I own a minivan. BOOM. And I am a male under thirty, with long(ish) hair. Now that I’ve blown your mind with that scandalous set of facts, let me to tell you more. It was not an easy journey to this current reality. I fought hard against it, but eventually, 3 small kids and the ability to move my twins much farther away from my ears on a long drive made the decision well worth it. But the van itself was really what sealed the deal. It may be a used 2002 Town and Country, but it’s loaded.
Bells, yep. Whistles, you bet. It has heated seats. Need I say more? I will. The tailgate goes up and down with the push of a button. As far as my vehicular experience is concerned, this is like space technology. I stand in awe of automatic anything.
But lately all is not well in our future soccer mom transportation station. It has to do with the power locks. The van is supposed to have this smart system that knows when to engage the locks to keep everyone safe, like when the van is flying down the highway. The problem is, somewhere along the way, something went wrong in control panel.
And now, our van is lock-happy.
It locks when we close all the doors.
It locks when I open a door.
It locks 2 seconds after I unlock it.
It locks again, right after it locks. chk. chk. chk, chk, chk. It makes me want to punch myself.
But worst of all….
It locks when I walk past it.
Seriously. I don’t even touch the stupid thing.
Somehow it has this sense that whenever someone is near, within about 2 feet, it needs to lock itself up. I’m not lying. Come on over and just try to get inside that thing. Even with the key, I’ve got to act like a ninja to get in the driver’s side door.
Something is not right with my van. I knew we should have bought a Sienna. We’d be so cool.
But something is not right with me, either. Actually, lots of things.
At our last LifePath gathering on Sunday night, we spent the evening reflecting on the importance of authenticity, the importance of being willing to admit our brokenness. That when we can finally own up to the crap in our lives, when we allow others to see and hear that we’re messed up (not like anyone was fooling anyone anyways…), that’s when God can finally bring change and transformation, in us, and in others.
This sounds all well and good. And, I honestly believe that’s how we are designed to live. With complete honesty and openness, not trying to give a false appearance of perfection to impress people or protect ourselves. And it sounds kind of exciting…. until there’s actually an opportunity to let someone in. That’s when the locks come on. That’s when we close up, trying to protect ourselves from other people’s judgement or the appearance of weakness. Even when we’re dying inside or our families are falling apart or our marriage is one step short of disintegrating or we have no idea how to raise our kids or deal with that loss or move forward in life or find HOPE at all……. but we don’t want to appear weak, because everyone else has it together. So down go the locks. It’s motivated by fear. Bethany says we have a very fearful van.
Don’t let anyone in and you won’t get hurt.
That’s true, you know.
But it sucks as a life motto.
Because if it’s impossible to get hurt, to feel pain, it becomes impossible to feel anything. Including love.
Love is vulnerability. Love is brokenness. Love is trust.
And if fear is the motivator for all of this auto-locking, there is no love. Because love casts out fear.
So, with the people we lead and in our lives with those around us, we’re seeking to create places of openness, where we can share tough moments in our lives, where we are in community with people who we are learning to love and trust. We want to allow them to share in our burdens and struggles, to encourage us in our failures, and to celebrate with us in the victories. And we want to to share in theirs. Because that’s what love does.
Personally, as a pastor and spiritual leader, it would feel awesome to have people think the world of me all the time. It would feed my ego greatly. Most of the time I want to be the wise one, the one with the life worth modeling. I’d rather not talk about my own faults, or openly admit how often I screw up in so many areas of my life. But I need to.
Because it’s true.
And it breaks down the walls for other people to do the same. We’re working hard at LifePath to reprogram the stupid auto locks in our hearts and souls. And all of a sudden without even realizing it, we can finally experience real community.
Please, my plea to you (and to myself), is to stop saying, “I’m fine” all the time if you’re not! Because nobody’s fine all the time.
And we can’t experience love until we let other people into our inner lives. We can’t experience love unless we’re vulnerable enough to experience pain. It’s scary though.
But there’s another reason why coming to grips with my own inabilities and struggles is important. Honestly, it’s the biggest reason that I want to be a person who openly acknowledges my need for help:
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
Jesus said that.
He was referring to himself as the doctor. Mentioning that it wasn’t the people who “have it all together” that he came to bring hope to, but the ones who were aware that they were in need (he went on to specifically state that he wasn’t interested in self-righteous people).
Really, those who offer the appearance of perfection have absolutely no need for a God of redemption. After all, there’s nothing to redeem in someone who’s got it all together. And there were people who thought they had it all together. Mostly religious people. Jesus wasn’t impressed. Because in working to have it all together, they had lost their ability to love. They had convinced themselves that had this life figured out (and the next). I don’t. I try, but I need lots of help. I fail at loving people as well as I want to. I fail at being as patient with others as God is with me. I fail a lot, but I want to finish up this blog and so I’ll stop there. And Jesus invites me to simply admit my own brokenness, my own needs, and allow him to lead me in a path of full life. I’m down with that.
I’m convinced I’ve fixed this auto lock problem on the minivan at least 3 times. Until I walk past it. Crap. Locked again. And I’m reminded, that this might be an ongoing journey of learning to unlock….
I’ve forgotten if I’m talking about myself or the van.