Sometimes great questions have uncomfortable answers. Recently I was asked the following question (paraphased) during a radio interview:
The church is supposed to be a safe place for imperfect people. But often it seems it’s more full of plastic and pretense than real, down-to-earth, in-progress people. How do we get the church to become a haven where real people can share their hard stuff, without fear?
GREAT question, a valid one. I told the interviewer so. Isn’t this what we all want? A safehouse where we can be fully ourselves, without shame or fear or threats of rejection?
All too often, however, I hear horror stories of how the church has been anything BUT this. I’ve had a few run-ins with this myself.
My answer, however, wasn’t what you’d expect.
How do we get the church to become a safehouse for in-progress people?
You and I have to go first.
We are the church, you and I. If we want things to change, we can’t sit in our bleacher seats, point out the bad calls and hope for a different outcome. We have to suit up, grab a bat, and play ball.
The church becomes what it was designed to be when you and I become who we were designed to be. That means if we want the church to be a safe place, we need to become a safe people. Men and women who love and embrace imperfect, in-progress people.
I can’t tell you how often I meet people who don’t think they can be loved by or used by God. Their reasons vary: a complicated past, an unforgiveable mistake, a physical disability, a mediocre education, a lack of skill. Whatever their reason, they can’t see beyond their lack to the possibility of a powerful God.
But here’s the deal: God uses imperfect people. All the time.
In fact, imperfect people are his favorite kind.
[callout]This is a short selection of an in-depth conversation Michele shared with a circle of close friends March 7, 2015. For background on the series, you can read about it here. If you’d like to watch the interview in its entirety (it’s just over 55 minutes), please click here for instant access.[/callout]
Do you struggle with believing that God could use you and your imperfect story? Why or why not?
I loved hearing you speak in this video! I so relate with this journey of yours. My ability to speak clearly was altered during my brain surgery and it’s better but not perfect. It is hard to talk and there is a part of me that is embarrasses by that and my other disabilities (like falling into people and walls). But you reminded me that God chose the imperfect to go out and tell His story. Thank you so much for being brave. You are my Jonathan and Caleb…spying out the land. And you are finding it with milk and honey. :o)
I KNOW you feel self-conscious about these physical changes—simply because I do, too. 🙂 But I have to tell you … you couldn’t be more beautiful than you are now. I see Jesus in you. And it’s quite incredible.
What a blessing this is! And you are so right. We imperfect Christians have to be willing to step out in faith trusting God really is in control and do what God designed us to do. I’m finding it’s a hard process to really dive in, no holds barred, to trust God more than I listen to the fear. But the results are incredibly worth it.
I particularly like this statement: “We have got to start gracing ourself differently in order to live the life that God has prepared for us.” Thanks for getting out of bed and sharing with us your imperfect self. I love it, and it helps me be brave too.
So true, Carrie. We talk about trust easily, it slips off our lips as if it doesn’t require much, doesn’t cost anything. And yet truly trusting is an exercising of our will more than a feeling. The more we practice belief, the more peace descends. But sometimes we just have to CHOOSE to trust in spite of the feelings. That, I think, is true faith.
I used to struggle a lot with that thinking until I came to the same conclusion you have. If the world doesn’t see how Jesus makes a difference in the middle of my mess, then what’s the point?
Yes, yes. Exactly. Thanks, Jerolyn.
I love your heart and your vulnerability! Don’t hold back because God is using every part of your messy journey to speak a beautiful truth about His character. Praying for complete healing!
Thank you for the dose of courage, Angela!
I so admire your courage in the face of trials. You continue to inspire me and what you said in this video clip is exactly what I have been writing about this week. I cannot wait to watch the full video but right now I nestled away in a mountain cabin with limited internet and I am writing my book about my messed up life, adoption and God’s redemption. Thank you for encouraging me today. I cannot wait to read your book. God Bless.
This post so speaks to my heart. Coming from a crazy, dysfunctional background, we as a family saw God use us in the middle of our healing, (not when the story was tied up with a bow.)Yup, we are a testament that God uses imperfect people and stories! One day I said to Him what If people think I’m nuts when I share some of this stuff? His reply: “good, that means I get all the credit when they see your healing.” Lol oh Lord may you remove our masks and let us feel safe to go first as Michele said. So beautiful Michele. This post and video truly gave me courage today and confirmed so much the Lord has been speaking to my heart.
I used to go to Church Michelle, although I loved God and think he is perfect and the Bible is his word.. I couldn’t tolerate many of the Christians and their self serving attitudes – complete with ‘holy’ bow on top. Given God is perfect and people (including Christians and myself) are not it would help me to know how, and even why, you choose to, and are able to, to embrace Church life. Am I missing a point here? It would not be the first time..!
Thank you for being honest and vulnerable. I only recently started listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcasts, hoping to get some help with productivity as I have gone back to school in my 50s, and I feel so overwhelmed at times. I also recently got braces, and I talk “funny” because of them, which makes me a little self-conscious. When I watched this and realized the BIG trials you’ve been going through, yet your willingness to share your life and admitting how hard it is for you to talk “funny,” it made me sad I had cared so much about my braces. You gave me courage to be more open and willing to share my life, even when I feel awkward. Many blessings to you and prayers for healing and for deep and lasting influence for God’s purposes in the lives of the people who are blessed to be touched by your life.