I think one of the biggest harm to the Christian cause is duplicity.
Personally, I can't STAND it. It irks me to no end in any way shape or form. I don't tolerate duplicity or excuse it. Some people justify it by implying that your church life, your home life, and your work life are separate. I disagree! Who you are and how you treat people should be the same all the time.
I know how painful it is to children when their parents act one way with them in public and a completely different way in private. And I've seen it happen to both ends; the parents that are affectionate at home but distant at church, and the parents that are affectionate in the grocery store but cold at home. I decided I don't want to put my kids through that.
It goes further than how you act. A lot of people get uncomfortable with how you FEEL. It seems that, specially if you are a "Christian", expressing anger, frustration, or hopelessness is inappropriate. No one would deny that you can experience these emotions regardless of where you are in your faith, yet demonstrating these emotions to the "public" seems to be an act of faithlessness in and of itself!
I don't like stuffing how I feel. Those emotions bind to you so hard when you keep it inside... and they grow like weeds. I'm struggling with unforgiveness from my childhood due mainly to the fact that during these times I couldn't express my anger and my frustration then! And it plagues me now. Oh how I would've loved to just let it out, have dealt with it then, and moved on!
So now I don't want to keep locking in more stuff.... I've enjoyed just venting on my blogs and on facebook in a sort of uncensored manner.
I've been angry lately. I despair a lot. Worry gives me insomnia, insomnia makes me cranky during the day, crankiness makes me angry at everything that goes wrong. It's a vicious cycle that I have no power to break on my own. Not that it justifies me being rude or mean at home or at work - because it doesn't; I still owe everyone the same kindness, gentleness, and love as if I felt great and happy. But it's a rut I'm learning to crawl out of and I think it's only fair that everyone be warned.
I express my emotions to my kids. They may be too young to understand the whys or hows, but they definitely get, "Mommy is sad right now". Or "Mommy is mad". Sometimes they try to fix it. Most times they give me hugs (and apologies if required). I always try to tell them why I'm upset/sad, or at least that it isn't their fault and they didn't do anything for me to behave this way. And the odd thing is, this helps so much! Because they help me more, and I'm not taking it out on them. Even saying it out loud: "Mommy is having a bad day. It's not your fault, I just need a few minutes." I audibly remind myself not to be snappy at them or easily agitated... "It's not your fault..." I remember the source of my crankiness and I can separate myself from it and just be "Mom" to the kids. I want them to always know they can express what they feel - and that they won't be penalized for their feelings, only held accountable for their actions.
I never was one to keep secrets in the first place. I don't even enjoy friendships loaded with secrecy, I'd rather be on my own! That goes for myself too.
But the truth is that there is a testimony to the rest of the world in being an open letter. Because if in my despair, in my lack of faith, I suddenly find myself encouraged, the world can see and know that it wasn't due to any of my virtues but only because of my God. He is glorified when it's obvious and apparent that He is the Source, and not anything I can find or accomplish. And the reality is that it isn't "Maria is optimistic" but rather, "Maria has hope thanks to Christ." It's not "Maria is cheerful" but rather, "The joy of the Lord is Maria's strength". It's never been "Maria can handle it", but always "Maria can do all things only through Christ who gives her strength"...
People may disagree, but I'm finding that in my weakness, in my ugliest, and in my worst, the Cross has never been more desirable! How appealing redemption has become for me! How much more I appreciate Jesus taking my place on the cross, giving me a right standing with God that I don't deserve or can ever achieve on my own. Oh how I depend on His fellowship, His grace, and His mercy for healing while I walk through this valley! How much freedom I am experiencing as I open myself up and find that He loves me as I am now - and not based on what I'm supposed to be!