My husband and I enjoy watching NCIS on Netflix. We find it especially amusing when Gibbs, the main character, gives one of his obstreperous underlings (usually Anthony DiNozzo) the occasional head slap as a wake up call to get back on task or cease childish behavior. The head slaps aren’t hard enough to hurt—and they’re always on the back of the head because a slap to the face would cause embarrassment.
This morning, I received a heavenly head slap whilst reading Matthew 5:14-16 in the Message. First of all, God got my attention with the first part of the passage:
“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”
I hate reading hard truths in the Bible—frankly, most days I don’t feel like a light on a hill that brings out the God-colors. I like living in my own cozy little corner doing my own comfy thing and avoiding too much interaction with other people.
It took me a long time to learn about healthy boundaries and quit trying to act like Super Mom (or Super Woman, for that matter). But like a pendulum, I may have swung too far in the opposite direction. Or maybe I have realized that my need to do everything simply covered up a deeper fear of letting anyone know the real me.God doesn't call us to be Super Christians, He calls us to be Sharing Christians. Click To Tweet
The heavenly head slap came in the last part of the passage:
“Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
I have no problems with home hospitality, but I realized that I struggle with life hospitality—being generous with my life by opening myself up to others so that my transparency would free others to experience my safe harbor—a gracious Father in heaven.
Let me explain. We pray a lot in my business (I teach at a Christian school), but I often find it hard to ask for prayer. When Pedro had cancer, I could easily ask for prayer because, well, cancer. Everyone gets that and understands the power of prayer.
But last year when our daughter struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts and crazy behavior, I never once asked for prayer at staff meeting. I had myriad reasons. Sarah volunteered on campus (although she didn’t attend staff meetings), so it seemed like an invasion of her privacy. I worried that I would burst into tears and be unable to return to class and teach. I worried that people would judge our parenting (even though Sarah was no longer a child—and based on her outbursts on social media we had obviously failed at the parenting game). I worried that people just wouldn’t understand (maybe because I had failed to extend grace and understanding to other parents throughout the years when I saw their children acting odd).
Sure, I shared some of our struggles with distant, discreet prayer warriors, but I kept my stoic mask on at all times in my immediate surroundings. This past October Sarah and I wrote about her experiences. The writing and consulting and comments from readers acted as a catharsis to help me process all that we had been through. It felt good to confess to the world that we had struggled. The private replies from people who had found themselves on the same road that we had traveled validated the baring of our souls.
But in my everyday-not-blog-life I continued to keep my feelings and struggles to myself—unwilling to share with those who see me every day. And so God slapped me gently on the back of the head.
That part about opening up with others so that others can open up with God? I suddenly see what Paul means. If we share our foibles and fears with those with whom we do life—whether it’s colleagues, family or friends—they will understand that God exudes grace because they see that our relationship with Him doesn’t diminish when we mess up.
When I sin and ask forgiveness and mercy from my God and confess to my fellow travelers—they understand that Christianity doesn’t require perfectionism, it requires relationship. When I share my burdens with fellow travelers and ask for prayer, they realize that only God can act as the Super Hero.#Christianity doesn't require #perfectionism, it requires relationship. Click To Tweet
I see myself as more of an onion on a hilltop with a carved out core where a candle shines. Those heavenly head-slaps knock away the layers one at a time. One day, I will shine the way God intended. Until then, I thank Him for reminding me I have a purpose in life.
What about you? Have you ever received a heavenly head slap?