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Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

November 26, 2012

I entered the U.S. Air Force in June, 1992. Bill Clinton was elected as President later that year. As President, he worked to pass the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for the military in reference to gay military service members.

As a paralegal, I saw the angst in the military legal system as they wrestled with how to proceed with this brand new, confusing policy. It was confusing because it remained illegal to serve in the military as a “public homosexual” but it was legal to serve as a “closet homosexual” (very punny right?).  As you know, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” basically means “don’t talk about it”.

Many Christians operate their spiritual life with the same approach: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. The thinking is, “I’ve got lots of flaws but I’m going to act like I’m flawless.” I just won’t talk about what’s really going on inside of me.

The “Christian Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach creates incredible confusion because we want to grow our faith but we struggle . . . secretly.

Maybe your struggle is with alcohol, a temper, unforgiveness, fear, lust, pride, greed, insecurity, guilt, or broken dreams. Over time, you’ve learned how to practice “image management”. You know how to avoid talking about it.

But here’s what I know about you. You’re broken and imperfect. So am I. Yet, your struggle is the place where God can be most glorified in your life.

Yesterday, I was leading a Starting Point Small Group. (BTW, if your church doesn’t offer an on-campus small group for seekers, starters, and returners please consider it. People are looking for more than a class, they’re searching for community.) As part of this group, each participant shares their story. It’s incredible!

Yesterday, was our 10th and final group meeting. Two of the adults hadn’t shared their story and I wasn’t expecting them to at this point.

But yesterday one of the two surprisingly decided to share. She shared for several minutes and it was powerful. Through tears she shared incredible pain and brokenness. At the end of her story, I thought, “Another incredible story”. But then something happened I didn’t expect.

The other adult who hadn’t shared spoke up. While sobbing, she looked at the lady who’d just shared and said, “Thank you for sharing that. I’ve never shared my story with anyone. You and I share the same hurt. Your story made me realize that I’m not alone. Thanks to you, I’m now closer to one day sharing my story.” You could’ve heard a pen drop in that room.

Wow! You should’ve seen the smile on the face of the lady who’d just bravely shared her story for the first time. She witnessed God using her story immediately. Better yet, I sensed she realized that some of the power from her own guilt was removed since it was no longer a “secret” and she was no longer practicing “image management”.

There is no ideal community. Community is made up of people with all their richness, but also with their weakness and poverty, of people who accept and forgive each other, who are vulnerable with each other. Humility and trust are more at the foundation of community than perfection. More than anything else, God uses people to heal people. John Ortberg (Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them)

How about you? Are you sharing? Are you in community? Do you have someone with whom you can be transparent? Reject the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach.

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