Friday 7/15/2016 5:00 AM
I am sitting on the deck at my daughter’s house in Michigan, enjoying the early morning hours after my run. In the back of their yard are four pine trees. I believe they are blue spruce. When they first moved here ten years ago the trees were so dense one could see nothing through them. Over the years the trees have grown and thinned out so that one can now see squirrels and birds in the inner branches of the tree and blue sky on the other side. I’m not sure if they are suffering from some sort of disease or if the thinning of the foliage is a natural consequence of aging.
My life seems to mirror the lives of those trees. When I was younger I was concerned about what others may think of me or of my actions. I put up a nice façade but gave few people a view of what I was feeling or thinking about things. When I turned thirty-eight I began sharing my thoughts with a small group of men every Friday morning and over the years I shared more and more intimate details of my life. After a few years of that I began sharing more openly with the broader Christian community, sharing my failures and frustrations, my hopes and my disappointments. I found that my life resonated with many others, that we all have a common experience; the only difference is in the details.
Too often in the Christian community we want others to think we have it all together. We spruce up our lives, put on a happy face, and pretend everything is wonderful when inside we are full of broken branches and dead twigs. People in the world need to see real people experiencing real emotions, not little happy robots saying, “Praise God! Hallelujah!” all the time.
Brennan Manning says it well in the book Reflections for Ragamuffins. “What the world longs for from the Christian religion is the witness of men and women daring enough to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burned in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how unreal they are.” We like to spruce ourselves up, making our lives look as if we have it all together. God wants mature blue spruce trees, with our broken interior lives open for all to see and with room for the light of his healing love to shine through.