I was raised in sweet-tea country. Where lips drip with honey even when they’re spewing hatred. A place where “bless your heart” hardly ever means a blessing. A place where most people say, “I’m going to pray for you” only as a spiteful ending to a venomous argument, right before they stomp away from you.
I was raised to be polite by polite-to-your-face people. It was not an open or honest place to live. So being polite means very little to me after growing up in sweat-tea country. Polite is how you treat people that you don’t know, don’t want to know or don’t like. It’s a cold exterior that lets others know they are not welcome here. It’s a brick wall around a heart that refuses to let anyone in or get close.
It took a long time and a devastating event for me to learn how to stop being polite and how to start being authentic and honest. It’s funny how when your world turns to shit, you just really don’t care about being polite or pretending like everything’s OK. All you want is for the pain to stop. Nothing really seems to help. No polite prayers bring relief because they deny the reality of suffering. But screaming obscenities at God was a good place to start, for me. (It was a really bad event, and I was super angry and confused.)
I know a LOT of people who say you can’t “rage” at God or yell or scream or cuss at Him. It’s not “respectful,” apparently. But that begs the question, is it “respectful” to lie to God’s face about what He already knows is in your heart? Is withholding the truth about what you think and feel about Him “respectful?” Is it? I don’t think so.
And besides if God can’t handle my anger and pain and questions, then who can? Who is bigger than God? Where is a human being that will walk with me through years that stretch into decades of processing what the devil’s done to me at the hands of human beings? Where is the person that can listen as I pour out the seemingly endless pain in my soul day in and day out?
I only see my therapist for 50 minutes a week. That’s all she can handle. She’s only human. She is a great therapist, and I thank God for her, but she’s only human. She has other clients, her own life and her own issues. She can only help me with so much. She can only give me so much of her time. But God, He’s limitless in so many ways, including His capacity to be with me and listen any time I want to talk. He’s eternal for crying out loud so, He’s got more than enough time for me.
God can take anything that I give to Him or throw at Him or yell at Him. He actually wants to hear my voice, no matter what I’m saying or how I’m saying it. He knows my pain and my heart better than I do. He wants to heal me more than I want to be healed. So, why would I keep Him at arm’s length by hiding behind a lying mask of politeness?
Let me tell you something: He’s better than you think. He’s bigger than you think, too. He won’t force you to take off your mask and stop being polite. He’ll wait for when you’re ready to do that of your own free will. Then, like always, He’ll listen for as long as you want to talk. I dare you to give Him a chance to help you, to be with you in the depths of your issues and to comfort you in a way that no human being can. I dare you to talk to Him as if nothing you could do would ever drive Him away or separate you from His love.
I’ve learned that being polite is being insincere in relationship, with God and with others. Being polite was what was keeping me from entering into authentic connection and experiencing honest belonging. Being impolite, meaning honest and sincere, lets people know who I truly am, what my limits and boundaries are and what my weaknesses are. It’s being vulnerable and that part does still scare the crap out of me. But at least with God, I’m not scared of being vulnerable. With Him, I’m unafraid to be impolite, to argue, to debate and discuss. Those are some of the best conversations I’ve ever had and some of the greatest revelations I’ve received of Who He Is.
The Lord is close the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). I didn’t really know who God was until I reached out to Him when I was brokenhearted and felt crushed by the weight of what I was going through. I found out that there is a garden in the middle of the storm that cannot be accessed or experienced in any other way than by inviting God into the storm with me. That garden is more peaceful and wonderful than I ever could have imagined, even in the midst of a raging storm.
I challenge you to not be afraid of the storms. Be impolite and cry out to God. See what happens. What do you have to lose – a mask that can’t give you peace or hold you in the storm or sing over you while you sleep? He’s waiting for you. What are you waiting for?