As Christians, it’s easy to fall into the trap that says we have to be perfect. It’s easy to believe that if we’re broken, God must be disappointed in us. When things like mental illness, pain, questions, etc. come up, it is easy to want to hide them because we think that GOOD Christians shouldn’t struggle with those things and we are somehow flawed and defective if we can’t get free from them. I wrote this short story about a girl who is struggling. ❤ I hope that you will be encouraged. Remember – no one is perfect. We’re all broken and in need of a Savior.
Smiling, smiling, always smiling. That’s what a good Christian should do.
“Rejoice in all circumstances” they tell me. “Be anxious for nothing” they say. “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
I slide into the pew, thankful for the mask that hides my face. Without it, they will notice my frown. Maybe they’ll see the traces of tears left from the night that I spent awake in the dark.
Still smiling. That’s what I must do. To be seen as a good Christian, I have to stand in the storm and sing hymns until I’m rescued.
I’ve been standing long. Life is forcing me to my knees. Soon I’ll crumple into the dust. When I do, I just hope that they won’t be looking. I whisper a silent prayer that their eyes will be turned away and wish that all they’ll see is my perfect, social smile as the weight of pain slowly kills me.
Keep my lips pressed tight together. Keep the anger and shrieks of rage from escaping. Stuff it down, hide it away, do anything but let it out. Good Christians aren’t angry.
I fall to my knees, the wind still beating me from behind. I look towards the skies. That’s where deliverance is supposed to come from. My mouth is parched and lips cracked. I can’t sing another note. Those eyes that follow me everywhere, they glare down at me. Sing now. Because that’s what a good Christian should do.
I’m curled up on the bathroom floor, gasping for breath and begging Fear to release its grasp on my throat. Tell me it’ll go away soon. Promise me that it won’t come when I’m not ready. Not supposed to be afraid. After all, I’m perfectly safe. God won’t let anything bad happen to me. I should believe that. Why does it just seem so empty and hollow?
Attention seeker. Too much. Emotional. Weird. Broken. Words that sting my heart and bring tears to my eyes. Some uttered by them, others by my own mind. I tug my sleeves to cover my arms. Christians aren’t supposed to be scarred.
Keep it all together. Ignore the blackness. Ignore the pain. Ignore everything that says I should be dead. Maybe it’ll go away if I just try hard enough. I wait. I pray. Why is it still here? Why, why, why? Stop, no. Christians can’t ask why. Just go along with the punches because happy, blessed times are just around the corner. Just have enough faith and everything will be okay.
But it’s not okay. I crumble. I break. Trying so hard to keep them from seeing the real me. Trying so hard to just keep breathing. Why won’t the oxygen of hope fill me?
I’m fine, I’m okay, I’m great. Repeat it over and over again and hope that they believe me. Maybe I’ll believe me if I say it enough. Can I grind it into my brain?
Can’t keep going now. Too tired. Life is too much. Release me. I’ll fly away. I’ll find peace high in the sky. I’ll dance in the sunlight.
Failed to be the good Christian. Can’t keep smiling. Can’t find strength to stand anymore. I’m not the flawless Christian that they expect.
“Finally. You admit it.” I hear a Voice, one louder than the black ones in my head. “You’re trying so hard to be the perfect Christian that you forgot about one of the most important part of Christianity. Heart.”
I raise my weary face. A bright light is before me. I see eyes in the midst of it. They look upon me with compassion, not judgment.
“I want your heart. I want the broken, bleeding mess of you. I want to heal you. I want to give you hope.”
What’s taking you so long? I want to scream. Why are you waiting?
“You needed everything stripped away so that you could see Who you need most. The pain you feel will lead to beauty and healing.”
The light fades. I’m lying on the ground, tired, sad, broken. Will there be no end to this night? Tell me light is coming. Tell me I can rise again.
As I lay here, I hear a voice in my head. Kind. Strong. As it speaks, I begin to weep. I don’t try to stop the tears. For once, I don’t try to smile.
Jesus was angry when he found that the temple, the place of worship, had been turned into a house of greed.
I scream and let the breeze carry my shame with it. I catch my breath again and get a lungful of clear air.
Job lost everything. He cried out in agony and pain. He wanted to die. He knew the depths of darkness. God didn’t condemn him for that. He never said, “Snap out of it. Just believe harder and it’ll go away.”
I tear off my smiling mask. I touch it with fire. I watch as my façade burns. I am vulnerable. I’m not hiding all of me anymore.
David asked why. When he was being hunted, he cried out to God. God answered him.
A sob escapes my tired lips. Relief washes over me. I tremble.
Jesus was afraid. Before he went to the cross, he begged the Father to take away the cup that he had to drink from. God didn’t. He suffered, bled and died…so that we could find hope. Fear isn’t a flaw.
Pangs of sadness, joy and peace pierce my heart.
Jesus has scars, too. He is God, he could have healed them. But he didn’t. He kept them so that Thomas could have proof of his resurrection. He kept them to show his victory over death, over sin. He kept them so that you can see and find courage to keep going, so that you can believe that your scars are not the end.
Timidly, with shaking hands, I pull off my sweater. I wince at the sight of the scars. So many scars. Every one representing a thousand unshed tears, a broken heart, and a desperate girl crying out for relief from the pain. I feel the wind against my arms. I touch them with gentle fingertips, not in anger, fear or hatred as I have done so many times before.
All throughout history, God doesn’t choose the perfect people who have it all together to fight great battles and to bring hope to a pining world. No, he uses the scarred, the broken, the bruised. He uses people like you. You’re his masterpiece, not yet finished. No matter how many times you give up on yourself, he’ll still seek you out. Calling you by your true name, he’ll bring you to the place where you belong.
I push myself to my knees. The weight on my soul isn’t gone…but it’s lighter. I stand. I stumble, fall, and try again. When I raise my head from my third fall, I catch a glimpse of those compassionate eyes. They call to me, Don’t give up.
I’m not what society calls a good Christian. And that’s okay. Now I’m smiling. This time, it’s real.
Do you agree with the story? What are lies that you believe – things that you have to do and be to be “the perfect Christian”.