"This is what the LORD says: 'In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, to say to the captives, 'Come out,' and to those in darkness, 'Be free!'" Isaiah 49:8-9a (NIV)
Okay. I admit it. There are things about me that are fake.
First of all, there's my haircolor. It is my original color, but not the one that is currently sprouting naturally. I'm just not ready to be totally gray...although many people look very lovely that way...so I frequent the haircolor aisle at the nearest Target or CVS.
This one is harder for me to admit. My nails are fake. I never dreamed that fake nails would appeal to me or be something that I would even consider a valid part of my budget. I don't think of myself as the kind of girl that has fake nails. But when my own nails were faring miserably, I reconsidered. And I love them...not in an idolatrous way. I could give them up at any time. But they make me feel better about how my hands look...and for a children's author and teacher whose hands are frequently holding up picture books before an audience, I can justify the cost.
The cost of my haircolor isn't so bad, since I do it myself. But it does involve the cost of my time...frequently. Pretty nails hit my wallet a little harder...even more frequently...and also take a chunk of my time.
So my fake-ness is not free.
I'm fake in other ways too. Sometimes I look happy when I'm not...wearing a mask that conceals what's really going on inside. At times I may appear to "have it all together"...when portions of my life are in total disarray. I may seem to be at home in a crowd...but I can be quite insecure...and am a homebody who loves being alone. I try to act lovingly...but sometimes I don't feel love...and sometimes my actions show that. I believe that "All things work together for good..." but find myself frequently begging God to "Help me in my unbelief."
And that type of fake comes at a cost as well. A cost that causes me to suffer...and those around me as well.
I suffer because I try to bear those burdens alone. Other people suffer because they are carrying their own burdens and feeling alone in their situations.
That's where I think we need to "Get Real." I don't mean wearing your heart on your sleeve. Or walking around like a "sad sack." Or spewing details with everyone you meet. But rather, praying for discernment in finding friends that you can trust...that you can share honestly with...and for the ear to hear when there are those that need to hear your struggles and receive ministry from the knowledge that they are not alone...to receive encouragement and prayer support...and hope for the future. And freedom.
Jesus, we know that You came to set the captives free. We know that You created us to love and to share Your love. Help us to find freedom in that love. Lord, help us not to fall victim to the lies of the enemy...who wants us to feel alone and inadequate, who uses deception to keep us in bondage. We know that You are greater than he who is in the world...You reign over the enemy. Help us to cling to You...and to build those relationships that encourage us and spur us on toward You. Thank You for Your love that is REAL...and unfathomable...and merciful...and forgiving. We praise You and love You.