When something unusual such as a sickness or a financial struggle hits us, my wife says, she feel hesitant to express her true feelings to others, especially to those who think that we are a kind of 'weird' Christians. She, in a funny way said, she feel pressured to save God's face. In other words, she don't want to face people's "where is your faithful God?" question. I too struggle with this. I am afraid to be vulnerable and real with those who really don't know where I stand in my spiritual life; to those who don't know that I too have struggles.
Our son (2.5 yrs old) has Vitiligo and it has become very visible and noticeable on his face in past few months. People have started asking about it. Medical Science considers this as a condition passed through hereditary but as far as we know there isn't anyone in our family history who had this disease. So, we don't know why our son. Humans haven't discovered any real cure for this disease. This is a very unique illness which can have a very difficult emotional and psychological impact on the patient as well as on his/her family. We are not afraid of this and we are doing everything we can in terms of finding alternative medicines etc and hoping and praying that God would heal him. But the healing hasn't happened yet, in the mean time we are faced with questions. I can foresee some questions coming in our way challenging our faith even.
My wife says, she is afraid to express her concerns about this to someone because what if they think that she has no hope and faith? How can she send a paradoxical message that she has hope in Jesus but at the same time worried about her son? Who would buy such a fragile hope? Though I haven't really put my thoughts into words like her, I too kind of feel the same way. Most of our relatives are very very religious but have no clue what Jesus, grace or faith means to us, and have a notion about us that we are deceived in our spiritual life by removing ourselves from the traditional family religions (Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy). It wouldn't surprise me if they even blame our leaving from the church is the cause of our troubles.
Do we need to save God's face from their accusations? We restrain our struggles from them in an effort to not to give them a chance to criticize our God and faith.
I told my wife, don't be afraid to be a fool. Don't be afraid to chock up and cry, if needed. We live by FAITH and faith is not faith if we know everything. Faith is not faith if we have answers for all our questions. When Bible says 'now we see but a poor reflection in a mirror', that's something to think about. It is this fact what underlines the significant principle of faith. The next statement says it, 'And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.' We need faith and hope now and here, but then, as we live with Him in eternity, the necessity of faith and hope are fulfilled and the greatest thing, love, reigns for ever.
Now, faith cannot be lively when we are rigid, insensitive and stagnant.
There is something farmers do before they cultivate any crops in the ground. They will till the ground by plowing and harrowing. Some use a tiller to disrupt the smooth ground and make it uneven, messy and irregular. My Dad used to own oxen and he used those animals to do the tilling in our farm. This was before today's industrialization.
The seed wouldn't grow well in a smooth rigid ground. The roots have to travel deep into the soil and for that the soil has to be vulnerable, sensitive and wounded. Only plowed soil can respond well to a growing seed.
The fear to be messy is rooted in my fleshly ambition to be "a good guy", "a perfect spiritual person" or more like a "religious showinist".
There is mess in our life here on earth whether we admit or not. It happens when our worldly securities are shaken and challenged. Then, faith comes in. Jesus talked about child like faith. A child would cry when he fall, but he will eventually stop as he is held tight. It is the faith what sanctions us to be in a muddle but at the same time allow our loving Father to held us tight until our whining silences.
I think it's okay to cry, to be vulnerable, to be confused, to have unanswered questions, to be an object of ridicule, to have faith which is hard to explain to others, to have hope which is meaningless to many, ... and if necessary, to be a fool to others.