A few months back, I said ‘ass’ in church. And, no, I wasn’t reading from the King James Version or referring to a donkey. I didn’t mean to, but in my life, these things happen. The worst part is that I was talking to someone new to our church. Some poor, unsuspecting woman who had met my kids and assumed I was a saint and whose husband had been in ministry–and then I show my true colors.
I don’t swear much. But I have come to believe that sometimes well placed profanity can be just the right word. (not for you, Madison). Of course, in a conversation with a stranger at church does not fall under the category of “well placed”. Sadly, I haven’t seen her since. Perhaps our church should make a disclaimer sign for me…”The words and attitudes of Kelli Gotthardt do not necessarily represent the views of this church.”
I spent this past weekend with two dear friends. Our goal was to spend time together encouraging each other and getting to know God more intimately. My personal goal was to bless both of these women. But as Saturday stretched on, my anxiety and irritability began to rise. I was quickly losing perspective and spiraling into depression and confusion. This has been a difficult season for me (see many of my previous posts) and all this down time was bringing it to the surface. Now it was decision time. Do I share what is happening to me emotionally or do I hold those thoughts until later and move forward with just listening and encouraging.
I decided to share. I cried and babbled and whined and cried some more. Very undignified and personally disappointing. The next morning over breakfast I explained that I had hoped to just ‘be there for them’ and was conflicted over my mini breakdown. I wanted to bless them. One of my friends sighed (I think she felt sorry for me)…”Kelli, you blessed us by breaking down. You set a high standard of spirituality and if we don’t ever see you struggle we are working toward an impossible, inauthentic goal”.
Ouch! Very convicting. While authenticity is one of my highest values, so is my desire to spur others on toward love and good deeds. That tension is….well…a tension. Sometimes I do better at it than others. I never want my poor performance to be an excuse for someone else’s sin, but that often moves perilously close to hypocrisy. I’m a mess. A beautiful, redeemed, forward moving mess, but still a mess.
As a black and white thinker, it’s difficult for me to grasp my own journey. That there are areas where I experience great strength and freedom. Where the Holy Spirit has transformed me and I have a taste of the new creation that is me. But, at the same time, I’m always uncovering areas of weakness and wrong thinking and selfishness and mistrust of God…How both of these are true is a mystery to me. And embracing those polarities is becoming a new part of my journey.
So be warned. If you want to journey with me you will certainly see God’s transforming power at work making something beautiful and strong out of my life, but you will also see disappointing weakness and ugliness and fear. I hope you’re not afraid. This is reality. And sometimes reality will kick your ass.
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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