Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tammy Faye Bakker: A Reason to Live Transparently


After putting my son down for his morning nap, I caught the tail end of an interview with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's son, Jay Bakker on The Today Show.

He spoke of his new book, Fall to Grace, his struggle with drugs and alcohol and of the course the scandal that his parents were a part of back in the eighties. The Bakkers took upwards of 1.3 billion dollars from their PTL (Praise the Lord) TV audience to fund their own lifestyle.

However, Jay is now a preacher himself. Using his life story as a reason to live transparently in his faith, he spoke candidly about his mother and her wonderful sense of humor, her battle and surrender to cancer, and how much she was his best friend.

It seems as if Jay's mission isn't unlike those of us that were born and raised in the church. We want to live lives of honesty and transparency to take away the veil that has fallen over some legalistic churches and belief systems, which is so unappealing to those who are searching in their life.

Tammy Faye Bakker made some mistakes in her life. I don't know the entire story (as an eighties baby myself), I just have some foggy memories of my parents and neighbors clucking their tongues in shame and judgment. And why not? Jim and Tammy Faye wore the mask of good and used it for evil. But don't we all do that in some respects?

Granted, no we don't all steal billions of dollars from God's pockets, but we all sin. We all talk behind others backs. We all try to wear the right clothes, drive the right car, and have the right house to play the part- to impress that person, or to get that job.

The only difference between Tammy Faye Bakker and everyone else is that she had to bear her sin publicly and shamefully. I always wince at the verse in Luke where it says that all of our sins will be shouted from the rooftops. Yikes...that will be an embarrassing day for all of us.

So what does this commentary have to do with being a nice girl?

A lot.

For example, if you put a piece of scotch tape on your cardigan and pull it off, what will you find? Maybe some stray strands of material, perhaps a lint ball or two, and maybe even some cat hair from Mr. Pickles overnight stay in your dresser drawer.

You can't hide anything from a piece of scotch tape. Living a life of transparency is a lot like using scotch tape as a lint roller.

If you allow yourself to be seen for who you really are- frayed around the edges, balled up into your own world, or coated in worries of everyday life- you will find that we all have stuff that sticks to us and stuff that we can't seem to remove no matter how tough we try.

Don't fall victim to the lie that being "true to yourself" or trying to be "authentic to our emotions" is what it means to really live a life of honesty. Our emotions can't be trusted and being true to ourselves is just a hall pass for uninhibited me-ism.

So how do we live a life of transparency when no one is perfect?

First, we need to admit that we aren't.

Then stop trying to pretend that we are.

And lastly, forgive those who reveal those imperfections, instead of judging them for it.

Tammy Faye lost her way. But her son has forgiven her, loved her, and talks very highly of her. We should all be gracious enough to forgive those who have hurt us. We should all hope to embrace family who has embarrassed us, and we should all strive to be the agent that creates a greater good for those we share our life with- no matter how hard we've fallen or how far we have to go.

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