I learned something: When you ask the question "what do you think is my greatest weakness?" you're going to get honest answers, and then you have a choice. You either brush off what they say, get offended by it, or receive it and learn from it.
In my case, three of the answers I got were very similar. The first friend said "kinda shy sometimes." The second said "your lack of self-esteem." The third friend gave a little more detail, and said "You lack a little boldness, seems hard for you to be real with what's going on with you."
It wasn't until I was sitting in church this morning that the third answer really struck me. The message today was on Building Real Community, and one of the pastor's points was "Fellowship is built on authenticity." He used 1 John 1: 7 here: "If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another."
At that point of the message, my friend's statement about me "not being real with what's going on" came back to me. She's totally right. I'm one of those people that, no matter how bad a day I'm having or how heartbroken I might be, I'm gonna paste a smile on my face and say "I'm fine." Neither am I very likely to open up and be vulnerable and admit that I'm struggling with something.
My pastor's challenge this morning was that that attitude is a hindrance to real, authentic fellowship. Keeping our struggles, and even our joys, hidden in the darkness of our own selves accomplishes nothing. They are meant to be shared. We are meant to walk in the Light and to be known -- known by God and by our brothers and sisters. We are called to bear one another's burdens. If we keep our burdens to ourselves, first of all no one can help us bear them, and second, we have no strength left to help others bear theirs.
So that's something I want to work on... authenticity. Yes, self-esteem and boldness and being less shy... but also being real. Why is it so hard for us to just be authentic?
"Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another." James 5:16