Our local radio station is having a “positive speaking” challenge where listeners are encouraged to guard their tongues in order to make sure that every word spoken is edifying to others. This means no complaining, no venting, no unloading on your husband the minute he walks through the door…but does it also mean no sharing, no transparency, no allowing others past our plastic smiles and carefully rehearsed, “I’m doing well, and you?”
Now don’t get me wrong, Ephesians 4:29 (Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only that which is helpful for building others up that it may benefit those who listen.) is one of my favorite verses. And Philippians 2:14 (Do everything without complaining or arguing) is another one that frequently graces my sticky notes. And I understand and totally agree with the premise of this challenge. Most of what we say could easily go unsaid and we need to be very careful with our word choices.
But I think we have to be equally careful that we don’t go too far. We are joined in a body for a reason. The Bible also tells us to bear one another’s burdens and to encourage one another. It took almost ten years for my husband to get to a place where he felt comfortable sharing his deepest struggles, pains and fears with me, and whew, was I ever so grateful when he did! By understanding how he is feeling and what he is dealing with, I am better able to minister to him. If I know he’s had a tough day, I won’t take it personal when he hides behind a remote control. And perhaps I’ll even find a way to bless him. (BTW, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies do wonders!) And even more important, it allows me to see deeper into his heart.
If you’ve read the intro to my White Picket Fence series, you know how frustrated I get with the whole “religious façade” we often portray. Somehow we think Christianity is all about being perfect. Wow, do we have it wrong! Christianity is all about admitting we’re not perfect and allowing ourselves to fall into grace. Grace is unmerited favor. It is the healing, love, and acceptance we experience because of what Christ did for us. But how can we experience healing if we’re hiding behind thick, brick walls? And how can we experience true fellowship, the fellowship God intends, if we’re not real with each other?
In my latest novel, Impossible Choices, Alice has Ephesians 4:29 mastered. She’s not doing to bad with Philippians 2:14, either. Ephesians 4:25 is another matter. (Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.) Her entire life is a false hood. She is trying so hard to live up to this ideal of what a good Christian mother and wife should be, she has shut out the very people who could help her most. And we need to be careful we don’t do the same. It’s time we get real with one another, sharing our deepest struggles, so that we truly can carry one another’s burdens. Because let me tell you, if we keep trying to lug them ourselves, it won’t belong before we crumble.