Thursday, March 9, 2017

If we're honest

If you had to identify your worst case scenario, what would it be?  A diagnosis?  A death?  A loss of some kind like a relationship or a job?  If you had to indentify the worst circumstances in our world, what would you name?  The political climate?  The refugee crisis?  Terrorism?  Threats of war? Human trafficking?  And finally, if you had to compare your current reality, the thing you wish could change the most, how would you rate it against the things you just listed?  My guess is not very high in light of the magnitude of what you just measured it against.  I think that's how most of us think these days.  Our worst compared to some global or local tragedy and we minimize what we are dealing with to the size of a grain of sand.

In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp shared a story where she was texting a friend of hers back and forth during a personal crisis.  The following is a portion of the text exchange:

(Ann's friend Mei)
Hey, you.  Just sitting with you here.  It's okay.  It's okay to not be okay.

Thaks for being a safe place to come with a mess of broken.

(Ann's friend Mei)
You know what you just did~you just came and gave your heart.
You just laid out your broken heart, without me asking for it.  I think
this is the first time since I've known you that you've opened your heart.
You came to me and voluntarily shared.

You mean~are you saying you've always had to commit a break
and entry~to get into my heart?

(Ann's friend Mei)
Yeah~something like that.  But this time~you gave yourself without
being asked.  You just gave~your broken heart.

I think~I was always reluctant to share any of my own brokenness with you
because I didn't want to add to your own life that was full to the point of 
breaking?  Didn't want to be a burden.  Didn't want to cause~more breaking.

(Ann's friend Mei)
Yeah, I know.  But you know~that is why I didn't think we were real friends.

This exchange hit me harder than I could have imagined.  I am hoping it has done the same to you. Not that I want you to have had your toes stubbed hard against a wall, but sometimes, I think we need a bit of a reality check.

Here's the thing.  There are horrible things happening in our world.  I don't need to tell you that.  You pick up any newspaper or turn on any newscast in any city around the globe and you can see up close and personal the awful things that are happening.  And in response, we minimize, diminish, sweep away, ignore, stuff, and repress our own pain and suffering.  We are trading reality for the glossiest version of the best parts of our lives because heaven forbid we say something is hard, that we are hurting, that we need a shoulder, or that something has pulled the rug out from under us and left us bruised and broken.  And why?  Because we have told ourselves it's not that bad or it could be worse or be thankful you don't live ______________.

The reality is Jesus told us that in this life we would have trouble and we walk around acting like trouble has never found us.  How on earth does it bring glory to God if others don't see the things we are struggling to overcome or the victory He has given us over something in our past?  How can people see Jesus and the Spirit of the living God as our strength if they think we can fully operate without Him?  And how can we comfort someone with the comfort God has given us if they think we are just quoting Scritpure not recounting where He met us in our deepest, darkest pain?

I don't know when this horrific habit started.  And I am certainly not saying that our hearts shouldn't be broken and continually breaking for the worst parts of human existance.  But I am saying we need to stop pretending that everything is okay when it isn't, we need to be able to be honest about what is causing us pain, and we absolutely must start reaching out to one another for support when things feel like they are crumbling.  That kind of vulnerabilty isn't going to be easy, and I'd say that we all have a significant amount of unlearning to do, but my fear is that if we keep losing human connection based on true compassion in what is our reality, the cost is going to be higher than we ever thought possible.

And here's the thing, even if we aren't ready to start sharing our hurting hearts with flesh and blood that can hold our hand, perhaps we can start by being honest with God.  I haven't prayed a prayer in years where I cried out begging Him to change or fix something because I felt selfish and ungrateful. That's not something I'm proud of, but that doesn't make it less true.  And let me tell you, I've gone through a few things in the past 5 years that hurt a hell of a lot that I just muscled through instead of letting God bring His peace, perspective, and pain relief.  And that's not spiritual maturity.  That's pitiful.

I know that this is a much different type of post than what I typically write.  But truly, this should be encouraging.  We should be encouraged to share our hearts with one another, we should be encouraged to suffer with others in their pain, and we should definitely be encouraged that we have a heavenly Father that says to pray about ALL things and to cast ALL our anxiety on Him.  Nothing that affects us is too minimal for Him to love us through.  Nothing.

Please don't leave this post defeated.  Leave it resolved.  Resolved to be honest.  Resolved to share. Resolved to be real.  And in doing that, you can give others the encouragement they need to do the same.

Father, we have taken so many things that were meant to draw us closer to You with our broken hearts and instead we tried to mend them ourselves.  We have robbed others of the opportunity to see Your glory by not admitting where we've needed You to step in with Your amazing grace.  And we have done it all because we've believed a lie.  Help us to see the truth that You want us to deal honestly with our emotions, to cry out to You in our deepest pain, and to let others come to us with their burdens so we can seek You with them.  Help us to tell our stories of Your greatest triumphs in our lives knowing it can be used to lift someone else up.  Amen.

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