We’ve read the articles and we’ve watched all the "stuff [fill in the blank] say" videos on YouTube. Everybody’s talking about First World problems; nobody’s talking about Nickleback. Christians are talking about prayer warriors; they aren’t talking about beer.
Christians, like many other groups of people, are notorious for keeping their most candid conversations under lock and key. Most real conversations about spirituality are just too messy. And if we shared what we were really thinking, what might people think of us?
But what would happen if we embraced the honesty of the thoughts that cross our minds every day? Maybe we’d just get strange looks. But we might also find ourselves in a world fresh with accountability and unparalleled growth.
This is the stuff Christians don’t ever want to say … but maybe should:
1. “I haven’t read my Bible in, like, three months.”
When’s the last time you sat down with some of your friends and heard somebody admit that? I consider myself a person of overwhelming candor, and I’ve only said it to a few of my close friends. But let’s get serious. We’ve all had times where we weren’t exactly staying up all night with the book of Kings. Yet those nights we don’t stay up that way might be what others need to hear the most—and the nights we ourselves need others to hear about.
2. “Totally fell asleep during that prayer."
Yes. It has happened. Maybe you didn’t go completely comatose or wake up on the floor of the church sanctuary, but I’m certain many of us have either a) dozed off or b) paid so little attention we might as well have in prayer. Are we just exhausted from whatever pastime kept us up the night before? Or are we so distracted, we can’t keep our heads straight for a short few minutes of prayer? Regardless, there’s a reason we’re bored or tired during prayer. And that boredom is worth examining.
3. “Has anyone ever read the book of Zephaniah?”
Look, unless you’re in seminary, there are books of the Bible we’re barely even aware exist. Yet when we waltz into church and pat ourselves on the back for bringing our Bible with us, we pretend we know where everything is—passing over the Table of Contents like it’s amateur hour. Yet half the time, most of us don’t even know where we’re looking when it comes to those minor prophets housed deep within the Old Testament. We’re thumbing through books we’ve never read, pages we’ve never even touched. So I have to wonder: Perhaps it’s okay that we own up? I bet we’d find that others are willing to, as well.
4. “Church was really, really boring today.”
No one ever says this when they leave church, even though I know people think it sometimes. Church, with all its engaging moments and opportunities for fellowship, can be extraordinarily dull at times. Whether it’s the teaching, the density of the sermon or just a lengthy singalong, these monotonous moments happen. But just like with school, the days we learned the most in history class may have been the most tedious. So I have to look back and wonder about the days when I’ve been exceptionally bored in church: Were those the days I could have potentially learned the most?
5. “I loved The DaVinci Code.”
Dude, just because I read the book does not mean I believe it. And just because I read until my eyes bled doesn’t mean I’m preaching its truth. There’s a strange nervousness among Christians that keeps people from discussing "controversial" religious fiction—especially when someone actually enjoys one of these books. Can’t we take them for what they’re worth and discuss them like we would any piece of literature? Listen, I didn’t say it was the 5th Gospel.
6. “Have you guys been to that new bar?”
What is with Christian society’s inability to discuss alcohol? I’m not proposing we all go re-create scenes from The Hangover after church or anything, but fermented beverages seem to be such an overly taboo topic—unless they’re being condemned. In and around the church, alcohol is almost always coupled with a negative sentiment, and it is rarely discussed casually, talked about honestly or proposed as an included part of a social gathering. Yet the most unmentionable issues are the issues within which we often have the most room to mature.
7. “I’m probably going to forget to pray about that.”
We all know this happens. Someone asks you to pray for something; you nod, you write it down, maybe you even tuck it into the corner of your brain. And you forget. Even when they tell you about it, you know you’re going to forget because you’re thinking about how atrocious The Pauly D Project was last night or how you forgot to special order your favorite cereal on the Internet. So, what if we nod and, instead, share our distraction? That our mind is in another place and that we want to remember and can someone please help us do that? This search for accountability might lead us places we never thought we’d be.
8. “I have no idea what any of this means.”
Have you ever tried to plow your way through some of the heavy words of the Old Testament? Or even some of history’s most-read apologetics? I’ll admit I never made it through Mere Christianity due to the philosophical musings that flew over my head. I’d be willing to say it’s through these confusions and questions that we can potentially learn the most. However, it’s intimidating to voice these thoughts, especially to those who seem undaunted by the most puzzling parts of Scripture. I wonder what kind of relationships we might cultivate in a space where it becomes acceptable and encouraged to admit when the muddled words of Scripture are nothing more than a foreign language on a page.
And whether it’s voicing the troubling thoughts that are really on your min, or breaching the topics often considered too unmentionable to openly discuss, the stuff we don’t say as Christians can be just as life-altering as the stuff we do.