Today’s Twitter post was: “We would be so much better off if folks would just go ahead and admit we don’t always have it all together. Some days are better than others. Some aren’t. This too shall pass.”I wrote that because some people just can’t seem to admit their mistakes, defects, and weaknesses. It’s like they live on a pedestal above the rest of us. What they show is an exaggerated view of their competence. Some may be true narcissists, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme. And if they have power, woe be unto those who confront them.
On the other hand, some people with low self-esteem over-compensate for normal deficiencies. As a result, they tend to be our over-achievers. They, too, have difficulty confessing their faults and failings.None of us are angels. In Christian circles, it may be hard to be real, since we’re supposed to be “living in victory” daily. We don’t want to kneel at the altar because the congregation might think, “Ooh, what have they done now?” So we put on our church face and feel like a failure if we’re struggling with the same stuff everyone else is dealing with. We just don’t know it, since believers are afraid it might ruin their testimony.
The truth is, there is freedom in honesty and power in confession. Within a trusted community, these acknowledgments can bring about healing. A group of people “speaking the truth in love” may be rare but infinitely valuable. Healthy self-esteem can grow in that kind of environment. The process of sanctification depends on it.
I’m afraid none of us are objective enough or wise enough to do this on our own. Yes, we can find insight in some self-help books and certainly from the Scriptures. Yes, we can journal regularly to externalize that internal mess. Yes, we can share with an individual, like a spouse, best friend, pastor, or therapist. Yes, we can pray for help from the God who created us. But sometimes we need more. A different kind of intervention can come from belonging to a group with wellness as a goal. Don’t underestimate the influence of group feedback. It may be an answer to prayer.
We can’t open up like that with just anybody. Social media usually isn’t the place to regurgitate our inner garbage. Unfortunately, churches aren’t always the place to find a welcome for this kind of honesty. Discerning where, when, and with whom to share is difficult. Sometimes we get hurt in the process. Trust takes time. It’s trial and error.
Pray about it. Let the Lord lead you to those who can serve as agents for positive change. When people are on the same journey, they can be more accepting of each other’s flaws. But they can also recognize when we are avoiding, minimizing, or denying. So they keep us from climbing back up on the pedestal.
Some possible places to find this community are Twelve Step groups, churches, and therapy groups. Disclaimer here: not all groups are created equal! Don’t give up if you run into some duds.
The really good part of this is when we start to experience growth, we share that too. And the group may see it before you do.
So, I wasn’t trying to criticize those who never want to admit their weaknesses. They may be more fragile than we realize and need that hard shell for protection. They have a reputation to defend and an image to hide behind. That takes a lot of needless energy.
I want to point out that we’re all in the same boat. We suffer from the fallen human condition. Perfection is a demanding standard. Whether others have placed you up on a pedestal or whether you’ve climbed up there yourself, it feels so good to jump down and live among the rabble.
God loves us as we are, but He doesn’t want us to stay that way. As we become increasingly conformed to the image of Jesus, He lifts us up, and we will stand out, as distinctive, among the crowd.