The problem with the Church of ‘nice’.


Perfect family…    …perfect teeth.

I am not a perfect wife. I am not a perfect mother. And I don’t pretend to be – anymore.

I fight with my husband and my kids all the time. Most of the time it is over silly little things. They drive me mad. I drive them mad. We all have to live together.

I often used to think that I was doing something wrong. Everyone else seemed to have these perfect ‘nice’ marriages and perfect ‘nice’ families, and my marriage and family were just not like that. It became a point of shame for me that we were not as perfect as other people and really started to get me down.

Satan would whisper things in my ear like “Your marriage is not working… You are not cut out for motherhood… You are failing.” Of course the Father of lies is the master of keeping himself hidden, so I believed that what he was saying was true.

I think the biggest lie I believed was “You are not good enough.” My response to this was to try harder. Mistake.



The scales began to fall from my eyes when one day a close friend who had the perfect marriage and family confided in me that her husband was obsessed with work and never spent any time at home, and she was in love with another man. She was terrified I would judge her. I didn’t of course because she was my friend and I loved her – but I couldn’t understand how her perfect marriage had got into that state?

I kept her confidence, and marveled at how they managed to keep it together at family events – still projecting the facade that everything was still ‘nice’.

The second eye opener for me was when a family member got divorced. It came as a complete shock for everyone because they seemed to be the perfect couple. It seems there was major troubles within the relationship that no-one knew about.

The third and most painful eye-opener was when I decided to hide my post natal depression. I was so ill, but I was so ashamed of not being as good as all the other mothers – or so I thought at the time. Then I found out that another friend was on antidepressants and that she also felt utterly trapped in the unending cycle of nappies, feeding and crying.

When I recovered from the depression I began to see things in a new light.  I looked at all my friends and their marriages and families and realised that all of us were struggling. It still makes me smile now when I see newly weds, or first time parents desperately trying to convey the ‘nice’ picture of perfect domestic bliss, because I know that Satan will be whispering the exact same thing into their ears as he was into mine. They are gonna have to work it out for themselves just like I did. I wouldn’t have believed it if anyone had tried to tell me anyway…


*Real life*

This culture of perfection that we all seem to be striving for is based on pride. The fact is that none of us are good enough to carry out God’s plan for our lives. That’s right – I just said we are not good enough. Well, the truth is that we aren’t – and that was the final piece of the puzzle for me.

“I can’t do this Father, but You can. Please, I need You Father, I need You.”

It is amazing how the weight of my whole life just lifted off me at that moment. Realising that I was incapable was the most freeing moment of my life because it finally allowed me to rely entirely on God. And for the first time at that moment, it made sense that I should be entirely truthful with other people about how I find marriage and motherhood incredibly difficult at times. If I was ever going to be able to give an authentic witness to the sacrament of Marriage or to motherhood, then I was going to have to let people see that I was not perfect, and that that was ok.

What better witness to the truth is there than letting people see God’s mercy made perfect in my weakness? I am in need of a saviour. I need my Father.


I bet these nice people don’t sin.

This exact same principle applies to the Church at large. People do not need a perfectly veneered version of the church. In fact I would say that this is probably the most off putting, disingenuous way of presenting things. If you try to give people the Church of ‘nice’ you are leading them to believe that everyone in that church is already perfect. Then they try to be perfect, and fail, and then try to cover up their shame and get totally put off because they can’t live up to your churches unattainably high moral standards. You know – they are probably terrible sinners, just like you are.

People need to see the truth, and the truth is that we as the church are just a big bunch of helpless sinners in need of a saviour. That includes the laity and the clergy. My role in evangelising amounts to nothing more than me being one beggar, telling another beggar where the bread is.


People aren’t looking for ‘nice’. They are looking for truth. And the truth is that none of us are perfect, yet God still loves us unconditionally and wants us to totally rely on Him, and return to Him again and again through the sacrament of Confession.

5 thoughts on “The problem with the Church of ‘nice’.

  1. Thank you Clair, you always give us food for thought. As I was reading your blog a scripture from Isaiah (50: 10-11) came to mind where he talks about those who fear the Lord and walk in obedience to his commandments and then he goes on to say that there is a darkness on the inside because they are trying to work everything out for themselves and not handing their problems over to the Lord so that he can deal with them. He goes on to say that the reason when you go to bed you haven’t got any sleep is because you still have your sticky little hands in there and holding on to something that he wants to do for you. Then I was thinking that many people are still living under the old covenant and they are like Paul in Romans 7 where he says ‘I speak to those who know the law’ still having conflict with the flesh. Being described as a wretched person delighting in the God in the inner man but still being dominated by the outer man with all its habits and things. Here you have a person trying to be free by the works of the law which has power and dominion over you as long as you live. Paul gives the example of a husband and wife relationship, where he likens the law unto a husband who is a perfectionist. But he goes on to say that if the husband dies then the wife in no longer tied to the dead husband. Death has severed the relationship, there is no more bondage. If I am living by my soul then I am under the Law of Reason. If I am living by my body then I am under the LSD (law of sin & death). If I am living by my spirit then I am under the Law of faith. To walk in the spirit is to have the body and the soul under the control of the spirit. My soul has to be married to my spirit so I can walk in resurrection life. We have to participate in his death if we are to participate in his resurrection life. We have to identify ourselves with the death of Jesus. Anything that I try to do by myself is a dead work, it’s dead because it has not been empowered or energised by the Holy Spirit. I cannot change myself, I am totally dependent on the Lord to change me, and I can’t do it. When I try to change myself things get worse, that’s what Paul describes in Romans 7. The more you try to stop, the more bound you become. The key to overcoming the old nature is renunciation. If I were to renounce my son I would be cutting him off from my life and considering him to be dead. If you take as example the Hindu culture where when a person becomes a Christian, they take everything belonging to that person, put it on a funeral pyre and have a mock funeral and they consider that person to be dead. That’s what renounce means, it’s a repetitive word where I have to speak over and over again that that thing is dead to me, until there is a separation and that thing is no longer a part of me.

    In Romans 6:2 Paul writes ‘how can we who are dead to sin live any longer in therein’ so whatever weakness or habit that is binding you, you have to keep renouncing it until it no longer is any part of you. This is what we call entering into spiritual warfare. You see we are carrying around a dead body that wants to keep on doing the things it is used to doing. But it is only by the spirit that we can put off the misdeeds of the body. We have this new life within that wants to come forth and take over so that Jesus can be king and reign within and that’s why there is a war going on within. And if we do sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus the righteous Son and as we confess our sins He is just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In (1 John 3:9) we read ‘No-one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God’. So as we renounce the things of the flesh and keep speaking them off the less hold they have on us and the life of Christ within gets stronger and stronger because ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

  2. good reads on this blog, i stumbled in here a year or so ago
    nice comes from nescius which means to be an ignoramus if im not mistaken 🙂