For the past several days I have been reading “What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms” by Angie Smith. In the school where I work there is a list of 5 things on every board in all of the classrooms, #2 is Tell Someone and #3 is Don’t Fake it. Yes, I promise the two are connected, in my mind at least.
Angie’s book talks about the things that many women walk around w/ inside of their heads b/c they are too afraid of letting anyone in on their secrets. Many times this has to do with what we as women are afraid of losing. I see the questions on the board as asking the same thing. Are we afraid of what people will think? Are we afraid of losing respect from our spouse or our friends? Are we afraid of losing our leadership position at church? The sad answer to all of those questions is a resounding “Yes!”
My question is “Why?” Why is it that we feel the need to walk into church with our heads held so high? Why are we so afraid of letting people in? Isn’t church supposed to be the hospital for the weak? Most of the time when we walk into our respective churches and someone asks “How are you?” our response is “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, we are so Blessed.” (Insert thick southern accent). The sad thing is that there are days when this couldn’t be farther from the truth, but out of fear of not appearing to be anything but super spiritual, we won’t answer w/ anything but that type of response.
Let me give you an example from my own life a little over a month ago:
It was a Wednesday. The week was already headed in a bad direction and that day at work, anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I was late leaving school and when I came home all 3 kids were in meltdown mode. My husband and I had an argument over something, don’t remember now, and money was tight and we had a huge bill to pay and not sure how we were going to pay it. Granted, Jan and Feb in our house is always tight just due to the nature of my husband’s business. Anyway, he and I had an argument and then he had to leave for a random Wed night gig. At this point, I wanted to put all 3 kids in bed, grab a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Fish Food, crawl into my own bed and watch Food Network until I fell asleep and then try again in the morning. Instead, I loaded the kids in the van, ran through the drive through at CFA, b/c we all know that CFA makes us smile and then headed on to church. There were no open spots in the fellowship hall so I set the kids up picnic style in the lobby area outside of the sanctuary. They were happily munching on their nuggets when a man walked up and asked me 1) If all of the kids were mine 2) Do they have the same father and 3) If I had any idea as to what causes this? Thankfully, I allowed the Lord to bite my tongue until he walked away. At this point, I wanted to sit there on the floor and cry, but I didn’t. I cleaned up the kids and dropped them off at their classrooms and headed on up to dance and then on to choir. When people asked how I was or how things were going, I responded with “good, we’re good.”
Reality was that was bold face lie in church. What was I so afraid of? In honesty, part of it that we have only been at this church since August and I was not going to unload on a person that I didn’t know that well and I also knew that if the tears started, they wouldn’t have stopped. There are two women that I have come to have a great deal of respect for in the short time we have been there and I am pretty confident that I could have talked w/ either one of them that night and they would have listened and then prayed for me. The one would have cracked a joke and made me laugh. The point is, I was afraid of having anything on, but my “happy camper face.”
I am not saying that we all have these days everyday or even every week, but why are we so afraid of letting people in? Now, don’t hear me saying that we should walk around church like Eeyore, and complain about the cars cutting us off in traffic, hitting every red light to and from work, the cashier/ waiter/ waitress who had more attitude than needed, but there are times when we need to let others in and talk about what is going on inside of our heads.
My next question is do you have one or more people that you know well enough and are comfortable enough to get real w/ when it’s needed? Having one or two very good, close friends is important. The Lord didn’t create us to be alone. We were created for fellowship. Created for fellowship w/ Him and w/ others. I think there are times when in prayer we lie to the Lord. He’s not dumb and He already knows what we are thinking and feeling, so we might as well fess up to Him if we won’t to anyone else. There are times when we need to share our fears, doubts, envy, negative self-talk, etc… to others b/c to verbalize it and have someone to process it w/ is healthy. It may be that what you are struggling w/ needs more than a good heart to heart w/ a friend. It may be that you need to talk to someone more qualified. You may need the support of a good friend to take that first step and be w/ you when you make the call. Not everyone needs a counselor, but there are times when that may be what is needed.
All of this to lead to the ultimate question of “What do we have to lose?” If sharing your fears, doubt, envy, negative self-talk ends up costing you a friendship/ relationship, then that friendship/ relationship was not great from the start. In reality, we could end up costing ourselves an incredible walk w/ the Lord and in the end, that is the most important. I think, many times, we are our own biggest barrier to our relationships w/ Christ b/c the outward appearance of having it all together is more important that truly having it together in the eyes of the Lord. The great thing is that He is more than willing to meet us where we are. There is nothing that we can bring to Him that He can’t handle. We serve a mighty and loving God, One who wants us to bring everything to Him.
When we come to a point where you know you need to share, but are afraid, here are a few verses on fear that I am learning and are becoming important to me on my own journey.
“The LORD is my light and salvation; whom then shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25
There are so many more verses on fear, but these are some that have jumped out at me personally.
As I close out this post, what are the fears or other thoughts that you have wanted to verbalize for so long, but are too afraid to share? Are you ready to stop carrying them around w/ you and move forward in your life and in your walk w/ Christ? I don’t claim to have all of the answers and still struggle w/ these things myself, but I am ready to stop pretending. How wonderful would it be if we could walk into church tonight or Sunday and get real w/ each other and walk w/ each other and truly pray for and w/ each other? How different would our churches look? How much larger would our impact for Christ be?