Last week I received a Facebook message from Amber. Her story was so powerful I just knew I had to share it with you!
Amber let the No More Perfect Moms message change a friend’s marriage and spark a ministry in her church. This is a reminder that you and I can make a difference if we’ll just learn to take off our masks and be real.
With the Hearts at Home conference approaching again, I found myself reflecting on last year’s conference and how it has changed my life, and I wanted to share that with you.
January 17, 2012, my best friend since childhood took her own life. She had waged a long battle with addiction, recovery, and relapse, and made a permanent decision in a moment of desperation. To say that I was devastated does not do it justice. After her funeral, I remember writing on Facebook “My heart wonders how different her life–and other’s like hers–would be if we, in the church, allowed people to be honest about where they really are; if we knew what it meant to love like Jesus loves, and had the courage to do it.”
Not that I blamed anyone for her death, but the things I saw as I walked that journey with her opened my eyes to the fact that addiction and depression are “taboo” in the church. We just assume if people loved Jesus enough, they wouldn’t have those kind of problems. It broke my heart to realize not only how wrong that thinking is, but how much damage it does when put into practice.
My husband pastors a small local church (around 40 members), and sometimes I feel like our reach is limited by the small number. But, I started praying that God would give me a way to make a difference, even if it was only in my family or church. My husband and I shared several ideas with each other over the course of that year, but never felt truly led to run with any of them.
Then came Hearts at Home last year. “No More Perfect Moms” struck me, and I sat in the opening session thinking “What if we said “No More Perfect Christians” too?” What if we started taking off our masks in the church, and got honest about things that really mattered? What if we stopped acting like we have it all together all the time? What would that look like? What more could we do if we were like that?
God didn’t wait long to answer.
That evening, my friend and I sat waiting for Moms’ Night Out to start. She made a comment about how badly she needed this night out–things at home had been really stressful. I can’t explain why, but I knew I needed to tell her our story. My husband and I had gone through a time in our marriage that was ugly. It was not something we’re proud of, but God brought us through it, and we are better off now than before. People tell me I shouldn’t share that because we’re “the pastor’s family” and it might make “bring us down.” But in that moment, I just knew I needed to tell her. So I told her my story.
She started crying, and thanked me for being honest. She said she and her husband were struggling–had considered a divorce–and had been for months, but they didn’t think they should say anything. They were afraid of how people in church would perceive or treat them if they knew things were bad. It broke my heart, but she gave me permission to share it with my husband and they began counseling.
Thank God–this couple has been through a year of counseling, and God has healed their marriage. Things are never “over” but we have seen God do great and mighty things! After that conference, it became clear to us that the “everyone needs to be perfect” way of thinking is broken in the church, too. Something like that is not easy to change, but we are trying!
We began a ministry called R3. It stands for Ransomed, Restored, and Released–after Galatians 5:1. We host an addiction recovery group, and a Grief Share group. It is our prayer that by offering these groups, it will create an environment where people feel safe coming as they are, and that body of Christ will become more aware of the devastating effects of addiction and depression–and be motivated to do something!
No More Perfect Moms is a wonderful message, and I am thankful for it. But you should know–it inspired No More Perfect Christians, and our ministry will never be the same.
This is such a powerful story! A few takeaway questions come to my mind:
1) Who needs to hear your story? You don’t have to stand in front of an audience to make a difference. Amber’s choice to take off her mask and share her story changed her friend’s marriage.
2) Are you contributing to the Perfection Infection in your church, neighborhood, or circle of friends or are you, like Amber, trying to eradicate it with your authenticity? The more you let people see the “real you,” the more the Perfection Infection loses its hold.
2) Who do you know (besides yourself) that needs a break? A night out? A getaway? A place to find refreshment and refueling? Ask that friend to come with you to a 2014 Hearts at Home conference!
Do you know that if you live in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, or Illinois you are within an easy driving distance of the March 14-15 Hearts at Home Conference in Normal, IL? Women from those states are already registered as well as women who are hopping on a plane to make it happen!
Grab a friend, organize a group, or come alone! Amber’s story is a testimony to the value of taking time to refuel and the difference it can make in your life.
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