It’s 3pm and I’ve hardly done anything with my day. I got out of bed this morning but I’m not sure if I’ve woken up yet. Things are still foggy, my heart is somber and it’s another day I’ve faced unmotivated to change. Ever have one of those days?
I have good days and bad, just like any normal person but for an onlooker you can probably assume I’m having a good day. I like to keep myself pretty upbeat and positive, not because I’m faking it, but because I’d rather focus on that than on my realities. But there are only a few who really know, and only one who always gets the short end of the stick.
He comes home from work nearly every day with a smile on his face, eager to see his family that he’s labored so hard to keep at home. He’s patient with me as I sulk. Internalizing things I shouldn’t, coping with things my own way. He tries to ask how I am. The basic “how are you” should do it, right? Well, that doesn’t cut it for me, so it’s “fine” and I move on. I’m at the kitchen counter chopping onions because I love to cook. Making meals for my family is one of my favorite things. And the great thing about chopping onions on a bad day is that you can mask what’s going on internally with the way your eyes react to the onions externally. Are you catching my drift?
The great thing about chopping onions on a bad day is that you can mask what’s going on internally with the way your eyes react to the onions externally.
He takes a second glance, seeing my red eyes and frantically chopping knife. He does the math like any male brain would do: wife crying + chopping onions = reaction to the onions, and goes about his business. Smart move since I’m the one with a knife ☺
The underlying truth in this story is that inevitably, what’s happening on the inside will eventually leak its way out through our eyes and down those cheeks. But our problem is that we internalize our realities, our struggles, our addictions, our shame, or even worse, on a bad day when the internal erupts, Lord help us to be in the kitchen so we can blame the onions, because heaven forbid someone might see something is really wrong, and ask!
We are all so afraid to go there. To put ourselves out there and be honest. To be real with ourselves and our people. What’s that all about, you guys? By being honest and vulnerable, whether with your people, your friends, or your spouse, you’re subconsciously giving people permission to do the same. I see it all the time. Take for example a group setting where it’s superficial at first. We’ve all been there. But then someone just goes for it – spilling their guts on the table, and suddenly others in the group feel safe to do the same.
If we cannot be real with each other – letting each other into the mess, the shame, the ugly cry – then we have completely missed the point. Doing life with people is essential for spiritual growth. We cannot head for the hills, excluding people from our hearts and lives, and yet complain that we don’t feel connected to God. If we’re constantly trying to keep each other out – the very essence of Imago Dei – it’s no wonder we don’t feel connected! There has to come a point where we stop blaming the onions, and start being real with each other.
If we cannot be real with each other – letting each other into the mess, the shame, the ugly cry – then we have completely missed the point.
If you’re looking to take the first step for the very first time, or the first step again for the hundredth time, here is some encouragement to keep you going:
Let God Tear Down the Walls You’ve Built
It can be intimidating to open up your heart if you’ve hidden it behind a fortress. Trust God to tear down those walls brick by brick and allow His Spirit to penetrate your heart and start the healing process.
Invite (A couple) Trustworthy Friends in
It’s not necessary to open up your closet for all of your friends on social media to see, nor is it appropriate. However, it is appropriate and necessary to open yourself up to a couple people whom you trust. Let them into your life, your heart, your struggles. Bringing others in will lighten the burden and will bring accountability if needed. This is one of the reasons why God has given us the gift of friendship.
Set Your Pride Aside
Our culture, including Christian culture, continuously manipulates our thinking that “everyone else’s lives are perfect” or, “so-and-so has an amazing walk with the Lord, I feel humiliated that I’m the only one struggling here”. Let me give it to you straight, one of our values here at STG is to normalize your struggle, meaning – in the most loving way possible, your struggle isn’t unique! In fact, we hope this is another avenue you can access to find help for your struggle, and if we haven’t written on it yet, we probably will soon! Be real, authentic, and vulnerable – be the brick breaker in your circle of people.
Be real, authentic, and vulnerable – be the brick breaker in your circle of people.
Cover Your People in Prayer
If one of your people comes to you with walls down, will you get on your knees with that person, in that very moment? There is something powerful about prayer in the moment, and I know I need to be more vigilant in praying for others on the spot. Enter in. Pray. Weep. Comfort. Read scripture. Take a road-trip. Write a note. Make a worship CD (do people still listen to CD’s??). And then pray again.
Allow for Grace
There’s always a risk when you invite people into your mess, that someone will say something or do something stupid to pour salt on your wounds. Don’t hold it against them. For your people whom you’ve let in, give them grace to say or do stupid things. And if you’re on the reciprocating end and you’re listening to your person spill their guts, don’t try to change them right in that moment. Give them grace to work through their own faith with fear and trembling and be a support and encouragement along the way.
And finally, encourage each other to keep going. Keep being honest. Keep keepin’ it real. It’s hard. It’s so hard to put yourself out there, but it will only benefit you, and most likely the other person(s) involved so just hang in there with each other and continue to encourage! Cheer on your people in their race as you run yours. No matter the pace, be their cheerleader.
We’re in this together, and we’re better for it. Let’s stop camping out in our kitchens, shall we?
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