Andrea Levendusky from The Organic Bird
"So, what brought you to Texas?"
This was the question that would send nerves in my knees shuddering into my throat. A harmless one, on the surface. But the kick of the anthill to my soul.
Inevitably, this was the first thing most people would ask me when I moved to Texas. When I ran from God. When I indulged in sin and found myself in a "foreign land". This question haunted me as I walked a long road, found redemption, and started the beautiful journey of restoration. At first, I didn't want people to know my "stuff" because it might mean they wouldn't accept me. And even after restoration, I was scared if people knew, they wouldn't accept me.
The question would come, I'd dodge it and internally want to shout, "I am not a colossal failure at life!" Questions in community come quickly — and if a girl is going to save face, she better be on her toes with quick and witty answers. Because saving face is what it's about...right?
I used to, and sometimes still, do this a lot. To old friends. Family. Strangers. New friends. My pastor's wife.
Something in me wants to defend my reputation, salvage what's left of her feeble frame. Prop her up with words and excuses, stories and claims. Dress up her skeleton and hide her macabre cry. Make her look less like what she actually is — me without Christ.
Here's the thing — in order for any of us to have the kind of relationships that actually serve their purpose (to build up, encourage, exhort), we're going to have to stop trying to preserve our reputation.
You are not better than me. I am not better than you.
I can't tell you how many conversations I've had with friends where I would say, "There is nothing you can tell me that will shock me." Because I had been there? Not necessarily, but maybe. Because I was ok with their sin? Nope, but Christ died for the sick, not the healthy.
But because we are all broken skeletons walking straight to the grave without Christ. No propping up or vain accolades needed.
Let's just be honest.
We all equally, desperately need Jesus. The thing that separates us from God is not how much sin we have committed. It's the existence of it. One stain separates us from him entirely. Christ's death covers us fully.
The most powerful, life-changing moments inside of a healthy community have been when people finally stop trying to impress everyone, or protect themselves. When those things stop, something real happens. We allow room for honesty. For love. Rivalry and conceit scatter into the shadows as humility and grace rush in. We allow truth to bleed, someone grabs a bandage, someone grabs the water and next thing you know, true community is turning from bone to flesh.
And that reputation you so desperately wanted to preserve? Let those bones crumble. Let Christ be what you're known for.