem with that is, you can’t really move forward to find help, healing and wholeness if you only let people see an image of the real you.

            We have become very good at hiding our blemishes, our pain, our problems, and the hidden parts of our lives where we wrestle with our private “demons”.  Too many of us only allow people to see our Photoshopped lives.  We smile and say, “Praise the Lord.  God has been so good to me”, while on the inside we are hurting so bad we could hardly get ourselves in the church door.  The depression, the alcohol abuse, the pressures of parenting or caring for an aging loved one, the thoughts of suicide, the sexual brokenness are never shown, not talked about.  We wouldn’t dare let the people at church see that!

We come to church in pain and often leave without one small touch of grace to our hurts.  We know God sees our deep dark inside and we pray for His help and touch, and He does respond.  I’m absolutely confident that He does.  But the help that we need, the help that God wants us to receive usually comes from others.  It comes about when we allow people to see our imperfect lives and allow them to help us walk through our messes and hurts.

            My desire, and I hope your desire, is that we leave our Photoshopped lives at the door when we walk into our church.  No one’s life is perfect; we all have blemishes, pains, problems, and private “demons”.  I do.  I would hope the safest place to bring them out into the open is the church. 

            Yes it’s a risk, but there is great reward when we find that others care and understand and are willing to journey with us.  James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”  Let me paraphrase this verse, “Expose your blemishes, pains, problems, and private ‘demons’ to one another and pray for each other so that you may be able to walk into healing and wholeness.”
            I still love my Photoshopped family portrait.  I’m glad the blemishes, stray hairs and wrinkles are gone.  But let’s leave our nicely edited, air-brushed, Photoshopped lives outside of the door of our churches so we can move toward real healing.