“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” — James 5:16
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I recently finished reading pro golfer Bubba Watson’s insightful book, “Up and Down: Victories and Struggles in the Course of Life.” It was quite a fascinating read, to say the least. And probably the most surprising part was the transparency with which Watson laid bare his personal struggles and story in hopes of helping others find greater honesty and purpose in their individual lives. He mentions how he had opportunities to write a book previously, but he held off until now precisely because he knew he was at a place in his life where he could be vulnerable. He didn’t want to just give the polished version people probably expected to hear.
Most books do not begin with a chapter talking about having a mental and spiritual breakdown, about being on your knees in brokenness and asking God for the grace to change. But that’s exactly how Watson’s begins. And it got me to thinking about how often we like to present the best image of our lives to others — tell our stories in a way we think they want to hear and not always in the way they actually are.
We like to put in all the exciting moments, personal successes, championship-worthy memories, and top-of-the-world experiences, but leave out the strikeouts, the stumbles, the slumps, the breakdowns, the breakups, the blowups. After all, who wants to hear about the fact that you and I are imperfect people?
But to be honest, I wonder if Bubba isn’t onto something here. The more we as humans are willing to talk about the downfalls and the setbacks and the trials and the pain, the more relatable we actually become. Even as we all try to put our best foot forward, we know in our hearts that we make mistakes, we sin and we don’t have it together most of the time. We say stuff we later regret. We have to apologize to others for actions we committed that hurt them. This is real life.
And there’s something oddly comforting about the fact that nobody in this whole wide world is perfect. We’re all working at this thing called life the best we can, experiencing our fair share of difficulties along the way. But, in the midst, there is grace. There is God.
I find it interesting that James 5:16 points out that part of healing from our past is actually confession — telling one another our shortcomings and faults, and allowing others to relate and encourage us in the journey. First John 1:9 says that as confession to God and others takes place, “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
You don’t have to have it all together. Grace gives you a safe place to tell the truth, and God knows whether you’re doing what you can to honor Him each day. Don’t be afraid to be an open book. In fact, you may end up becoming more relatable to others than if you’d never shared in the first place.
— Katherine Singer
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