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The Church of 80% Sincerity

We do not understand what is going on while it is going on. The human soul does not wear a watch, has no way to keep track of linear time and no interest in doing so. It waits patiently for us to gather the grace and the tools to understand childhood embarrassment, human frailty, the qualities that we mistakenly feel are locked forever in our past.

And to be clear, it is not just pain that can be locked away. The times when joy or pride cannot be expressed in the present, they are recorded in soul time too, still available in their fullness when we are ready to accept them as part of who we are.

We are not failures for not understanding what is going on when it is going on. We simply do not always have the tools.
David Roche is not pretty. Look at his face. He expects you to. But don’t stop there. Look deeper.

Look past the tumor from birth. The scars from surgeries. The seemingly unfinished chin and jaw.
My face is an elaborately disguised gift from God. Oh, not a gift I was ecstatic about receiving. Did I open this gift and say, “Ah...ah! Exquisite! How did you know what I wanted, God? No, it was more like, “You shouldn’t have.”

But my face is a gift, because my shadow side is on the outside where I have had to learn to deal with it.

In his book, oddly entitled The Church of 80% Sincerity, he shares his journey into a world we may think we know because of insecurities about our own bodies, but most of us do not know this world—the world of the severely disfigured.
Slowly I stopped pretending to be normal and began to accept myself the way I was. ...So I made it up—the church of choice for recovering perfectionists.

In the Church of 80% Sincerity, we think 80 percent sincerity is as good as it gets. You can be 80 percent sincere 100 percent of the time, or 100 percent sincere 80 percent of the time. It’s in that 20 percent area where you get some slack and you can be yourself. ...We have no ideals. We do not try to change people by having them conform to an idea. We try to accept people as they are. We adjust our beliefs and practices to conform to the reality of being human.

I don’t agree with his theology, but his life experiences reveal truths worth listening to.

My fears about speaking were considerable. I thought that my difference separated me from others, that my face was an impediment, that it would be a reason for people to scorn me.

Amazingly, that fear turned out not only to be unfounded, but also to be the opposite of the truth. What I feared is not unique to me alone, but totally human. We all fear that we will be embarrassed, that we are not acceptable to others, that we will be rejected.

The story that you have to tell, the message you have to convey, may not seem unusual to you. But the things I have to say are not that unusual either. It’s the same old thing: love yourself, find your sources of faith and work them, nurture relationships, keep trying.

We each have the responsibility to help each other tell these stories, to remind those in our purview of the things that we all already know—that people are basically good as well as flawed, that the barriers are in our own minds. We have to keep reminding and reminding and reminding and reminding each other to keep telling our stories, to remind ourselves and each other that the fear of embarrassment turns out to be a predecessor to grace.

So I’m reminding you: Tell someone a piece of your story today. And listen to someone else tell theirs.

And keep looking at David Roche. The more you do, the more beautiful he gets.

More from David's book


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