This last weekend I was in Los Angeles to attend our first Grammy Awards. It was my first time in L.A. and my first time to the Grammy’s. I realized just how white and how small my little corner of the world is. That’s what I love about traveling, seeing new places and meeting new people.
On the flight out, we met a young woman who used to live in L.A. We talked about the differences between L.A. and Nashville. She confirmed what I suspected about life in L.A. That religious life didn’t intersect with real life. That there was pressure to always look like you had it together, to keep working harder and more to reach the bigger, better life.
I felt this pressure even before we left. The last few weeks, I found a BCBG dress and Chinese Laundry shoes. I had my highlights done and got a spray tan to hide my winter white. I ran out of time and money or I would have gotten a mani/pedi and had my teeth whitened. I had carefully planned outfits that only including skinny jeans. It was lot of work. My sister saw a picture and told me I looked good. Of course, I did. If I could keep up that kind of beauty and shopping regimen and my real life, I would definitely look better.
But life isn’t about just looking the part. That’s the lie we have believed. That if everything looks good on the outside, then it must be good. It’s a lie that runs rampant in the church as well. We want to put a pretty bow on every story and let everyone think that we are strong, in the Lord of course. But when we are just looking the part, we often neglect our hearts. They become another part of us to manage and control and make pretty.
My friend said that in LA going to church was just another thing you did to make yourself look good. If you had time, you went on Sunday. But if you could find something else to do, you did. It’s not something you want to do or look forward to or even miss. I have fallen into that trap before too. My faith became just another accessory to my image, another part to play, something else to put on.
When this was all that my faith was to me, it was no wonder that I still felt empty inside. I couldn’t experience all that the gospel had to offer because I was busy using it to make myself look better. It was just another accessory in my closet to make me look cool. I could leave it at home or check it at the door if I wanted to.
But I dare you to truly believe the gospel. Don’t just use it to make yourself look good or sound cool. Let it into every part of your life. Let it affect every thought and everything you do and say. The great thing about Jesus is that he loves broken people, not just the ones who look like they have it all together. When I let him see the broken places, I invite him in to work. He brings compassion and grace and mercy to all the ugliest parts of me. Instead of hiding and covering them up, I can be true.
When your life is perfect, you don’t really need Jesus. When you can get everything you need on your own, you don’t need a Provider. When you can be good enough at keeping the rules, you don’t need a Savior. But when you can’t keep up your L.A. look and your life falls apart, Jesus will be there. The gospel is for people who aren’t perfect. When you come to the end of your resources, Jesus has exactly what you need. When you realized you have broken more rules than you could ever keep, you know you need his precious blood to cover it all.
I’m so glad I get to go home. I have a place where people love me even when I’m not perfect. I have kids who think I’m the best even when I’m the worst. I have a husband who loves me all dolled up or just plain old me. I have a God who is more concerned about my heart than about my look. He is there waiting for me to turn to him on the good days and on the bad days.
To get to him, I don’t have to own the right clothes, say the right things or keep all the rules. To get to him, I just have to be true. I have to honestly admit how desperately I need him and then accept his provision. The gospel becomes part of my every day life, not just my Sunday life. That is where I want to live, in the center of his grace.