Help Me Down From This Pedestal, Would You?
By Janel Breitenstein
Hoping it’s not obvious—but I’m a firstborn. In some of the classic respects (people-pleasing, obedient, achieving), but not others (bossiness, of course. Now listen up!).
The phrase “be a good example” ricochets through childhood memories. Maybe my wandering, wayward siblings needed my knowledgeable guidance. Or maybe my firstborn-ness sucked it up like a straw.
Fine with me. I was good at looking like the ideal.
It does, however, have its drawbacks.
It took an eternity to realize I was primed for a heart strikingly like a Pharisee’s: Doing all the right things, confident God was happy to have me on His team.
Rather than inward reality blossoming outward, I tended to have that flip-flopped. Example first, heart-work later. Probably.
I was busy smartening up the outside in lieu of cleaning up the inside—a trait Jesus loathed (Matthew 23:25).
Or I was loving myself more than loving those for whom I was “modeling” (just as runway-ish as it sounds).
You could feel this way in marriage: that yours should be on a catwalk. The flat-abs marriage with the adoring wife, the strong husband, the peaceful home with 2.5 children.
Yet “No one told me that when I wear a mask, only my mask receives love.”*
The problems with “modeling” marriages are pretty similar to us wayward firstborns: Look good now. Worry about the reality later. Much later.
God sets a “naked and unashamed” ideal of marriage (Genesis 2:25). If community is in concentric circles, with marriage one of those most intimate circles in the center—isn’t there an element of relationships that longs to be makeup-free, naked-hearted, just-as-I-am … and finally unashamed?
Whether within your marriage or as you portray it to outsiders: Lay down the mask, the need to perform to be worthy.
Jesus has already been 100% worthy on your behalf.
The good stuff: For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
- In what ways do you find yourself performing for your spouse—or your marriage performing for your community?
- How does this undermine an honest, soul-baring, humble relationship with your spouse, and with Jesus?
- What’s one way you will intentionally seek vulnerability in these contexts this week?
*Lynch, John; Bruce McNicol; and Bill Thrall. The Cure: What if God isn't who you think He is and neither are you? Trueface (2016).
Visit the FamilyLife® Website