"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."
“Wow, you’ve really come out of your shell!”
It’s meant to be a pleasant phrase, but it’s always felt a little barbed, as if my personality were a cup of tea that had finally, finally steeped. I’ve heard it throughout my life, but it was only recently that I realized it was true. When I first met people, I focused so much on being polite and likeable that I often came off as nice, agreeable and…unmemorable. Ouch.
Not the kind of thing you want written on your tombstone, is it? My desire to make a good first impression kept me from being the real me in front of people; it kept us from connecting, and even worse, it kept us from being able to help each other and grow in our faith along the way.
There’s such power in letting yourself be vulnerable; in having the strength to say, “Here’s where I fall short, and I could use your prayers to help me get through it.” Even the embarrassing, ugly, seemingly unlovable things. In my very scientific estimation, 98.3 percent of the time, someone you’re confessing to has been through – or is going through – something very similar. There’s freedom in openly discussing your flaws and praying through them, and it’s even more rewarding to be able to pray for someone else. You can hold each other accountable; someone’s praying for you even when you’re ready to give up on yourself (which, in moments of defeat, can definitely happen). That’s incredible.
The best part, though? When you’re on the other side of that struggle, you can be a guide and earnestly pray for someone who’s staring up at that same challenge. The Journey Church has a saying: we’re not a congregation of saints; we’re a hospital for sinners.
We’re all a work in progress, and we’re faced with a choice each day: am I going to chase perfection, or authenticity? Those prayers; that community you create by showing up and bringing your whole self to every interaction, that’s you living your purpose: To love God and love others.
Now show the world there’s no shell holding you back.
Candace Davison is the web editor for O, The Oprah Magazine and just published a tailgate cookbook called Collegiate Cook’s USF Gameday Recipes. When she’s not blogging, she’s cheering on the (oft-struggling) USF Bulls.