Courage to Show Your Dirt

I've been reading this book lately.  I picked it up on a whim while visiting my local Barnes & Noble.  The thing is that I've seen a lot of talk about the book on Facebook.  Other authors have promoted the book.  The author is a popular blogger.  I thought - why not? 

There are two kinds of readers in the world, if you ask me.  On the one hand, those who look at the titles, no correct that, the words in the title to decide if they are going to read a book.  On the other hand, there are those who look at the picture on the book.   I'm the first kind - go figure.  I like words. 

All that to say that when I saw the title - I didn't get it.  Wild in the Hollow, by Amber Haines.   What?  Maybe it's because I'm from the big city (insert Chicago here) that I didn't get the hallow thing.  But I plunged in and read the book out loud to Moose. (People, he likes hearing the melodious sounds of my voice). 

The book is a memoir.  It's the author's journey of faith and hiding and coming clean and learning to live her faith in an authentic way.  At first, there seemed to be a lot of problems.  Problems I couldn't relate to.  Like rebelling from parents and church.  Drinking.  Drugs.  Lots of men (Moose is my only man - you get the picture)

But about 1/3 of the way in, the story starts to turn.  Despite her rebellion, she went to church.  And while the author doesn't blame the church, she began to feel the should's of her faith instead of the freedom of being known by God.  She started to hide behind her "church" mask. Problems at home with her husband were building and yet she still put on her mask every Sunday. 

All her should's turned around after a few moves and a sharp turn into authentic community.  She and her husband started building a small group of people that were real.  A community where they confessed their sins to one another. A community where the acceptance of true confession provided healing. 

It made me cry. 

Now, I'm not really a big cryer (except when they send the Biggest Loser contestants home- but that's another blog).  But I couldn't help myself as I read the beauty of community and of coming clean and finding healing when we can own who we are, where we are, and that there is a God who redeems us right in our current places. 

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.
— James 5:16

Powerful stuff.  I don't know about you but I've always preferred to read this verse as confess your sins in private and then pray for each other. 

Confessing your sins to each other is brave.  Confessing your sins out loud is scary.  Confessing your sins to others leaves you open and exposed.  Will my people still love me?  Will my people still accept me?  Will my people tell others?  

Being vulnerable and real before others is always worth the risk. 

There is a reward in having the courage to show your dirt to another.  Healing. Not in the physical sense like a cut or scar.  But in the emotional sense.  

Our emotional scars are healed when we allow our people to love us even at our worst.  We are healed when our community sees our dirt and stoops down to wash our feet anyway. 

I attended the If: Gathering a few weeks ago.  On the first evening, Jennie Allen taught from John 13 when Jesus washes the disciples feet.  Peter refuses to let Jesus wash his feet.  Jesus tells him he must to be clean.  Peter jumps in with his whole body.  Jesus tells him only his feet need cleaning. 

Why?  Because only Peter's feet were dirty.  And while I had never heard this take on this passage before - the conviction was clear.  What parts of ourselves and our lives are we keeping from Jesus? 

Are you and I willing to show Jesus our dirt?  Wherein our lives do  we need him more than we ever thought we would?  

To be honest, I ate this up.  Yes.  Let's do this.  I've got some dirt. I will show Jesus my dirt in my own mind. 

(Please picture the sound of a record needle scratching across vinyl here)

We were going to confess to each other.  What?  We're not in James, we're in John.  (just saying)

So this woman I've never seen came up and started reading off general areas we all struggle.  Going our own way.  Not trusting God.  Following after substitutes instead of pursuing God. Every time we needed to confess a sin she read we were to press the home button on our cell phone to light it up and raise it in the air. 

Have I mentioned I was in the front row at this church I was watching at?  Hundreds of women sitting behind me as I confessed my sins with my cell phone. 

I powered through it and tried not to think about the others in the room. 

And in the end, there was something healing in the process.  To be free.  To show my dirt to Jesus and to others.  To acknowledge the posture of my heart before God in areas I prefer to forget about.  To just admit that I need help.  

Whether it's to a group of people you love or a room full of strangers, God's instructions are clear.   Confess your sins to one another.  Not to torture us.  But to heal us. 

Back to Wild in the Hollow.  You should read it.  Not to have a list of to-do's but to read a beautiful story of redemption through community.  To learn that redemption and healing are not a list of steps but a journey to being real and vulnerable and courageous with your heart. 

And after you have read it, cultivate authentic community.  Practice being real.  Be brave by allowing people to love you while you're dirty.  And watch as God uses your people to heal you in the deepest places.