By Luke Friesen
Have you ever been really good at doing the right things, but terrible at having the right motives? Or been prideful about what you’ve done for God, but completely lacking in true love for Him? That describes my early 20s well.
I was proud of my “Christian resume”: growing up overseas as a 3rd generation missionary kid and pastor’s kid, leading worship regularly, working at a Christian summer camp, barely drinking or smoking, and of course never doing drugs or having sex.
Being externally good was like being on autopilot, but it didn’t bring me peace or joy. I got to a point where I was cold toward the things of God. Worship didn't resonate in my soul, and prayers felt empty. Eventually I got angry at God—why wasn’t it working for me when I knew all the Christian facts and did all the Christian things? Why couldn’t I conjure up the right feelings?
I wasn’t really living a Christ-like life, though. I was walking in lust and pride, and had no community or accountability to correct my course. I was placed on a pedestal and introduced to others as “the godliest guy I know”, but didn’t have the courage or humility to share my struggles. In my deepest heart I knew I was walking in sin, but I tried to fix it myself, setting up artificial timelines like pledging not to look at porn after New Year’s (it didn’t work). I was having an affair with self-reliance, and it was killing me.
In the summer of 2005, things finally came to a head. I couldn’t fake it anymore. I couldn’t take being that cold toward God. I was finally honest with God and with myself, and admitted that I didn’t have it all together. I needed Him to do something radical in my heart, and I asked Him to do it.
God showed up! He revealed my sin patterns, selfishness, and sickening pride. As I processed that conviction in prayer, I poured my heart out, unpacking all my junk. In His incredible grace, God spoke three words to me that I will never forget: “I WELCOME THAT”. I broke down and confessed, and for the first time in a long time, felt the burden of performance lifted from me as I rested in Him (Matthew 11:28-30).
Since then, I still battle pride and performance regularly, but my approach to life and godliness were radically altered. I understood that while I may be able to control my actions, only God can change my heart (Ezekiel 11:19). I learned the importance of authenticity, vulnerability, and a total reliance on God’s restorative power (Psalm 51:10). I’m walking in consistent community, and one of the main things I ask my brothers to do is watch for my pride.
By God’s grace, now I hope to be one of the first guys, instead of the last one, to tell you that I don’t have it all together, but that I know the One who does!