Thank you all for your prayers during my weekend at Steubenville. It was a great weekend, and I learned a lot. Different from last year, with some unexpected things, but still good. If there was one thing I took away from the experienceit was this phrase: "Be a real person." Why? Let me explain.
In 1 Corinthians chapter 9, verse 22, St. Paul says, "To the weak, I have become weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." Is this a good thing? Yes. It is good to include all, to want to help all. After all, God does want each and every one of His children to be gathered around the dinner table. Yet, like all good things, this mentality can go wrong.
We can very easily wish to not only include everyone, but to be included ourselves. It's our human desire for love. We want people to want us. We desire to know that we are worth something. It's why we check our Facebook to see how many likes we got. It's why we always try to crack a joke to get laughs among our friends. It's why we leave friendships behind that are "not cool enough." It's human nature, but that doesn't justify the fact that it is wrong.
We can put up a very good facade. From the same mouth that comes "Hallelujah, Holy Holy" in adoration can quickly turn around and say something spitefully cruel about the person who annoys us. From the same hands that we lift in fun hand motions during praise and worship can come actions that lead us to sin. All for the sake of being considered popular, and for that hole in our heart that won't go away to be filled.
We cram that hole in our heart with lots of things. We get close to people and then use that "friendship" to feel justified using them and acting out on our lust. We try to be someone else online, so that those who don't know us in real life will love us. We boast about our high points and hide our faults in effort to seem perfect. We try so hard to be everyone's friend, so that maybe, just maybe, one friend will stick with us when we crack and the mask falls off. Yet all these things don't fill the emptiness that we can't shake. It's because that hole in our heart is a God-shaped hole that only God can fill.
By being authentic and admitting that we are broken, we can open ourselves up to God working some amazing things in our life. By showing your friends that you are not okay, it can give your real friends the opportunity to help you get through your brokenness and be healed in Christ. By standing up and saying something when your friends start going off on how far they have gone with a girl allows them to see that it's not okay to brag about how far you have used and abused someone as if it is a contest. Be authentic. There will come a time when the mask that you have tried so hard to maintain finally wears out and falls off. Then you have to show who you really are to those who became friends with a person who doesn't actually exist.
Even worse, we put so much effort into putting on a good show about how great we are, that we miss opportunities to let God heal us. We're so concerned about looking holy in adoration that we forget why we should actually be reverent. We're so worried about looking attractive to the opposite sex that we forget what characteristics are attractive to God. If you have a mask on, take it off. Work on developing the real person that you've been trying to hide. It's amazing the things God can do in your life if you are only working to be the real you. God doesn't make mistakes. He made you the way you are for a reason. Accept that gift and let Him develop it into something you never imagined possible. Be a real person.