Yesterday was one of "those" days. The ones where you want to call it quits on being an adult, curl up in a ball and binge watch Netflix. Keeping in mind of course that I know I have an awesome life. The two craziest parts of my life are also two of the greatest parts of my life. So I had tons of heaping mom guilt piled on top of my frustration.
In the middle of it I had the thought, I should text my good friend and just talk it out a little. I always feel better after a little friend talk. But as soon as I thought it this crazy powerful other voice, my Darth Vader voice, said, "No. Not Miss Perfect-Never-Has-a-Bad-Mom-day friend!" And down the path I went of all the reasons no one could possibly understand me.
Then it happened. My perfect mom friend text me to talk about how hard her day had been with her daughter. Suddenly I was reminded...she's human too. And she loves me and would never judge me. If I bring my struggles to her I know that she will encourage me, pray for me and I will walk away better.
It's always been true and yet, in that previous moment, when I decided to not reach out I was buying into one of Satan's most powerful weapons..."no one could possibly understand". I am convinced that Satan will do almost anything to keep us in isolation believing no one cares much less could understand. Have you felt this?
No one understands what it's like to experience infertility.
No one understands what it's like to lose your brother/sister/mother/father.
No one gets how hard it is to be single.
No one knows what it's like to go work everyday at a job you hate.
No one understands what it's like to deal with depression.
No one else's marriage is struggling.
No one else is drowning in debt.
Everyone else is happy and perfect.
I AM ALL ALONE.
And so we hide. We turn away from authenticity and vulnerability with others because well...they couldn't possibly understand. They might make light of my struggle. They might judge my inadequacies. It would hurt too much to share and only have my greatest fear confirmed. Because that's what it all comes back to really.
We desperately want to be understood, to share our burdens to know we are not alone. But Satan comes along and convinces us it's not possible. And it is all so deeply personal we buy the lie that we can't risk it. We can't bring our hardship into the light, we just...can't.
We shut the doors, put on a fake smile and wander through our days, hurting and alone but never sharing. It doesn't take long for bitterness to start taking root. Hopelessness makes a home in our heart. Peace is replaced by a grinding angst. And our lives turn into an empty shell of the abundant life God promises. There we sit. Convinced everyone, God included, has abandoned us.
Perhaps this is why in Hebrews 10 we are told how to specifically care for each other. Verses 24-25 says, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together...but encourage one another..." The short term easy route is to be a hermit, keeping our cards close to our chest and refusing to share with those close to us. But in the long term it will hurt us deeply.
This passage is two fold you'll note. It offers instruction for the listener and the sharer. When we are in a place of struggle we need to be willing to ask for help. To seek wisdom and encouragement from those who are in our close circle of community. We have to lay down our pride, set aside the fear Satan is selling us and risk being vulnerable. We also have to be willing to extend grace when people mess it up and don't respond well to our hurts.
I've seen a hundred articles on Facebook that people share about the "10 things to never say to someone who...(lost a loved one, is struggling with infertility, has a sick child, is single, etc.)". Good articles with helpful information for sure. But I think each of us should also remember that people will say hurtful things with the best of intentions. Extending grace to them, understanding their heart is not to hurt is an important part of our responsibility. You can look around and see a mass of people out to hurt you or you can see a mass of people who love you and want to express how much they care. Your choice will greatly impact the quality of your journey.
Now, what's the instruction for the listener? "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." It's pretty easy to get wrapped up in our own world isn't it? We know our friend is going through a hard time but reaching out to them, sending a card or a text, inviting them to dinner, making a phone call take time and intentional thought. And we're busy. So we let our good intentions send a message to them...you are not important...you are forgotten...I don't care.
No, it's not always convenient to take a meal to a friend who has been sick. Yes, that phone call might take 30 minutes or 3 hours of your busy day. Yes, it will cost you some money to buy a card or send a bouquet of flowers. But it is the best use of your day. God has asked us to be a representative of His great love to the people around us. We are part of his solution to the pain and hurt of this world. But we have to be intentional about it. We have to be aware. We have to be willing to be inconvenienced.
For me this is a big deal. Honestly it's why I do this blog. There's definitely a cathartic element to it, I'd be lying if I said otherwise! But primarily I write because I want you, the reader, to know...you are not alone. I've been a lot of places and seen a lot of struggles. And I've felt alone. Often because I isolated myself, I bought the lie "no one understands me". I don't want that for you in whatever you are facing. I want you to know I am with you and more importantly God is with you...He is FOR you.
If you are in that situation where the hurt is overwhelming and you feel hope slipping away, whether for the day or for a season, turn to those who love you. Open up and be vulnerable. Let them see you. And when necessary, extend grace. If you aren't in one of those times look around you. No doubt God has placed people in your life who need your encouragement and support. Reach out, let them know they are not alone.
We are in this together.