America's Funniest Home Videos featured a hilarious clip of a toddler throwing a tantrum. Dear friend Sue sent me the link this week and I realized it fit perfectly into my Grumpy Old Man series.

Click here to watch the Toddler Tantrum.

If you didn't detour to watch the video I will give you a brief description of the clip (If you have finished your homework skip to the next paragraph). The clip is called "The Crying Game" and it features a toddler who is intent on getting attention. He throws himself dramatically on the ground and wails loudly. When the Mom walks calmly by and ignores him, the child picks himself up and goes looking for Mom. As soon as he rounds the corner and spots her, he throws himself dramatically on the ground and wails. Mom moves away again. Kid picks himself up and wanders off in search of her. When he spots her, yeah, you got it.

The video is hilarious. The child's rage is so phony. His actions are so transparent. He is not fooling anyone. How childish and silly. And then I realize how many of us do the same thing nearly every Sunday. The difference is that we do the reverse. When we are spotted, we quit throwing tantrums and start behaving. We are angry during the week or even on the way to church. When our church friends are not watching we are wailing about others, gossiping, and mean. As soon as we walk in the church door we are smiling like the homecoming queen during the parade. Just like that toddler, our spirituality is so phony. We are not fooling anyone. But in this case it is tragic, not hilarious.

We go to a place where honesty should be encouraged. Where shortcomings ought to be accepted. Church should be the place where you can say without fear, "I am struggling, I hurt, I need help." But for some reason the opposite happens far too often. Two people who are really in pain could have this conversation every week in church:

"How are you doing?" (Insincere query... too busy to really care)
"Great, how are you?" (Dishonest reply... perfunctory courtesy question)
"Fantastic, great to see you. (Really dishonest reply... safe dismissal salutation)

Am I advocating dumping our woes on everyone we meet? Of course not. But my fear is that we have created a culture where we feel there is something wrong with us if we are hurting. If I am struggling I must be doing something wrong spiritually. Shouldn't God meet this need? What is wrong with me? The fact that God created us with a desire to be in community tells me that part of His plan is for us to be helped by other members of the body of Christ. I have quoted the lyrics of Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns before. They fit here again. Allow me to interject between the brilliant lyrics of Casting Crowns:

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they'll soon discover
That I don't belong

How many times have I felt like that? If my walk right now was exposed I would be excommunicated from the faith. I am so dry that any spark sets my anger and emotions aflame. But do I confess that? Dare I confess that?

So I tuck it all away, like everything's okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I'll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the heart again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

And there you have it. Most of us, at one time or another, have played this stupid game. Maybe I will believe it too if I just tuck it all away.