I have a confession to make. I know it’s bad and I know it probably wasn’t good for me but last week I watched 5 episodes of The Only Way is Essex in two days. I know most of you will now think I’ve finally lost the plot but you have to understand there’s no escaping my place of birth and the county in which I spent the majority of my life so far. You can take the girl out of Essex as they say! It’s just that sometimes I’ve heard enough “Eh up me duck” and I’m craving a bit of “Shuuuut Uuuup”. So since I emigrated to Derbyshire, I’ve watched more TOWIE than ever before.
I have a love-hate relationship with the show. There are some scenes that are so cringe-worthy that I have to fast forward through them because I can’t bear it. But I love it when it’s funny – take Billie and Sam’s attempt to weigh their cleavage in the kitchen scales. If you’ve got the stomach to cope with the gratuitous camera close ups (provided for the male viewers no doubt) then give it a watch here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl9XxrZLHx0 ). I cried myself silly laughing at that scene!
In the last episode of the most recent series (catch it here at 25m50s if you can bear it! http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=TheOnlyWayIsEssex), Gemma Collins was left crying in her car because she’d been refused entry to The Sugar Hut night club in Brentwood. According to the Daily Mail this is “the biggest snub in Essex!” I thought that actually happened in 1987 when the most popular girl in Year 6 didn’t invite me to her birthday party but obviously the national press don’t agree!
The image of this young woman crying in her car remained with me for some reason. I suppose I felt sorry for her. The rest of the characters were partying away in the club and she was excluded. She called her on/off boyfriend and when he didn’t seem supportive about getting her into the party, she changed the subject to discuss whether he really wanted to be with her or not.
Gemma’s experience that night reminded me of the lyrics to Labrinth and Emeli Sande’s recent number one hit “Beneath You’re Beautiful”
“Behind your Broadway show
I heard a voice say please don’t hurt me.”
Gemma’s known for being bold and brassy and saying it as it is. She doesn’t seem afraid of confronting people and telling them just what she thinks but behind this bravado I guess she’s like most of us, she’s hiding some hurt.
I can’t remember where I first heard the phrase “we present our sorted selves to each other” but it’s a term that’s really stuck in my brain. We’re not good at saying “I’m hurting, I’m broken, I’m struggling, I’m frightened or I’m worried.” But there are times like in Gemma’s car when it spills out and there’s nothing we can do about it.
I believe faith has got to work when the proverbial hits the fan. I suppose in the words of REM “Everybody hurts sometimes” and unless we as a faith community are prepared to accept that and all that comes with it then we will not be effective in reaching our communities or supporting each other.
We need to be real about our brokenness but I know I’m not always good at it. Even last night after making a first draft of this blog, I walked into church and somebody said the classic line, “Hi. How are you?” What do you think I said? “I’m fine thanks.” Was I fine? No, was I heck as like!
Given the life experience I’ve been through over the last few years, I think some of my calling is to share my brokenness and the power of faith in God through those times. I want to encourage others to share their brokenness with each other too instead of presenting a shiny veneer of ‘church’ and ‘everything’s fine here’. I know there are times and people with whom that is appropriate and other times and people with whom it is not. To be fair to myself, it would have been inappropriate to share what was on my mind last night with the person who asked me. But it was appropriate to share it with the saint who texts me every day to see how I’m doing. I think that’s called accountability.
In 2 Corinthians 12 v 9-10 Paul writes,
“9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I wonder if what I present online is my sorted self too? Maybe it’s time to boast gladly about my weaknesses and practice what I preach again. So guess what people?
- I am really frightened about things you’d never believe I worried about.
- I don’t like to be alone.
- I’m not convinced I’m a good parent.
- I constantly question whether I’m really doing what God wants me to do.
- I shake with nerves when I have to phone people I don’t know.
- I’m really scared I’m going to get hurt by the people closest to me.
- I really worry about what you think of me.
Sound familiar? See – you’re not on your own.
But what I am sure of is that I can bring all of these weaknesses and feelings to a loving God who cares about me and will never leave me.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5v7
There’s no need to present any kind of sorted self to Him for He’s the only one with any real power to do any of the sorting anyway. He already knows what’s going on in my head. There’s no surprises for Him.
“…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6v8
And guess what? Even better, He sees beneath all that we dislike about ourselves, all our pain and rejection. So today, will you let Him “see beneath you’re beautiful?”