We have covered how Christians should not be ashamed of their own weakness, because in Christ it is no longer weakness. But what caused some questions is where I got off saying we should be willing to be vulnerable, yet also making fun of the practice of getting out your sin for display purposes only. I seemed to be issuing a challenge to Christian women to both shut up, and open up. This is because I think both are needed, often times simultaneously.
Now most of us have been in all kinds of positions surrounding this. We have been surprised by someone else’s big reveal. Maybe we have surprised someone with our own sin. We have been the person who tried to help but got the stink eye. We have been the person who was afraid to say anything so we just acted as supportive as we could while silently screaming inside. What I’d like to do here is give a few quick guidelines for how to try to wisely approach whatever position you may find yourself in.
A great guideline is “Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?” If someone unburdens on you and you are not part of the problem, then you had better be part of the solution, or you have just become part of the problem. Once you have been looped in, you are part of it. Chose your role in a way that honors God. Often times we don’t say something because we are worried about what they will think of us if we say the thing that really needs to be said. But ask yourself what God thinks of you when you don’t say anything. When you allow destructive sin to flourish in your presence, does that honor Him? Our friendships are important, but no true friend wants to see you swallowed up in sin. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – Proverbs 27:6
If you won’t be a friend, you have become an enemy. Do not bring your problems to someone who you cannot imagine saying anything hard to you. Do not be a friend who would never say anything hard.
This same guideline is great in terms of when to share your own past struggles. Are you sharing this as part of a solution? Are you sharing this so that your friend will understand where your heart is in saying these challenging things? Are you sharing so that you can all have a pity party and make no progress on the actual issue? Being vulnerable is part of challenging each other onto strength.
Here is another way of looking at it. When you bring your sin or your trouble out to talk about – what are you wanting to see happen to the sin? Many women bring their sins out like they are chia pets in need of a gentle misting with loving affirmations. Sometimes women bring their sin out like they would like someone to prune it. Maybe a little gentle admonition here or there – but only enough to keep it thriving along all the better. Many women bring out their sins so that everyone can take a little look-see at their husband’s sins and tsk tsk about all that unreachable evil. But none of this is right.
So this is the challenge – whether the sin is yours or theirs, every Christian’s goal should be to see that sin die. Because in Christ, it has been crucified. In Christ, it can die and we can live. There is no reason in this world for a bunch of Christian women to gather around sin and pet it. Or gather around and act afraid of it. Or gather around and simply look with a weird fascination.
My husband recently said that true vulnerability means going outside of the city walls to meet the enemy, not staying inside to share with others that you are afraid. This is certainly true in our relationship to our sins, as well as the sins of our friends. Are we wrestling with how we feel about our sin, what it means about us, what it means about our husbands, and what people should be doing for us in this situation? Or are we honestly seeking help with killing it?
Here is a little thought experiment for you. Do you actually want to be rid of your problem? Let’s say you have been telling friends that you don’t respect your husband. Are you willing to find out that there is a solution? And if so, are you willing to find out that you have access to that solution because the problem is actually yours? Are you willing to no longer be the person who gets attention? Are you willing to become a woman who doesn’t need to whisper prayer requests to friends? Are you willing to not have people pulling you aside at church and asking you quietly how it is going? Are you willing to have everyone assume that you are doing fine without even giving you extra meaningful looks? Are you willing to be done with this situation?
It is but the work of a moment for us to begin to identify with our problems, our sins, our special needs. To claim them as some precious part of our identity – a great way to get attention. But our identity is in Christ, and in Him our sin is dead. People who are stuck in their sins often act like victims. And this is because if you find your identity in sin, you are siding with the loser. Jesus Christ died, and He took all our sin with Him to the grave. We must see our lives in His – our hope in His victory, our freedom in His forgiveness. And all the rest of the junk that we can find? Let it die. Let it go. Bring it to the feet of the victorious Son of God. It doesn’t stand a chance.