A Little Unknown Fact about Me

For the sake of making a point, I’m about to share a story (on the world-wide web, no less) of something that may be used against me at some point. At the very least, you’ll be able to laugh at–I mean with–me.

So, Nathan has posted two posts recently about the importance of fellowship in our lives. As he mentioned, the Bible is very clear that we need to be an active part of the “body of Christ” or the “family of believers.” Experiencing life with others is not an option, it is a biblical command. We are called to cultivate deep, authentic relationships with others in order to grow in our faith and become more and more like Christ.

I’ve been thinking about what it is, then, that keeps people (including me) from growing closer to others in the body of Christ. Why is it hard for us to develop the kind of friendships where we are sharing what is really going on in our lives and in our hearts—our struggles, doubts, fears, and even our sin? There are, of course, a variety of reasons, some of which Nathan mentioned. But, I think one reason for me is that I don’t want people to see my shortcomings or my weird quirks or my sin. I subconsciously think, “They won’t accept me if they know how I really am or what I really struggle with.”

A game we played at our small group Christmas party reminded me of the difficulty we all have with being real with one another. Anyone who knows me knows that I love games and that I can be pretty dorky at times. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to play a game where everyone writes down something about themselves that no one else knows and then we could all guess who wrote which “unknown fact.” I thought, “This will be a fun way to have people open up a little and let the walls down.”

Since I was running the game I felt compelled to think of something that would really let people see my quirkiness. So, I timidly wrote down my fact that not even Nathan knew about me, laughing heartily to myself about it. “This is going to be fun,” I thought. “I can’t wait to learn more about other people’s idiosyncrasies.” So, I gathered everyone’s responses and began reading them aloud.

What I read floored me! I grew increasingly nervous about reading mine with each “unknown fact” I opened. Here were a few of the “deep, dark secrets” people shared (the authors shall remain nameless, although some of you out there know who you are!):

“I hate it when laundry gets piled up.”
“I can get out any stain from clothes.”
“I sing in the car sometimes.”

I taunted each person’s “unknown fact” as we opened them, hoping they would see that the game was supposed to be about sharing something personal with one another. Secretly, I was hoping that my taunting would make them feel ashamed and somehow make my forthcoming revealing fact seem very praiseworthy and brave of me.

My slip of paper was one of the last ones. As I opened it, I could hardly read it. I was gripped with a mixture of embarrassment and a little fear. Through my nervous giggles I finally got out the words: “I love the smell of my own ear wax.”

Immediately the whole group—who didn’t realize that I was the one who wrote it–pounced on this person’s revealing fact. “Ewwww!” “That is sick!” “Who would like that?” “Maybe that person has an ear infection,” said one of the doctors in the room. Everyone looked around wondering who this overly vulnerable and disgusting person was.

I fessed up. “It’s me, ok? Yes, I like the smell of my own earwax! And, no, I don’t have an ear infection! Look people…I was just trying to be vulnerable,” I laughed at myself, but chided them at the same time. Needless to say, our small group has had some good laughs about it since then.

This story is sort of a silly example but a reminder of how hard it is for people to open up to one another (not that sharing about my earwax fetish makes me an ivory tower or anything!) But, my point is that experiencing real fellowship may mean putting yourself out there and even feeling really silly at times—like I for sure did that night.

It’s only as we begin to reveal our true selves to others—quirks, personality, and even our sins—that we can begin to experience real, life-changing fellowship. James 5:16 says, “Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed.” God promises to use our openness with other Christians for our good! If we share who we really are, including our sins with one another, He promises that we can have satisfying, whole lives in community.

So, I’d be interested, does anyone else like the smell of their own earwax? (I know you’re trying it out right now!)

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