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Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 “Freedom is attainable. Trust me, I’ve been on the anxiety side, gone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and now I’m praising God, eating at the banqueting table, and helping others make the same journey. Whether you find yourself stuck in anxiety, disappointment, grief, or confusion, your heart can be set free.” Judy Lair, “From the Other Side of the Couch.”

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Do You “know” Jesus or KNOW Jesus?

Last week I flew from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles, California to attend a conference. The first day I embarked on a thrilling walking tour through Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/MGM Studios. I hardly dared breathe on the stage where Judy Garland began her journey on the yellow brick road in Munchkin Land. Standing in the Barbara Streisand Sound Studio, I desperately wanted to break into “Funny Girl” or “The Way We Were,” but I didn’t want to get kicked off the tour! I visited the Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy studios and saw the New York brownstone neighborhood backdrop where they filmed The Smurfs. I think my favorite part was posing next to the Ghostbuster mobile! Everyone on the tour had their head on a swivel searching for celebrities, but no go.
I bravely took a public bus north on Santa Monica Boulevard to West Hollywood. Sitting at a stoplight, I looked to my left. There were four police officers with their guns drawn approaching a bank across the street which had apparently just been robbed! A helicopter flew overhead and several police cruisers arrived just as the light turned green and we pulled through the intersection. “Welcome to LA,” chirped the bus driver. How bizarre!
After snapping a photo of Adam Sandler’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for my son Ben, I made my way to Bronson Studios on Sunset Boulevard. The next several hours passed quickly as I laughed and cheered during the taping of Celebrity Name Game hosted by Craig Ferguson. A comedian named Frank got the audience revved up, telling jokes and asking us questions. He seemed really familiar and I felt like he was a rediscovered long lost relative. A married couple sitting in front of me shared they’d sat through six tapings the previous day and planned to attend all the shows the next day. Frank bantered with them like they were college buddies. Leaving the studio my sense of direction failed me. Believing I was taking a shortcut to the bus stop, I stubbornly kept walking and walking and walking, expecting to intersect Santa Monica Boulevard. As night fell in West Hollywood, a kind gentleman pointed out I was on a parallel street and needed to head west instead of south. Believe me, my anxiety was almost at panic level by that point!
The next day I again ventured out, getting off the bus in Beverly Hills to visit the CBS Studios. I enjoyed wondering around the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market. Eating brunch in the outdoor café gave me the freedom to drink in my surroundings. People watching in LA is amazing! Suntanned moms with long blonde hair, stylish gay men, and lots of bohemian 20somethings caught my eye as I savored the most amazing Hollandaise sauce I’ve ever tasted. I admit to eavesdropping on all the fascinating conversations around me. Everyone was talking about who they knew, who they wanted to impress, and who they wanted to “get a meeting” with next. I got caught up in listening to one young woman’s story of literally running into a famous movie director’s car, concluding they were now “in” with each other because the director gave her his Twitter handle.

Listening to all the conversations about knowing people made me realize we often do the same thing with Jesus. Christians know a lot of information about Jesus. We know stories about him, facts about his life, have heard about him from his friends—but do we really KNOW Jesus any more than I know Frank or that woman knows the director?

Stories, testimonials, and facts are a great place to start. But how do we KNOW Jesus in an intimate, relational way? We start by putting down our protective shields and intentionally showing our vulnerabilities. Turn your face toward heaven and say, “Jesus, my name is ­­­­­_______. I know you created me and I know what the Bible says about you, but I don’t really know YOU. Can we sit here while I tell you about my loneliness, hurt, and sadness?”

In most instances, folks try to establish relationships by putting their best face forward. We’ve learned how to read the other person, reinventing ourselves based on what we believe will get us a stamp of approval. Knowing information about someone helps us to anticipate what they expect and how to get “in” with them. But Jesus doesn’t want us to study up on his likes and dislikes in the hopes of gaining his favor. Nor does he want us to just be an audience member who believes proximity establishes relationship. Jesus asks us to go all in—drop all our pretenses and invite him to see our nakedness. While that approach may send your anxiety soaring, believe you me, it’s a whole lot better than finding yourself scared and alone when night falls in your chaotic life!

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