I was so cold that hot coffee couldn’t warm me. It was that deep chilling cold that penetrated my bones. I had just finished a bike ride with my good friend, Tom. It wasn’t frigid outside, just cold enough to keep biking uncomfortable even after my body warmed with the exercise. As the ride went on and the sun began to set, my feet even started to numb.
But I was still glad I went. Not only was the scenery engaging, but also the conversation. We were chatting back and forth about the week’s ups and downs, avoiding potholes in the road at that point. He mentioned a situation in which he felt he was going to lose a consulting job to another man. Knowing some of Tom’s inner story, I immediately went to the barb: “Did it raise the question again of not being good enough?” “Absolutely,” he responded. He then explained how he had worked through the struggle, noting how the situation eventually turned into a real positive. We continued then onto smoother pavement, speaking about how the events of the day can surface the deep issues of our hearts. As the ride ended, I felt my heart warm even as my body chilled. We had connected as men helping each other walk with God.
These sorts of conversations were once rare for me until I quit hiding and started telling my own story, inviting others to do the same. Now it is part of a regular routine. And one that is desperately needed. I find so many hide behind whatever personality they have constructed to make themselves acceptable. Sadly, in the church, there is often added another mask, the religious one. Deconstructing our fronts is necessary for real connection. It’s also necessary to discover who we are before God.
Just this morning in my Sunday School class, the issue was raised again. I had another friend query, “How we can help each other in the church with our deep heart issues?” My answer was to tell of my conversation with Tom. Until we share our stories, we can’t speak wisely into each other’s lives. We can’t be the church. And we can’t know the warmth of real community.
By the way, I finally got warm after a hot shower.