There is a song by a popular country artist that has this line in it: “You’re tied together with a smile but you’re coming undone.” The song is, at least in part, about what it feels like to be a teenage girl with all the growing pains that entails.
But when I heard it today I couldn’t help but wonder whether that line wouldn’t describe most of the people in our churches as well. Maybe even you.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have perfect lives. But who would know? We show up at church every week, put on a smile, and pretend we have it all together. I’m sure that some of us are closer than others, but I’m equally sure that none of us have it all together.
Which makes me wonder…
What if church was a place we could be real with each other, without fear of judgment. What if we could share our deepest sorrows, frailties, and even sin and know that this is a community that would enfold us, love us, help restore us to what God intended.
What I mean is what if we could come to church and tell them that we are struggling with alcohol or greed or lust and we are failing. And what if, rather than sideways glances and judgmental stares, we were met with understanding and prayer, and promises of help and accountability.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that church should become a place where failure and sin are accepted; that we can come as we are and stay that way. That sort of community is not church, not the ‘called out ones.’ God calls us as we are, but expects us to put on the new clothes of Christ every day. We live our baptisms throughout our lives, dying to our old sinful selves and rising to new life in Christ. And the church is where we should be helping each other live into that new life. But that’s pretty hard to do if we can’t acknowledge that our old life is still appealing, and still tempting us.
Perhaps what we need is to be reminded that we are a not a community of perfect people, despite the smiles on our faces on Sunday morning. Perhaps we need to hear that we are all coming undone, we are all working to unravel the old and live into the new. And most importantly, perhaps we need to be reminded that we can’t do it alone.