Facades: What William Paul Young Taught Me

Facade (n.): 1. the face or front of a building. 2. a showy misrepresentation intended to conceal something unpleasant.

I was privileged and honored to meet William Paul Young, the writer of an amazing and oddly controversial book called The Shack. He came to Central and spoke at both the Contemporary and Third Format services on Saturday, as well as three services on Sunday. I was singing at both services on Saturday, and I was practicing for contemporary, where I was singing the song Closer to Love by Mat Kearney while an HD video of a lady painting went on behind me. As the band was waiting for the video to start, I looked down and saw Paul walking by, looking at me. I knew it was him because I'd never seen him, but he looked like he belonged (as in, not some random older gentleman walking around the stage pre-service).

He had a pretty cool vibe to him. I kinda stumbled on my words, saying "Hey, you're that author dude!" He smiled and confirmed my suspicions, and I told him his book was amazing, and he humbly accepted the compliment. He then sat and watched what we were doing. He is a best selling author, so I'm sure he's heard much better singers than me and much better bands than our band, but he was nothing but complimentary and enthusiastic. In fact, he ended up twittering some pics he took on his iPhone as we were practicing, including this one:

After the pictures, entering the production meeting, he hugged me as I greeted him again. He greets almost everyone with a hug, and a genuine smile on his face. To hear him tell his story, he has had enough with facades, and you can tell in the way he speaks, the way he listens. It is refreshing to be in the room with him. Everyone lights up, and it's amazing. We ask him about the controversy surrounding his book, and he responds with amusement and grace.

See, this book only meant to be printed 15 times at an Office Depot, and only meant to be read by his family and friends. The only problem is, they couldn't keep it to themselves. When no publishing company would print this unknown author's book, they created their own publishing company, because they were convinced that this book was life-changing. Paul gives the whole thing, every bit of fame and notoriety, back to God, going so far as to turn his back to the crowd and turn any applause given to him back to the God he calls "Papa", the God who reaches past his father issues in an unusual way (and a very effective way, according to my girlfriend, a psychology major).

I could say that I learned how to behave when God takes your small life and does big things. I could say that I learned more about how to make those around you feel special and important. I would be happy if these were the most important things I learned.

However, the most important thing I learned came from Paul Young's explanation of how God broke down his walls, how God was able to do these amazing things through him, not after a bible school degree or a seminary degree, but only after he was fully broken. It was only at that complete moment of brokenness that he was able to begin to be completely healed. Now, I'm not sure how complete God's work is in that man, but I will tell you that I talked to a William Paul Young who was genuine, healed, and unafraid (even as protesters line the entrances to parking lots when he speaks).

That spoke to me a lot. The word he used was "facade", in that he kept up a showy misrepresentation of himself, in order to deal with the hurt he had experienced in his life. The pain that it took for God to break through that facade was heart-wrenching, and it still brought tears to the man's eyes. I heard the way he spoke, and I saw the emotion and the transparency in his communication, and it reached me somewhere deep.

For a while now, I've kept up an illusion of openness and transparency, letting certain people see certain sides of me. I have been good at this, strategically putting windows in my walls so that people don't even notice where I'm not letting them go. I think that this is important in life, that we all should have our "inner circle" of close friends, and not just emotionally overload every acquaintance we make.

The thing is, I haven't truly had that "inner circle" in a while. I don't know who to trust, because I feel like if people knew my junk, they wouldn't want me as their friend, let alone their worship leader. I feel woefully inadequate, and undeserving, and weak. I feel like I should be stronger, or to put it the way Paul did, that "I shouldn't have any more junk".

I don't talk about my girlfriend much on here, but I will say that the one thing I am learning most in this relationship is how to trust someone, how to be in a relationship. She once told me that she didn't want to be the only one to need the other in this relationship. I thought that was silly, that we should only "need" Christ and that I didn't "need" anyone, that to "need" was unhealthy in a relationship. What I've learned is that the "need" is healthy when that "need" is a choice, when I don't choose to "need" her out of my own desperation, but out of a desire for a deeper connection. In much the same way as God through Christ, we humble ourselves to that connection, to that relationship, to that "need", as an expression of our affection and love for the other person. It was only after five months, after I'd let her be the one who saw me completely bawl my eyes out over the death of a friend, and talk in circles about my uncertain future, that I understood what it meant to say "I love you." (well, in a "relationship" kind of way)

She's pretty freakin' awesome :).

So I am resolving to be more open, to be more of a communicator and less of a performer. I want to hear the sound of walls coming down (God's love is a pretty mean sledgehammer). I want to let love and tears flow without worrying about how I will look. My story is much too long to tag to the end of this post, but I have had more than sufficient brokenness in my life. I'm ready for healing, for real close friendships, and to learn with my girlfriend how little I know about relationships.

I'm also looking for an inner circle, if you're interested.