Have you ever been to a counseling session? I have. Multiple times. It’s incredible.
I’ve been to group counseling as well. That’s great, too.
The people I hang around and work with are actively trying to take the negative stigma out of counseling and normalize it. I sincerely hope it’s a trend elsewhere, too. It needs to be.
Sitting in the counselor’s chair is admitting that you’re not OK and there’s areas of your life you wish were more healthy. When you do that there’s immense freedom that overwhelms you. A freedom that breaks the chains of performance-based living.
I was talking to a friend recently and commenting on how, in America, there’s a desire to be seen as all-put-together (probably in other parts of the world too, but America is my context). We live in a performance-based culture, where everyone wants to be seen when they’re at the top of their game.
Even though it’s understood that no one is perfect, we’ve created a society where perfect is what’s presented. Airbrushed images, makeup to cover blemishes, scripted talk-shows, etc. If it’s on camera or print, then it’s gotta be perfect.
The byproduct of this culture is when a less-than-perfect area of our lives presents itself, our first — and loudest — desire is to hide it. No one can know that we’re not perfect. No one can know that we struggle. And so it becomes a secret.
When sin becomes secret, it secretly grows.
Whatever you’re struggling with will grow, even though it seems as though you’re managing it. As long as you keep it a secret, it’s gaining power behind the scenes.
James, the brother of Jesus, talks about this. He penned these words (James 1:14-15):
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
The word “allowed” sticks out to me. James knows that because of Jesus, sin doesn’t have to grow…but it will if we allow it. If we keep on hiding the failures, struggles, and sins that haunt us, they’ll eventually grow to a point where we no longer have control of them. They’ll find a way out.
I don’t know the details, but I’m guessing this is one of the reasons multiple people are being outed for inappropriate behavior towards women. We live in a culture that makes it easy for men to objectify women. If we, as men, hide that sin long enough and pretend that we have control over it, it’ll eventually take us out.
My friend, Noah, is releasing a book soon – and just wrote an article for the Lansing Post – about this very subject.
The sooner we can all admit that we’re not OK, the better. The sooner we humble ourselves, stop photoshopping our flaws so it appears we have none, and come to grips with the fact that we’re not Superman (or Superwoman), the sooner the performance-based, portray-only-perfect culture will begin falling apart.
We must begin normalizing our pain, struggles, failures and areas in need of growth. If done in healthy community, those things that once hid in the shadows and had power over us will be brought into the light and the power deflated.
But that’s just step one.
It’s not enough just to all huddle together and chant, “We’re not OK! We’re not OK!” The reason our Heavenly Father sent Jesus was so that, by His Grace, we can be free from the power of sin and take steps towards health. We can join others in community and help each other grow.
If all men ever did was admit to each other that they struggle with lust, and they don’t have a healthy view of women, but never did anything about it, then nothing would change.
Accidental growth doesn’t exist. It must be intentional.
Apply this to finances. I’m a spender. If all I ever did was confess, “I spend!” but then never hold myself to a budget, I’d never move forward in my finances.
We must grow. Because even though it’s OK that we’re not OK, we were created to continually take steps towards living like Jesus. To settle into complacency is to cheapen the grace Jesus bought us. As Bill Hybels often says, “God has only ever given us His best.”
So here’s to throwing away perfection, setting down the photoshop brush, locking arms with other flawed humans, and running after Jesus.
We’re not OK, and that’s OK…but let’s get better, together.