“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
It was late, we were on our way home after a thirteen-hour day of working and serving. We quietly talked, reminiscing about two famous people who had died that day. Both of us were looking forward to climbing into bed, reading a few chapters, and falling asleep. As Terry unlocked our front door, I glanced to the right, seeing flies darting across the front window. On closer inspection, and to my horror, I realized they were on the inside! We came in and, upon investigation, found over a dozen flies had taken up residence not only that window, but four more windows in my house! These flies were strange, they didn’t fly away as we started swatting. They were in a drunken stupor, and I caught a few with only a piece of paper towel. Within ten minutes, we had annihilated all the flies we could find. We still have no idea how they got in, or why they ignored the bowl of nectarines I had on the table. It was surreal! This mini invasion was fought off, and we still managed to squeeze in a few chapters before falling asleep.
When I woke up this morning, I thought maybe it had been a dream, only to find a few more flies we had missed buzzing around. I am hoping we are now in a fly-free zone. I had intentions of posting a different blog, but as I was praying this morning, I felt like God asked me to share this story. Honestly, I have never wanted to write about houseflies, especially an invasion of my home. Most of you have never met me and might conclude that I’m not a good housekeeper. Others might think, “I would never tell anyone about finding bugs in my cream of wheat as I poured it into the boiling water for my kid’s breakfast.” And still others might think, “I would never talk about hearing a mouse in my garage.” Again, all of these are true stories that have happened to me. And I am sharing them with the potential for others to read and judge my housekeeping skills.
But pests are a natural part of life. Even the best housekeeper living in a brand-new house will occasionally find an unwanted creature in their home. Yet, the pictures of the creatures rarely make Instagram or find their way into Facebook updates. Pests, junk drawers, overflowing closets, and recipe flops don’t quite paint the type of picture we want others to see or know. Yet, at one time or another, all of us have had to face these issues.
As much as we keep our battles with pests quiet, we keep the personal battles we face even more private. We rarely talk about the serious troubles we have had in our marriages, or the times we have been frustrated over our toddler’s spilled milk. We never share about the times others made us feel less than or the times we failed in our professional lives. We don’t discuss our financial struggles or post comments about the vacations we couldn’t plan. We don’t talk about the endings of friendships or the struggles with addictions we face. And for those of us who are Christians, we certainly don’t talk about our faith struggles or ways we have been hurt in a faith-based community. Additionally, we don’t talk about the ways we have failed others by saying spiteful or inconsiderate things.
I wonder, is it easier to keep these things private? Cliches like “don’t air your dirty laundry in public” or “keep that within the family” have been part of the American lexicon for years. It has even affected how we deal with those in the public eye. I remember naively thinking that Bill Clinton was the first president to have illicit relationships in the White House, but after reading biographies about all past presidents, I learned he wasn’t the first. The difference is that the press no longer decided to hide this information from the American public.
In recent years, thinkers like Brene’ Brown and Curt Thompson have talked about the importance of vulnerability and transparency for us and within groups. Both in their books and their podcasts, they report that vulnerability leads to healing, growth, and connection. Psychologists and doctors are reporting that these private stories where we feel shame, trauma, or loneliness lead to all sorts of psychological and medical issues. It also affects future relationships including our marriages and parenting. It even affects how we relate to God!
Although the hashtag vulnerability is trendy, the Bible records the importance of vulnerability. Jesus never shied away from addressing hard issues in people’s lives. He addressed Martha’s priorities when she questioned her sister’s unwillingness to help. He addressed Peter’s heart after Peter had denied him at the cross. He addressed the Samaritan woman’s marriage status when asking for water. In all these situations, Jesus never addressed issues to shame or condemn people. Instead, He used their vulnerability to bring them into a deeper relationship with him. Martha now knew what was important, Peter preached salvation on the day of the Pentecost, and the Samaritan woman spread the news of Jesus.
In the next few blogs, I am going to be vulnerable about some areas in life. I am still praying about what areas to share. I do know I will cover some vulnerability about my faith journey. I hope to share with my readers places where my lack of vulnerability has caused harm to myself and others, and where my vulnerability has led to healing. I am not doing this to get a sympathetic response from my readers, instead I hope it encourages you to grow and heal.
Finally, back to the mini invasion of flies. As I was writing this today, what I thought was a fly-free zone was incorrect. I am still finding these lethargic flies around my house. I will continue to fight them, but I also need to find out how these flies are getting in. Maybe by being transparent, my readers can give me insight, because I truly believe vulnerability leads to answers!