Growing up, my parents were not the most open people. Our family generally prided ourselves on how private we were, despite my parents holding such prominent roles in society, workplace and family.
My father isn’t and has never been the emotional type. His level of composure is A1. Although his level of composure is great for his profession, in the context of family, it meant emotions weren’t welcome, because He just could not relate. For him, nothing was ever worth your tears, no matter how much it hurt you. His responses to my emotional outbursts would often inadvertently make me feel stupid, and when I would tell him the reasons for my emotional outbursts, I was met with a very dismissive “so is that why you’re crying?” Sigh. To my dad, emotions were a sign of weakness and the world is a tough place, so from an early age, I had to harden up quickly. Emotions never solved a situation, logic did. Emotions simply confused you.
For those of you who maybe grew up in an African home, you know that you never discussed your business or your parents’ business outside to anyone- my understanding of this was on steroids.
My parents made it a point of emphasis to constantly remind me that people were never to be trusted; the only people you can trust were your immediate family and be careful of friends – there was a huge discouragement against having too many friends. Unbeknown to me, these notions would play friends. Unbeknown to me, these notions would play a cardinal part in my approach to life, relationships with people and my relationship with God several years down the line.
I’m an ambivert (extroverted and introverted – my social battery gets very full easily) I love meeting new people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, demographics etc. If you place me in a group setting or even one to one, somehow, I find a way to thrive and the social butterfly in me comes out. From the outside looking in, you would say “she looks like such a fun, friendly and OPEN person” and to a certain extent this is true, but it’s also not. From the transition between my teenage to young adult years, I had developed a way that people would perceive me as an open person and I was skilled in creating conducive and trusting environments for people to feel comfortable and open to me but I would NEVER open.
In reality, what I was doing was, I would become a reflection of whoever I met, I would mimic their energy, so they would feel comfortable to open up to me (like almost playing with their mind…sounds mad I know).
It was never done with malicious intent, it’s just I wanted a way of getting to know people without having to reveal anything about myself. Funny enough, it worked, because people love talking about themselves, they would go on and on and they would never realise that they knew nothing about me. I got to know people and keep my privacy.
However, what this meant was that people would share their burdens, their problems and challenges with me and I would encourage them, pray with them, advise them etc, but there was no one doing it for me. Whilst they had an outlet, I bottled up my depression, my anxiety and battle with suicidal thoughts. I didn’t know how to open up. On the outside I was the girl who had everything together, everything figured out, doing well at uni, great relationship with God (or so I thought), kept her composure but on the inside, I was dying.
The craziest part was I couldn’t even talk to God. The one person my parents said I could trust, I couldn’t talk to him about how I was really feeling. I would try and play worship music, in the hope that maybe it would make me cry and I could finally tell someone exactly what was going on…NOTHING. At church, I would be leading worship and seeing people break down and cry to God, yet I couldn’t do it. I had spent my life building my composure and getting rid of vulnerability that it translated into my spiritual life too. I was too composed to break down to my heavenly father.
Until one day, God painted a picture for me using an analogy. Imagine you have a house, in that house there is a living room, kitchen, dining and bedroom. Typically, when people come into your house – friends, visitors or even strangers they usually stay in your living room. Those who know you and your family a little better go into your dining room and even your kitchen. The only people who you allow to go to your bedroom are those you have a deeper relationship with- in other words those who you are super close to.
When God gave me this analogy, I was confused, so I asked God “what has this got to do with me and my situation?” to which He replied, “You’ve confined me to your living room like a stranger and it’s ironic because I built the whole house”. At that point, I broke down.
So, you might say “Ok cool story but what has this got to do with me?” Some of you are confining God to your living room. You’re not being real with him, you’re not being open and honest with him and it’s crazy because He knows everything about you before you knew anything about you.
You’re going through struggles and facing challenges that you’re not being real about with God, and its either because you’re too ashamed, you don’t want to sound ungrateful or you don’t want to complain. So, when you go to your secret place and pray about the issue you’re facing, you try and colour it a pretty colour, a pretty shade of yellow when in fact it’s an ugly shade of black.
It’s time to keep it 100 with God. Don’t think because you put a filter on your picture on Instagram means you also must put a filter on your struggles with God. The secret place isn’t supposed to be pretty or picturesque, it’s where the fight takes place, its where the crushing happens, it’s where the surgery happens. A place to be real and raw.
How can you expect to go into a deeper level of intimacy with him if you can’t be 100 with him?
Someone who understood this in the Bible was David. David was someone who kept it 100 with God. He was honest, open and transparent with God, he never sugar-coated his feelings or his struggles. This is evident in the Psalms he wrote: Psalms 3: 1, Psalms 6: 3, Psalms 30: 8 just to name a few. You see David understood that for him to get the help he really needed, He needed to be honest.
Another example is Jesus. At some point Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. He was scared, didn’t want to go through the pain- but more importantly He was honest about it. He asked if the cup could pass over him, (Matthew 26:39) he asked if he could avoid it. He kept it 100 with God.
Some of you are struggling with addiction to masturbation and pornography and yet when you pray instead of you to be real with God about it like “God I’m struggling here”, you try and disguise it and say, “Lord help me not to ‘sin’ “. Call it what it is, let Him know just HOW much help you need.
Some of you feel like God hasn’t been fair to you, despite how much you serve him, love Him and do his work but instead of you to keep it 100 with God and say “God being totally honest, I’m not happy with you… (and explain your reasons) …” you pretend instead, or worse you’ll be praying “God thank you because you’re so good and faithful.” when really your heart doesn’t feel that way at all. Let’s stop playing religion.
Don’t you know He’s not looking at your mouth, but your heart?
Guys, it’s time to be 100 with God. Let’s stop trying to impress God with what you feel is “acceptable prayers” or saying the things you think God wants to hear. It’s like going to a doctor and not telling him the full list of the symptoms you experience, or worse still skirting around the severity of your symptoms. What ends up happening is that the doctor will prescribe you with either the wrong medication or no medication at all because you weren’t honest.
How can you expect God to give you the level of help you really need if you’re not 100 with Him?
Honesty precedes healing. Honesty precedes freedom.