Hungering for Honesty

by Christine Sine
Open Face courtesy of Morguefile

Open Face courtesy of Morguefile

By Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

One of the things I believe is scarce in the conversations we have, particularly on social media and blogs, is honesty. Perhaps even more so in Christian circles, where we are sometimes scared to admit our fears, our ignorance and our pain, and certainly we rarely talk about sin or the dark things that have a hold on us, as though now we know salvation we have instantly become perfect and free from every poison. I know also as a writer that it is so much neater if what I want to say all fits into 800 words and doesn’t contradict itself, and preferably has three summarising words that all start with the same letter. It’s nice if it feels whole and I can make a sweet meme to encapsulate the wisdom I believe I’m sharing. Sometimes that happens, but it feels unsatisfactory, a little hollow, even. That carefully contained few paragraphs is never the fullness of what I want to say or read.

Yes, I want to share and find thoughts, truths, even, sometimes beauty. But I also want to cast a light down into the dark places and let readers know that it is okay to portray these too. I want to profess my own ignorance and laugh at my failures and be fully human. So when I come across a writer who is not afraid to say that this is not how it always is, or to show compassion for the dark sides to our moons, to even dare to say we might learn something from our shadows, I feel more sated. When I experience the freedom to say how it really is, how it honestly feels, what the upside and downside is, to admit that compassion and the heart want to stray elsewhere, along the gutters and down the stained steps and beside the lost or the dying, then my truth-seeking missile-mind leaps with joy. Because my God is a down in the pigsty, slipping away from the stoners, shouting at the Pharisees, calling out the Baal-worshippers, seeing the fiery chariots that are invisible to everyone else, dragging me up from the deep drowning waters to prophesy salvation kind of God.

Don’t we need, more than ever in this terrifying world, to talk about the scary stuff? Promiscuity, mistakes, violence, abuse, poverty, pornography, death, pride, alcoholism, the stink of self-righteousness, sickness, consumerism, misogyny, slavery, the scandals of institutionalised racism and patriarchy? Not to obsess about them, because Philippians 4:8 (a guiding verse for me) makes it clear our focus is the light, the good, the wonderful. But to have honest conversations in order to help one another, we need to be truthful.

Even more than this, I want to be searingly honest about the one who is the centre of my life. I want to be able to describe him as a her when I feel it appropriate, or say God is beyond gender and outside of time, I want to boggle minds and push boundaries of conventional understanding. To talk about where we sadden the Lord or frustrate her. This longing to be real, to talk to the Church about how our fellowships need to be whole, inclusive, all-encompassing, truly forgiving and loving, this is a hunger I have stirring and crunching my innards, and I see it in others too.

I see a community of searching disciples of Christ of all ages who look at him, hear his words, take them on board in a fire of deeply passionate commitment and then look disappointedly at the coolness of the organised religions around them. I see that desire to bridge the gaps they see, to be the change that’s needed, to have the difficult discussions and hold the spaces around disagreements and doctrine with holy patience. I want this honesty because I long for the Body of Christ to be an organism that the world can look at, and see him. Look at and say, oh, those Jesus folks, they are about love. Not the easy, on the surface, smile now gossip later, maybe we’ll do lunch kind, but the completely committed, there for you in a crisis and a chronic situation, not just now but always, warts and all, unjudging agape wholeness. However paining or hard it is, above all I want our servant-king-friend-brother-lover of our souls to look at us as he did at Nathaniel and say, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

© Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

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Mary Jenney February 19, 2016 - 7:52 am

Please consider, in this Year of Mercy, writing about the spiritual works of mercy: counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear wrongs patiently, pray for the living and the dead. The corporal works of mercy are much more tangible but we need help with these spiritual works. This may be a Catholic list, I’m not sure, but worth our care.

Lisa de Jong February 19, 2016 - 2:08 pm

Hear hear! Well done and thanks:) Ana Lisa

Kate Kennington Steer February 22, 2016 - 5:03 am

Thank you Keren. I hear your call and feel an answering tug in my heart, that this is a beginning of how I might want to talk of my kind of God, my kind of church, my kind of belief. Thank you for opening this window of honesty within yourself, thank you for sharing the crunching and the stirring, these movements in you already lay seeds in us.

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