The past several weeks have been just plain hard for so many people I love. They have dealt with major health issues with their family members, death of family members, miscarriages and a sweet baby girl born sleeping. The Bible makes it clear that there will be hard times, but that the Lord is always by our side and we have family and friends who will love us and pray for us through these difficult times.
Things for us have not been overly easy, but I guess in comparison to my friends, it hasn’t been that bad. I am not downplaying our stuff or stating that our feelings are not valid, but my tiny little family is still one piece.
I will never understand why things have to be this way. I will never understand why cancer continues to take lives. I will never understand why there are so many diseases that ravage our bodies or why we can’t all live to be 115. I will never understand why so many wonderful couples struggle to carry a sweet baby to term and have empty arms. But, I guess the hard times make the good times that much better and it makes us appreciate those we love just a little more.
The other night I finished reading “Loved Back to Life” by Sheila Walsh and she talks about an event with her father that threw a major curve-ball in her life. She talks about she “handled” it and the downward spiral it started for her. She also talked about how she kept her friends and those she loved at an arms length. When it all came to a head, she found herself in a psychiatric ward for almost a month. Thankfully, for her, the story ended well. She, through faith, was able to finally open up to her therapist, family and close friends. She also met the man of her dream, had a baby boy and started speaking with “Women of Faith.” It was by far a difficult journey, but she came through on the other side.
As I read her book, talked with my friends, read updates on Facebook and then read a friend’s blog today, a reality hit me. Too many of us will share the facts of a situation, but will keep spouses, family and friends at an arm’s length or longer when it comes to sharing feelings. Life can be incredibly difficult and yet, we choose to not let others in. We choose to put on our “happy camper” faces and keep on marching. Facts are easy to share, but feelings are anything but. I think part of this is that sharing only facts seems to be safer. When we we start dealing with feelings, then we really have to deal with the yucky stuff. Sharing feelings means being vulnerable and that is the last thing that most people want to do.
This past Wednesday night, I had the privilege of sharing my weight loss journey with a group from church in the “Daniel Plan” Bible study. There were things that I openly shared and then there were things that I couldn’t even begin to voice with this group. Part of it was pride and the other part was that I didn’t want to let people in to certain parts of my life. While I do feel there are things that should not be shared with the general public, there are things that we should open up, share and let people in.
My struggle as I shared my story Wednesday night was this, what if I shared something that I was scared to share, but it ended up impacting another person sitting in that room? What if something in my story finally gave someone else the courage to voice something they have kept to themselves for far too long? As I shared my story, parts of Sheila Walsh’ book kept popping in my head. She took the time to sit and write out her story, even with as painful as it was. She had enough faith to put it out there and bring hope to others. She shared how many women came to her and were finally brave enough to share some of their inner most secrets.
Society and church tells us that it’s not okay to share feelings. We are told that transparency is wrong and to let other people in the deep places is over-sharing. When I think of the church, I think of it as a hospital for sinners and the hurting and not a country club for the saints. Yet, that is exactly how we treat it. We walk into church and when someone asks us how we are doing, we typically answer “Good” or “I am just so blessed.” When in reality that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Now, don’t hear me saying that we should walk around being a negative Nancy, but we need to stop being so afraid of letting others in.
Think about it. If we all started to shed our masks an started to let others in, how much better off would we be? How much easier would life be if we truly let others in? It takes faith and courage to be transparent, It is so much easier to keep those walls up. It’s easier to hold people at an arm’s length. It’s difficult to let go of pride. It’s difficult to let others see our imperfections. It’s difficult to let others know what we are really feeling or that we need help. At no point in the Bible does it state that we are be an island unto ourselves. We were created to be in relationship with the Lord and with others. Yet, too many times, we choose to shut out those who love us, rather than to let them in when we need it most. Our pride tells us that we have to be strong. It tells us that others will never understand what we are feeling and that people will think less of us if we tell them how we truly feel.
What if we as the Church took Galatians 6:2 to heart? It states “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” What would this look like? I imagine that the pain and frustrations of life wouldn’t seem quite such a burden. I imagine that while the pain of life wouldn’t vanish or disappear, but our loads would seem a little lighter. I also imagine that the Church would truly have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ and that we could help those around carry those burdens.
One of my catalyst verses through my weight loss journey has been Luke 2:52. This states “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.” So many times when people think about health, they only think about their diet and exercise. They don’t think about their relationship with the Lord, their relationships with others or their emotional health. As you think about what you have read here, I encourage you take a hard look at your emotional health. Are there things in your life that you have held onto for far too long and that you finally need to bring to light? Are you holding onto things that are holding you back? Are there area of your life that you need to tell your spouse or your inner circle? Are there areas that you may need to seek out a therapist? I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to help you take off your mask, tear down the walls you have have so carefully built and finally find the freedom in sharing the deepest parts of you so that you can find true freedom in Christ and freedom from carrying your burdens on your own.