Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don't Get In My Way

It's our first week of summer, and I am so glad to have my kids home!  There is a small bit of funny tension, though, in waiting for the "it's all fun and games until..." 

In this case, it was "It's all fun and games until someone dumps an entire pitcher of lemonade on the countertops all over our important summer forms, the camera and work papers." Sarah began to explain what happened while trying to clean her mess.  Everything she did made it worse.  Abby and Cooper scattered after torturing her a little.  

I made sure that Sarah knew how frustrated I was even though it was clearly not her fault.  She got in the way of my plans (which was to not clean up lemonade).  I barked a few orders, and we cleaned up the mess together.  I didn't let her off the hook, and she went off into the other room.

While I was making lunch, I was reminded of something Chris and I learned early in marriage -- to tell each other I'm not mad or frustrated with you, just the situation.  Now, this works well for our personalities.  When we're in traffic, and people are in my way, I can easily tell Chris that I'm not mad at him but the idiots around me.  Sarah has a personality similar to Chris', so I thought maybe I should share these sentiments with her.

But, it occurred to me, what if I'm just trying to let myself off the hook?  What if I'm trying to excuse my sin and be the good guy here?  What if we use this psycho-babble to cover over the condition of our hearts?  What if I wasn't frustrated about the lemonade but my true frustration was with Sarah?

If that is the case, what's required is repentance.  What's required is an apology for my reaction to the accident.  Repentance is required because the issue is with my heart.  How?  Conflict arises when I am so ruled by my desires that if you get in my way, I will be angry, frustrated and impatient.  You will only be beneficial to me if you are helping me get what I want. I wanted to make lunch.  Sarah got in my way.  I can blame the lemonade (situation), but it didn't pour itself.  I was frustrated with Sarah, not the situation.  Who gets in your way?

The opposite of that is being ruled by the Spirit.  When conflict arises, I will be slow to anger, compliant and patient, not ruled by my desires to get what I want by using those around me, including my children.

I walked into the room and she said, "I'm sorry."  I apologized for my lack of patience, and she said, "I accept your apology."  I have to be honest, I still wanted to defend myself, but I mostly wanted to cry.  

This won't be the only summer day we have a "spill." This won't be the only day I respond with fleshly desires.  Hopefully, I will take responsibility for them each time just as I'm teaching them to take responsibility.  And, dads, be sure to put the lids on the lemonade.  I'm pretty sure it was his fault.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Am Everything But Okay / Part 6

There are times we want to give in to despair.  Sometimes discouragement drains our energy.  We may be far past our ability to endure.  Our outlook may seem hopeless.

Following the admittance of the affair, there were many sleepless nights, days of choking down food and questions of whether or not our marriage could survive.  All of these were dimmed by the God who met us in the middle of our situation.  Chris and I didn't overcome an affair because of our hard work but as Paul David Tripp says, "God extends his grace to me because I am everything but okay."  We needed grace in our marriage then, and we continually need grace in our marriage now.  We needed people to help in our marriage then, and we continually need people to help in our marriage now.

We felt past our ability to endure, but God was with us in our suffering.  He's not standing on the outside watching to see how we'll do or on the sidelines cheering half-heartedly.  He is in it with us.  He gives us the grace to endure.  He provides help in others.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Pasta Salad

Rotini Pasta
Cucumbers (seeded)
Grape Tomatoes
Green Onions
Canola Oil

Boil pasta according to directions.  Add salt to the water.  Drain pasta. Rinse with cold water. In a bowl. Mix mayonnaise with canola oil.  Add all ingredients with vegetables chopped to desired size.  The amount of mayonnaise and oil used is based on preference, but be sure to use enough to keep salad from drying out.

This is great for a summer side.  Serve with grilled chicken or burgers.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Through An Affair, We Got More / Part 5

Going into marriage, Chris and I will tell you we were both looking for very different things.  We didn’t know it at the time.  We thought we were looking in the same direction.  It all looked the same on the surface.  Chris is a dreamer.  He wanted a wife, kids, golden retriever, a house and a church family.  He thought if everyone wore smiles it meant they were happy.  I, too, wanted the kids, house, etc., but I didn’t expect it to be easy.  I just assumed we would communicate and work our way through everything.  

So, during the affair, we continued on with our own plans.  Chris just wanted it to end.  He wanted it to end on his terms.  His terms were to walk away and take it to his grave without me ever knowing.  And, I still wanted a husband to communicate with me.  But, God wanted something more for us.  He always wants something bigger than we can fit in our box.  If Chris had just gotten out of an affair, and I had gotten better communication, we would have been sold short.  But, God gave us much more by giving us Himself.  He opened our eyes to Him in a way we had never seen.  

Sometimes we look to God because we want something when what we really need is Him.  In writing these blogs about the affair, I’ve been in conflict over those whose hearts are breaking over an affair.  I know our story doesn’t offer much solace for those who have no restoration.  What can be said to heal a heart that has no resolution?  Where can you go when your spouse doesn’t want to restore the marriage?  You may not get a marriage that is healed.  You may not get a repentant husband/wife. You may not get the communication you’re looking for.  But, you may get God.  And, that’s all you need.  He is enough for the hurting.  He is enough for the broken.  He is enough for the sleepless.  He heals.  He redeems.  He saves.  

How do we get God?  There is no formula.  What’s needed is repentance, submission, faith, falling on our faces acknowledging our need for a Savior. 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Breaking the Silence of Sexual Abuse

When I was in 5th grade, a neighborhood friend and classmate told me her stepfather was sexually abusing her.  I told my parents, they called the authorities, and she was taken from her home.  She lived in my home for a couple of months until she was put into a foster home and then adopted by an aunt.  I've never forgotten the images of what he did to her, maybe too much for a 5th grader to know.  My heart has always been sensitive toward victims of sexual abuse, but recently, I've read two books that have made me stand guard again.  That's how we should always be - standing guard for victims, defending the defenseless.  You can read the review of the first book I read here.

The second book I read is Hush by Nicole Bromley.  This book is an incredible help for how to help victims of sexual abuse, but it provides information and education that we all need to know.    Those of us who have children and are around children need to be educated and aware.  I know we cannot be paranoid adults, but when I walk into my children's school, it reminds me to be more sensitive to the little hearts around me.

Nicole is transparent in sharing her story not only from childhood but into adulthood and how it affects her today.  She teaches survivors how to dispel the lies they have always believed and models restoration through forgiveness and the freedom of sharing her story.  

Many times we are told to hide our stories.  They're embarrassing to the family (according to the book, this is very typical for victims of sexual abuse victims), people won't look at you the same, you will look weak.  In my own life, I have found that great healing comes from sharing.  It's when I am isolated that I'm suffocating.  Isolation is a tool of satan to makes us feel like we are the only ones dealing with something.  It makes us feel helpless so we stay in the pit we're in longer.  Great freedom comes in sharing.  Great healing comes in sharing.  Great fellowship comes in sharing.

Nicole says, "...we have to show people our emotional scars -- not because we think they're cool, but because of the glory the healing brings to God and the hope it brings others that their wounds will heal as well."  Chris and I have been sharing our story lately for similar reasons.  Nicole sites 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 as her purpose and encourages victims to 

"Speak truth to those who believe the lies you once believed.  Comfort those who mourn, as you once mourned so deeply.  Tell others that it wasn't their fault, just as you once needed to hear those words over and over again.  Offer your compassion, just as you have received compassion."

You can find Hush here.  And, you can find Nicole at www.onevoiceenterprises.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Capacity to Love Like God

Last night, Tim Keller was in town, again.  I know there is nothing but rebuke for those of us who were not in attendance.  We had Bible study in our home for young adults, so hopefully, we can be forgiven.  Believe it or not, I learned something critical out from under his teaching.  A major insight came full circle for me this morning (after our study last night). But, I do have to say it originally started with the teaching of Tim Keller just over a year ago.

I struggle with the fear of losing my children.  When I heard Keller speak in Memphis last year, he said we are anxious because we love things, people, etc. more than we love God.  I was overwhelmed with conviction and have repented many times over since then because my children are my idol.  I previously blogged about this.  http://theacufffamily.blogspot.com/2011/01/struggling-with-fear.html

Last night we were studying from The Gospel-Centered Life, and this is when the above meditations came full circle for me:

...It is through the gospel that God sends his indwelling Holy Spirit into us, transforming our hearts and enabling us to truly love God and others.  As a result of our justification by faith, "God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us" (Rom. 5:5). We commonly read the phrase "the love of God" in this verse as God's love for us.  But contextually and linguistically this phrase also has the sense of "love from God" or "love for God." Because God loves us, he has poured into our hearts his own capacity to love and delight in himself.  Jesus prayed that the very love that God the Father has for his Son would be in us:  "I have made you known to them...in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them" (John 17:26). The Gospel-Centered Life
(Underline and bold emphasis mine)

So, these are my thoughts:  I fear when I love my children (and other things or people) more than I love God.  My desire is to love God more.  It is a struggle daily.  But, knowing that God has given me His own capacity to love Him by the Holy Spirit is incredible!  We can't will ourselves to love him more.  We can't "do" enough, but He has given himself to us to love him more in the same way he loves us.  He loves us enough to make us delight in Him.  Mind-boggling. That we have that capacity to love Him is mind-boggling to me!  We should never fear again. That is full-circle. And so begins the cycle...

Monday, May 16, 2011

How Could You Forgive an Affair / Part 4

Forgiveness is difficult for me to talk about, mostly because I'm not sure I'm capable of communicating my feelings appropriately, and I don't know if my thoughts are even accurate.  I do know that I can rely on the authority of scripture in this matter, and that is where I continue to turn.

The night I found out about the affair, I told Chris I forgave him, and I believe I continued to forgive him over a series a months.  It seemed to come with little effort, either because of God's aggressive grace or Chris' repentance and lack of reoccurring offenses.  I would say both (even though only one is needed -- the grace).  I know many may not be able to relate to this part of our story, but this is our story.  There were plenty of other things that did not come with little effort.

Another reason I was able to forgive is because it could have been me.  I could have been the one to have an affair.  If this shocks you, don't let it because it could be you, too!  The reason we are so shocked by another's sin is because we refuse to see the depth of our own.  There were a few who sat across the room from Chris and showed disbelief and shock when he confessed (not that they shouldn't have) but amidst some of those looks was judgement, a look of I would never do that!  But, I will never forget the friend who met Chris at the doors of our church, wrapped her arms around him and confessed, Chris, it could have been any of us.  Oh, that we would see the sin of others in our own lives. We are all one step away from the most gruesome of sin if it weren't for the grace of God.  It could have been me.  That's why I forgave.

Forgiveness did not mean saying what Chris did was okay.  It meant releasing him to God for God to deal with his heart.  I wasn't "letting him off the hook" when I forgave because I'm not his judge.  Justin Holcomb says, "If you don't forgive, you are usurping God's authority to act as judge." It released me from authority that wasn't mine to begin with and kept a root of bitterness from growing.

I want to be forgiven.  Matthew 6:14-15 says, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."  Isn't it so true that we want mercy and forgiveness for ourselves and wrath and judgement for others?  I hope to grow to a point where I want the same grace, mercy, compassion and forgiveness for others that I want for myself.

The very prayer that teaches you to ask for mercy bids you say "forgive us, as we forgive our debtors." Unless you have forgiven others you read your own death-warrant when you repeat the Lord's prayer. -Spurgeon

I have been forgiven.  Who is this, who even forgives sins? (Luke 7:49)  This is who Jesus is.  I want to be like that, but, also, how can I not respond to what has been done for me?  I know what it is to offend others, namely Christ.  I know what it is to be in need of forgiveness.  I've worn the name of shame and rebuke and orphan and wretched and embarrassment.  I didn't deserve to be forgiven.  I don't deserve to be called righteous and blameless, but a man stood in my place and took my wrath so that I am forgiven.  How then, could I choose not to forgive?  Am I above doing what Christ humbled himself to do? 

I understand forgiveness does not always come easy.  (Sidenote:  I have kids.  It is a lot "easier" to forgive when you hurt me.  My new motto is Live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of your Mama Bear.  I get that's it hard).  I believe it comes with daily dying to self.  I believe it is the work of Christ in our lives.  That is the joy -- knowing that we are forgiving because the Holy Spirit is working in us.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How Could You Have an Affair? / Part 3

Early on in the counseling process we were encouraged to identify how the affair happened.  What was going with me (Chris) personally and in our marriage at the time? What was I thinking? What was life like?  In some ways we'll never completely understand.  There are some things that were so irrational that I simply don't have a good explanation.  But it did help us to try and understand.  Understanding helped us to move forward primarily because it helped us to know what to look for. The things to guard against.  Not necessarily that I would stumble in the same way again, but that we could identify the unhealthy patterns that I have a tendency to follow.

There are many obvious reasons-- temptation, stupidity, arrogance, etc.  But these are a few that stand out above the rest:

Sin - The first and most obvious reason is sin.  I'm a sinner.  Sin dwells within me.  Given the right circumstances and opportunity sin will manifest itself in ways we'd never dream.  You can't swear yourself away from sin or "bootstrap" your way out of it.  I was operating outside of the ways of God, not living submissively to the Holy Spirit's leading and allowing the desires of my flesh to play out. When I'm living that way, this (and much worse) is what I am capable of.  I gave sin an opportunity to manifest itself.  Once it did, I gave myself over to my flesh.  I did things I swore I'd never do and others that I never imagined.  I invented ways to lie and be unfaithful.  And when I decided that I was done, I couldn't get out. I couldn't turn back.  That's what sin looks like and that's why I need a Savior. 
15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15-25)

Lack of judgement -   I continually, over the course of that year, made bad decision after bad decision and showed a serious lack of judgement.  I previously would have considered myself to be fairly mature and wise for my years.  However, in that season, I made decisions without considering consequences.  I followed my own selfish desires and didn't step back to count the costs or effects. I ignored the things I did see coming and was blind to the things that I should have seen. I allowed sin to lead me around like an animal.  One of my more memorable days in counseling was when our counselor stated in his own way that I just wasn't very smart.  He had determined that I wasn't an addict or that it wasn't that I didn't love my wife, but that I was simply foolish.  He was right.  What I did was immature and just plain stupid. My stupidity was my downfall.  I'm embarrassed by this whole story but the simplicity of this is one thing is what gets me the most -- If only I had used better judgement, none of this would have happened. 

He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.
Proverbs 6:32 

People-Pleasing - I really struggle with the idol of approval.  Since I was a teenager, I've struggled with being self-conscious, self-loathing and overly needy of the approval and affirmation of others.   When not held in check, these struggles can control the motivation for my actions and pursuits, often striving for the approval of certain people.  But the flip side is just as damaging. I have a tendency to take everything in a negative way. This is a dangerous and unhealthy way to live and something that God has given me tremendous healing from in recent years. However, I was a different person back then.  Marriage and parenthood were proving to be much harder than the idealistic view I had carried.  Pressures of a young family were mounting and I took my wife's every word and every cry of my children as confirmation that I was a failure.  A perfect storm was brewing.  I was a sinner with a serious lack of judgement and desperate for attention and words of affirmation, receiving attention and flattery from someone other than my wife. This was a dangerous combination and it did not end well.

Lack of boundaries at work - Early in our marriage, Suzanne and I strived to have healthy boundaries at home as well as our other relationships.  We'd been encouraged not to be alone with someone of the opposite sex and to guard our relationships closely.  In general we tried to avoid dangerous situations.  In hind sight this was probably more so for the sake of appearance.  At that point in our marriage, I'm not sure we would have believed or been honest about what we might be capable of.   In the months leading to the affair, I completely ignored those boundaries at work.  Too much time spent around someone led to talking to her too much.  It began as casual/surface conversation but over time led to deeper more intimate conversation that I had no business engaging in.  Eventually breaking those initial boundaries led to breaking others.  If I had only stayed within the boundaries, I would have never given opportunity for my sin, lack of judgement or desire for approval to play out into an affair.  That's what the boundaries were there for in the first place.

As I said earlier, I don't have all of the answers and there is obviously much more to our story.  But these points are the main answers to the question of how could you.  Let me be clear that I accept full responsibility for what I did.  None of these things excuse any of my actions nor do I mean for them to be excuses.  But they have given some comfort in knowing where it came from, and understanding these things has played a large part in rebuilding and restoring our marriage.

"Always be killing sin or it will always be killing you."  John Owen

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why Share? / Part 2

In the days and weeks following the revelation of the affair, Chris and I sat down with friends and family many times for him to confess what had been going on.  We did this for a few reasons:  One, Chris was immediately repentant and following that repentance came confession.  He felt he had a responsibility to share with certain people.  Secondly, I needed him to share.  I needed him to share for accountability, to let people into our lives so that we could never be that isolated again.  Thirdly, and this may be difficult to understand, there was something healing for me about hearing Chris confess his sin.  It made me love and trust him more.  It made me look upon him with respect and admiration even though I had been offended.  It made the affair real, and I needed it to be completely real so I could deal with it completely.

In the years following the affair, Chris and I have met with numerous couples.  We've met for different reasons.  Some come for guidance, some for pre-marital counseling and some for help in dealing with a tragedy (like an affair).  We've been able to use our pain to help others.  We believe that transparency fosters transparency. When we are honest about our struggles, others are more likely to share theirs.  In the early days of dealing with the affair, we felt a tremendous amount of God's grace and promised we wouldn't be selfish and keep it to ourselves.  Everyone should benefit from what He's done for us.

To this day we continue to share our story because it is still needed.  I suppose we'll stop when all marriages are healed.

But, really, this isn't about us or confession or accountability or healing marriages.  I have watched a man over eight years stand before hundreds of people and share something he doesn't have to for one reason -- the good name of Jesus!  Not for himself.  Why would he do that?  What does he have to gain?  Nothing but shame and rebuke.  But, when Christ so works in our lives and sets us free, we can't keep it to ourselves.

"... So that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel." Matt. 15:31
"Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, 'He told me all that I ever did.'" John 4:39  

Our hope is that because we have have been healed and our marriage has been restored by the only One who heals and restores that eyes and lives will be turned toward Him.  This is why we share.  We share because it's not about us.  We share to "proclaim throughout the whole city how much Jesus has done for us."

Monday, May 9, 2011

An Affair and Two Reminders / Part 1

Friday, May 9th, 2003. Most things about that day and the events of the months leading up to it are a blur. I (Chris) don't remember what the weather was like on the golf course, or who was on my team, or what exactly was said in the argument that I got into. But there are two things that I do remember vividly:  the look on my wife's face when she found out that I'd been having an affair and the words that she said to me at the end of that night. As I think about it, these two things are so defining that they are possibly the only things worth remembering.
It was that night that I was forced to admit my secret. For the better part of the previous year, I had been having an affair with a co-worker.  An argument led the other woman to force the issue and create a situation where the truth had to come out.  I was frantic and dazed. All of the lies that I had been weaving for nearly a year were coming unraveled in a matter of minutes. My worst fears were coming true.  I was determined that I was going to take my secret to the grave with me.  But now, all of a sudden, I had to say it.  I had to say the words that I had hardly even said to myself. I had been living in such a delusional state that even a part of me was surprised to hear the words. But the look on my wife's face defined the seriousness of what I had done. It's hard to remember everything that happened after that.  I know that I tried to hang on to information as best I could.  I tried to spin and downplay everything.  I don't know what I was trying to hide at that point, but I was still trying. Over the days and weeks that followed, the truth all came out. It was horrible. It was ugly.  And for months we lived under a cloud that we could never envision lifting.
The second thing I remember was something that Suzanne said.  At some point during that night (which never really ended), Suzanne stopped and expressed that "we can make it through this." There was no explanation for those words at the time. I knew she wanted to kill me.  Frankly, I wanted to kill me.  But in the midst of anger, confusion, fear, and a host of other emotions, she expressed grace. It was like someone giving a taste of water to a man dying of thirst.  In that moment, I couldn't see getting to the end of that horrible night, much less any thought of restoration.  But that one sentence gave me hope. It reminded me of what was real.  It reminded me of the woman of God that I was dealing with. It was a small part of goodness of what was otherwise a horrible experience. Looking back, it defined so much of what was to come; It was a glimpse of the grace and forgiveness that Suzanne would show me and continue to show to this day.  God was there with us that night, and He gave us a quick glimpse of what He was going to do.
In the days that followed, we had incredibly difficult conversations with family members and friends.  I quit my job and had to tell my employers why (not before having another job - story to come later). I had to distance myself from people and habits that I had grown accustomed to. Life as I knew it would literally never be the same.  But God immediately began making a path for us through people and circumstances. For the better part of the next year, we went through an amazing process of restoration and growth that we never thought possible.
There's obviously so much more to the story, but I'm reminded often of those two things.  When I think of myself more highly than I should, or when I judge others too harshly - I'm reminded of that look on Suzanne's face. A look that reminds me of my guilt and the depth of my sin.  And when I fall into the mode of questioning God's love for me, I'm reminded of the face of a wife who stuck with me - an experience where God showed up for me when I was the least deserving of it.  I swore my whole life that I'd never do this, but when it came down to it, I couldn't will myself to stop. I'd do anything for this to not be my story, but I wouldn't trade what He has taught me. It was during that season that everything changed. I suddenly understood grace because I finally saw how much I needed it. It no longer looked mystical or academic. It looked like a wife who was rooted in the gospel. There are countless other reminders of God's mercy, love and provision during that season of our life.  But these two memories are my own sort of Ebenezers that point me to the Cross -- where Christ's death was more than sufficient to pay for even the worst of my sins and where His grace was poured out even for those of us who are the least deserving of it.
As I write this I'm reminded that confession of my sin produces anger and disappointment in others.  It did eight years ago and I'm sure it will today.  To be honest, I struggle with wanting to be defensive, to point to how much time has passed and how much I have changed.  But I'm quickly reminded of the truth. What I did was horrible, and it should produce anger and disappointment.   I can't cover over it.  My sin has consequences.  Some are long over with, and some may never disappear.  But this isn't about me. It's about the One who stands at my defense. The only One who could resurrect what I tried so hard to kill. The only One who could redirect a life gone so terribly astray. The only One who could pour out blessings in the midst of tragedy. The only One who can restore and redeem.
 Over the next days and weeks, Suzanne and I will explain more of our story, answering questions that deal with sin, forgiveness and why we have felt compelled to share our story so many times over the past eight years.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Do Not Envy Me/Facebook Envy

Recently, I heard someone mention the words "Facebook" and "envy" together, and I laughed, but over time, past conversations came flooding into my mind, and I realized there may be some truth to what they were saying.  Then, I found this article:

Facebook is the perfect place to wear a perfect mask.  It is a place for people to pretend they have it all together.  Typically, when Chris and I are meeting with a couple whose marriage is in trouble, they are the ones professing their love to each other openly on Facebook.  When someone passes a test, they announce it on Facebook.  Do you know that many of those people may have failed that very same test twice before they finally passed?  How many proclaim the amount of weight they have lost on Facebook?  Maybe I'm wrong, but I haven't seen anyone post a 20lb weight gain (unless its their baby who just went to the doctor - guess what? no one cares).  Someone once told me how photogenic I am (based on my Facebook pictures).  My response, You know I choose the pictures I put up, right?  Did you think I would choose this one for my profile picture?

I also have a friend who thinks my house is always clean.  Kelly, these are for you...
Trash from my floor and sofa on a good day

In all seriousness, I recently heard of a mother in town who lost her one year old baby.  She had to remove herself from Facebook because it was too much to see all of the "perfect" lives.  She thought she was the only one struggling with tragedy.  The truth is, we are all struggling.  Are we willing to let people see the truth of who we are? (Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying Facebook is the appropriate avenue to share our struggles).  Do we confess our sins to one another as Scripture commands?  When we're harsh with our children, do others know?  Do others know when our marriage is failing?  Do we let people in when our house is dirty?  Will we humble ourselves and let others help when we're falling apart?

We can always find someone "better" than we are or "worse" than we are by human standards, but our goal is never to compare ourselves to others (by looking at Facebook or anywhere else).  We compare ourselves to the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  For, it is in comparing ourselves to perfection that we see our need for a Savior.