Being perfect is boring. After all, life is messy—oh so messy. Sometimes you walk out of the house without your keys. Sometimes you leave your wallet on top of your car and drive off and then have to pull over in the middle of the parking lot to retrieve it (true story). It’s okay, you’re only human. What is NOT okay is putting on the shiny veneer that everything is perfect.

There is a watching world wondering what a faith community has to offer. Will they find a safe place to be known without judgment? Can they be messy and still accepted? If we aren’t careful—and all we present are images of shiny, happy people— as a result , we can send a message that admission to the “club” requires perfection.

This kept us hiding for many years, suffering in silence, never letting anyone near the truth that our marriage was falling apart. Even in a place of leadership, we fell in line, kept quiet, and most of all never shared our struggles.

We know many of you reading this are hurting in your marriage and are embarrassed that you don’t have a great marriage like others in your community have. Consequently this brings shame, which we define as “the excruciating fear that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me.” Once humans were naked and unashamed, but now we respond as Adam and Eve did, and we hide.

According to the findings of Brené Brown:

1. We all have shame.

2. No one wants to talk about it.

3. The less we talk about it the more we have.

When Jesus proclaimed that the truth will set you free, He was referring to freedom from the shame of sin. If we have the courage to own our stories and remember that every second of the day the Father reminds us that YOU ARE ENOUGH BECAUSE I AM ENOUGH, then we can begin the process of defeating shame and embracing authentic communities.

We as a faith community have no need to hide any longer. We are released to become freedom fighters for others. Therefore, as we enter the summer season and invite those far from Jesus to join our gatherings, perhaps it’s time we reveal our imperfections and struggles and assure them that we, in fact, highly value other messy people.

Two qualities of unashamed and authentic marriages are:

1. They embrace and share their stories of struggle. It is an act of courage to be vulnerable about your failings, but hope comes from stories of couples who get back up and keep fighting for their marriages.

2. They create a safe place for people in their community to share, ugly cry, struggle, laugh, grow, and heal. Healthy communities are rooted in authenticity, vulnerability, and understanding.

Finally, our marriage challenge to you is this: Find one other couple in your community to invite to dinner sometime soon. Furthermore, get to know their story by asking open-ended questions like “How did you two meet?” and “Where do you see yourselves 10 years from now?” In addition, share your own story of how you fell in love and which areas you’re working on so they feel comfortable and safe sharing with you.

Read more articles about creating safe places for couples to connect at