Unicorns Ad Nauseum
November 3, 2016 | by: Sharon Bruce | 0 Comments
Posted in: Culture, Science and the Christian Walk
Have you seen the rainbow-puking unicorn? It’s gross. This new pop culture symbol has started showing up on t-shirts and Internet memes and greeting cards. Until recently, I had no idea what it meant; I just figured it was a cheap attempt at humor in the gross-equals-funny genre. So I would see it, feel a bit offended and move on.
That was then.
One night a few weeks ago I was having coffee with my friend Dee and, expressing her frustration at the almost forced inauthenticity that can come from being a Christian wife and homeschooling mom, she said to me, “I’ll just keep being the unicorn puking rainbows and pretend everything is fine.”
How freaking brave of her to say that out loud.
Now I get it and I’m totally onboard. Bring on the t-shirt!
That cartoon image brilliantly illustrates an unspoken expectation that Christians often place on themselves and each other: always have a spiritual smile on your face. You are a Christian. It’s your job to make Christ look good. The rainbow-puking unicorn is a great means to that end. It makes people believe you’re okay when you’re not. It can make you believe you’re okay when you’re not. It’s the nicest, sweetest, perkiest way to shut people out, and they won’t even notice you’re doing it! They’ll just think you’re an awesome Christian who has it all together. You know the verses, you have the smile, you completed the Bible studies and got all the answers right. Others around you will admire you and want to have a faith like yours, but they know they don’t have it in them, so they muster up their own inner unicorn, building the herd.
Here’s the thing: unicorns aren’t real.
Neither is the power of positive thinking (there’s a Bible verse for that), health, wealth, prosperity, and perkiness brand of theology that seems to overflow from so many segments of contemporary Christian culture. It’s a brand that’s impossible to live up to, and I’m convinced it creates congregations full of people who hide their pain instead of finding healing in God.
The temptation to hide is powerful. Satan is a talented liar and, like most bullies, he likes to catch people alone. To prove my point, here are some of the lies he’s used on me:
God doesn’t love you.
You are the only one who struggles with _________.
If people really knew you, they wouldn’t love you because you don’t deserve love.
Everyone around you has it together. If you lose it, they will mock you, judge you and leave.
You shouldn’t talk about ____________ because it will make you look weak, and someone in church leadership shouldn’t be weak.
Such lies fuel a perpetual state of isolation and damage control, with “Christian living” as the panacea. Pray more, read more, go to more Bbible studies, listen to more Christian music and eventually it will make us better. “Fake it till you make it,” right? It won’t work. God wants us to know Him and be “fully known (1 Cor. 13:12) .” He did not give us prayer, Scripture and worship as tools to save ourselves, but to know Him as Father, Savior and Spirit.
Do we have the courage to just stop the striving and posturing and believe Hhim when He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)? The act of stopping is surrendering our lordship over ourselves, our situation and our image to Christ. It’s an admission of need. Do we whitewash the tomb or let God expose it for what it is and free us from it?
Some of my most profound experiences of God’s love have come through his people having the courage to reveal their true selves to me and encouraging me to do the same to them. It is how we love one another as Christ loved us. It is how we bear one another’s burdens and rejoice with one another and weep with one another. Such powerful acts of love cannot exist in the same space as falsehood of perfectionism. That kind of love isn’t simply pretty; it is profoundly and awesomely beautiful, like the Truth Himself.
Sharon Bruce, a current CG leader at Restoration, traded her childhood desert mountains for beaches and green. Her lush backyard garden plants display a marked respect for her Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. Sharon’s love for God and compassion for His creation shout loudest in her artwork, in her caring friendship, and in her willingness to gently re-home a slimy frog from a friend’s front porch Bromeliad to the river three miles away.