A friend once told how he gave his TV away; he didn’t want one anymore. It was a spiritual act, a voluntary fast from television and the distractions it provided, in order to give him more time for God and family. He reveled in his decision and had no plans to ever own a TV again.
I admired his fortitude and wished I could do the same. But I could not. Surely he was more spiritual than I.
Imagine my surprise a few years later when I learned he again owned a TV. I asked why. He dismissed my confusion with a wave of his hand and a mumbled explanation that reframed his original intent. He had been quick to share his spiritual prowess but silent over his retreat.
Yet before I criticize him, let me admit to doing the same thing.
I once heard the reason there’s satanic activity at night is because Christians aren’t praying. I decided to do something about it. When I’d wake up in the middle of the night (a regular occurrence), I decided to spend an hour praying and then go back to sleep.
The first night was a powerful experience, lasting well beyond an hour; the first week was good, too, but not as great. Excited, I told my friends about my nighttime prayers, encouraging them to do the same. They shook their heads in dismay.
However, after two weeks, my hour of nighttime prayer had become a struggle. Twenty-five days later I could no longer withstand the fatigue it produced: falling asleep while praying and stumbling through my days in a sleep-deprived stupor. I stopped but didn’t tell anyone.
It’s far easier to celebrate our spiritual triumphs than to acknowledge our failings. Yet, we must do both. Others benefit when we encourage them with the highlights of our spiritual journey, yet they may benefit even more when we acknowledge our spiritual shortcomings. It’s an act of healing for us and reassurance for them, establishing a strong spiritual bond. Honest sharing is being real before others – and with God.