This year so far has been a difficult year for me. I can’t point to one thing in particular that has made it difficult but it’s more like God is working on me in uncomfortable ways. I’ve been challenged more than I ever have before and I’m growing in ways I never knew I needed to grow. I’m wanting to try new things and I am actually trying some of them. I’m figuring out that I really don’t have any of my crap together at all. And that’s OK.

God has placed me in a church where I’m being challenged on a regular basis. The surprising thing is that most of the challenges are coming on days that aren’t Sunday. At my church, we have a “normal” Sunday service but we also have small groups that we meet with during the week. We do life with these small groups during the week. They’re officially called Missional Communities but our group is fond of calling each other family.

The amazing thing is this is the first time I’ve really let myself be challenged in my faith. In the past, I always kept people at arms length. I never let them get close enough to me to see anything but what I wanted to project: a cool confident guy, who was in love with Jesus and never had any problems ever. I didn’t want people to get close to me and to see the crap in my life.

Another reason I kept people at arm’s length is because I was a different person around different people. At church I was one person, at school another; whenever I was hanging out with my geeky friends, I was another person entirely. It was exhausting.

As I’ve been seeing people from church on days other than Sunday, I’m starting to discover how counter-gospel that is. God wants me to be who He made me to be, not who I think other people want me to be. I’ve spent so long putting up a mask that I have a hard time remembering who it is that God has made me to be.

While part of this is happening simply because I’m hanging out with church people, this is also happening because I’m choosing to allow it to happen. I’m being intentional about being open with those around me. Yes, I know intentional is the Christianese phrase right now but it’s very true. I’m having to constantly catch myself thinking about hiding my sins from my church family and I have to willingly choose to be honest and open about them. It’s scary but so far it’s been worth it. God has put a great group of people in my life who are constantly reminding me that there’s no condemnation in Christ.

I’m learning. I’m being challenged. I’m growing. And that’s all I can ask for right now.

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