Pete Kuiper recommends the new book, No More Faking Fine, authored by one of our alumni, Esther Fleece.
Esther Fleece is an international speaker and writer recognized among Christianity Today’s “Top 50 Women Shaping the Church and Culture” and CNN’s “Five Women in Religion to Watch.” Esther shares her story in her first book, No More Faking Fine: Ending The Pretending.
The following is blog post written by Esther:
The first time I arrived in Buena Vista, Colorado I was there to support a friend who was on the brink of divorce. It had been revealed that her husband, a Pastor at the time, was having an affair and wanted to leave his family for another woman. I was devastated for my friend, and was certainly hoping that my presence would offer encouragement to her to not give up in this painful life.
As I sat for an hour and listened to the teaching by Pete Kuiper, tears welled up in my eyes. Pete was teaching from the book of Hosea and asking us to uncover childhood wounds. I had never heard teaching about childhood trauma before. And even if I had, why could I not hold myself together? Wasn’t I there to support my friend? I felt embarrassed and self-centered when I could not keep the tears from falling.
Little did I know that just six months later God would have me go through that classroom experience, this time for myself. Pete Kuiper and Crossroads Counseling stepped into my life at a critical time. In my late twenties I thought I was “fine” and called an “overcomer” by many in the Christian community. I believed spiritual health meant leaving my past in the past.
I was wrong.
Pete introduced me to language of lament, and for the first time I let my honest cries out in his counseling office. Opening up to Pete helped me to trust people again, and also showed me that I could also open up to God. My first book: No More Faking Fine: Ending The Pretending, invites readers to do the same.
It was with great joy that part of this book’s dedication is to Pete Kuiper. I now teach, “only the strong go to counseling.” But bless you, counselors, for teaching us what real strength is.
Below is an excerpt from No More Faking Fine. Used with Permission from Zondervan.
I don’t see many easy-street lives in the Bible. And I certainly don’t see God demanding that we keep a stiff upper lip through hard times.
In fact, D. A. Carson, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, writes, “There is no attempt in Scripture to whitewash the anguish of God’s people when they undergo suffering. They argue with God, they complain to God, they weep before God. Theirs is not a faith that leads to dry-eyed stoicism, but to a faith so robust it wrestles with God.”
So where do all the clichés and false hopes we use to explain suffering come from? Not the Bible, and certainly not from God Himself. My insistence that I have a nice, easy, “fine” life was not only unbiblical; it was also an unrealistic expectation that ended up making me feel disengaged from God and disappointed in Him. I thought I was suffering because I had done something wrong. I had fallen for clichés, which only increased my pain.
For so much of my life, I thought sucking it up and faking away the pain showed true strength. But real strength is identifying a wound and asking God to enter it. We are robbing ourselves of a divine mystery and a divine intimacy when we pretend to have it all together. In fact, we lose an entire vocabulary from our prayers when we silence the reality of our pain. If questions and cries and laments are not cleaned up throughout Scripture, then why are we cleaning them up or removing them completely from our language?
Scripture doesn’t tell us to pretend we’re peaceful when we’re not, act like everything is fine when it’s not, and do everything we can to suppress our sorrow. God doesn’t insist that we go to our “happy place” and ignore our sad, yet so many of our churches preach that we will have peace and prosperity just by virtue of being Christians. Scripture, in contrast, tells us that as followers of Christ, we are called to serve a “man of sorrows” who died a gruesome death. Until we identify ourselves with our Savior and acknowledge, as He did, just how painful life can be, we won’t be able to lament or to overcome. And if we silence our own cries, then we will inevitably silence the cries of those around us. We cannot carefully address the wounds of others if we are carelessly addressing our own.
The fact is, God does not expect us to have it all together, so it is a real disservice when our Christian communities create this expectation. We will be unsuccessful at sitting with hurting people if we have not allowed ourselves to grieve and wail and mourn and go through the lament process ourselves. God understands that life is full of pressures, hurts, stings. He took on flesh so He could relate to us in both our joy and pain. He wants us to feel and express every emotion before Him and not minimize a thing. There is no “fake it till you make it” in Scripture. When we fake fine, we fake our way out of authentic relationship with
God, others, and ourselves.
Stay in touch with Esther Fleece and share your own lament on her website at www.estherfleece.com.