Thursday, January 10, 2008

Foil or Plastic Wrap?

I’ve chosen to live my life somewhat transparently. I could have buried my head deep under a blanket and kept myself safely wrapped in the warmth of my own bed. Okay, I did do that on occasion and you know what I found? I discovered that my bed doesn’t judge me, jump to conclusions about me, make false assumptions about me, or call me names. Yep, staying buried in the safety and warmth of my own bed might have been the better choice. However, I chose to be transparent.

I was hoping (still hope) that my story would give hope to others. “She lived through those things, maybe I can to.” Those are the kinds of things I would hope someone might say about me. However, living somewhat transparently means opening oneself up to the judgments and accusations of those who haven’t walked in your shoes.

A couple of months ago one of the pastors at our church made a brave and truthful statement. He said, “When I was young I was not a very nice person. I made a lot of mistakes. In fact, the only thing that separates me from men in prison is the fact that I was never caught.” Now, that’s transparency for ya. And that statement isn’t just true about him. It’s true about MANY of us! Another pastor in our church has been honest about the fact that his son is serving a seven-year sentence in Federal Prison. That young prison inmate has written a book about his decisions and he tells what it means to be the prodigal son.

When my kids were struggling with drugs I prayed they’d get caught. Why? Well, the alternative to getting caught is most often death. Getting caught might mean having to pay dearly for one’s choices, but at least with getting caught there is still life – and thus there is hope. I have a friend whose son will be sentenced for his crimes next week. Because her son was caught before he died, my friend has had the opportunity to reconnect with him, see him get baptized in jail, and enjoy the fact that her family is once again whole. I have another friend who for several years lived in fear that not just one, but all four of her children could die from their addictions to meth and alcohol. One by one they got caught and one by one – slowly – they are getting well. I work with a woman who would have given anything for her son to get caught. Instead, she went in to wake her sleeping son one morning and she discovered his lifeless 23-year old body in his bed. That mom would most certainly choose having her child get caught and being sent to jail over burying him – if she’d had the choice.

I’ve chosen to live transparently. Let’s imagine that I put two bowls of leftovers in my refrigerator. I cover one bowl with plastic wrap and one with foil. I then leave the bowls of uneaten food for several weeks. The contents of both bowls will eventually become mold-covered science projects before too long, but when I open my refrigerator I won’t have to look at the bowl covered with foil. I choose to use plastic wrap so I can see the problem and get rid of it in a timely manor. That’s what transparency is all about.

I love that pastor friend of mine who told the truth about the fact that he had taken a bumpy road for his path in life. He gets it. Many of the Bible “greats” didn’t start out so great. Hosea’s wife was a prostitute; Jacob was a liar; David had an affair; Paul was a murderer. So was Moses. Miriam was a gossip; Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal; Noah was a drunk; Jesus was poor; John was self-righteous; Lazarus was dead!

You want to judge me? You want to judge my children? Go ahead. You don’t know the whole story. You haven’t walked in our shoes. If our transparency gives one person hope and the strength to face life’s challenges, than it is worth it. Your judgment is just one more challenge, and we’ll face that one too.

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