This past week a couple of friends told me after the fact that they had just come through a really tough period. My response was the same to both of them.
"You have got to let me know when you are going through these times so I can pray and be your friend."
Later I made the mistake of sharing my frustration with my beloved bride. I told her how my friends had journeyed through their valleys alone. Why didn't they call me? Why wouldn't they let me in? Joni did her normal thing. She listened and then asked me an annoying question.
"Would you let them know if you were struggling?"
One other thing I have learned this week is that sputtering is not a strong defense. But she had cut to the hard truth. I probably would not. And that is a sad state of affairs for all followers of Christ and it seems to be even a bigger problem among men.
If weakness is a wound that no one wants to speak of
Then "cool" is just how far we have to fall
I am not immune, I only want to be loved
But I feel safe behind the firewall
And there I am. Weakness is not a trait that most men enjoy admitting. So I settle in behind the firewall of perceived safety. But it is not really safe there. It is only familiar. The song expresses where I want myself (and my friends) to get to on a more consistent basis.
Can I lose my need impress?
If you want the truth I need to confess
I'm not alright, I'm broken inside
And all I go through, it leads me to you
I'm not alright. I need Jesus every moment. My brokenness leads me to God. But it should also lead me to other believers with the truth about me. I'm not alright! I need (yes, I need) to have other followers of Christ that I can trust with me and all that is true about me. Why is my need to impress stronger than my need for honest relationships? Why is it so hard to express that we need one another? I rationalize that I don't want to "bother" my friends. Seriously? If my spiritual, emotional and relational needs "bother" my friend then I might need to re-categorize them to either acquaintance or carbon based life form that I have met. Friends are not bothered when the ones they care about express need. Satan tells you otherwise. You are such a mess you don't deserve a friend. They don't care what you are going through. They are too busy with their own problems. Lie. Lie. And lie. What a surprise that the author of lies has a million of them.
Friends always have time for a friend. That is why they call each other friend. So the next time I am down and troubled and I need a helping hand I am going to call James Taylor or one of the guys I referenced earlier. I want to play by the same rules I asked them to play by. Let them be my friend. I know they will be there for me. The lyrics continue.
Burn away the pride
Bring me to my weakness
Until everything I hide behind is gone
Isn't that ultimately the source of the problem when you trace your steps back to the source? It is pride. And the easiest thing to do is hide from your need and talk about football and huntin'. The last line of the lyric contains a truth that is hard to confess.
Honestly, I'm not that strong.
I may be able to do a lot of stuff in my strength and giftedness. But I need to be able to trust God and others with the truth about me if I am going to mature spiritually. And isn't that exactly what Jesus was saying to the religious leaders in the Gospel of Matthew?
"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too." (Matthew 23, NLT)
My friend Bruce McNicol has a great line with many variations.
"There are no together people. Only people…
- with whiter teeth.
- who dress better.
- with better hair.
- with fancier cars.
You get the point. We are all needy. All of us. Why not admit that to a trusted friend? In the novel Bo's Café there is this wonderful thought.
Imagine a place where the worst of you could be known and yet you would discover that you were loved more, not less.
There is a room of grace where that is possible. The starting point is to drop the pretense and trust others with the truth about me. I'm not alright. I need you Lord Jesus. And I need you my friend.