If I'm being honest...
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Have you ever found yourself in a story that you didn’t want it to be your story?
Child of divorced parents, cancer survivor, kid of an abusive parent, sibling of an alcoholic, one with a chronic illness, a disability, victim of abuse, widow or widower, a parent of angel’s who were lost too young, infertility, affair, singleness, financial trauma…
And the list goes on and on.
Or maybe something less traumatic and yet still just plain sucks, such as anxiety, depression, an injury, a job loss, a relationship lost…
When we are living a story we don’t want to be our story, our spirituality can be a resource and it can also be salt in the wound. The salt in the wound typically comes from most often well-meaning people of faith, that say “Christiany” things that often invalidate our lived experience.
“God is always with you.” “All you need is Jesus” “When you are weak, He is strong.” “Just pray about it.”
When I’m living a story that I don’t want to be my story, these phrases are NOT helpful! They actually just make me feel worse.
AND to be honest, I don’t think they are what Jesus would say.
Let’s take a look at when Jesus encountered Mary, who’s brother, Lazarus, just died.
John 11:33-35 (TPT)
“When Jesus looked at Mary and saw her weeping at his feet, and all her friends who were with her grieving, he shuddered with emotion and was deeply moved with tenderness and compassion.
He said to them, “Where did you bury him?”
“Lord, come with us and we’ll show you, “ they replied.
Then tears streamed down Jesus’ face.
Jesus is struck with emotion, even when he knew Lazarus would be raised from the dead.
Notice what He didn’t say… “Stop crying.” “All you need is Jesus, and I’m literally right here!” “Cheer up, with God all things are possible!” “Get over it.” “It doesn’t matter.” “All things happen for a reason.”
Instead, he is overwhelmed with emotion and compassion. Let me say that again. He was overwhelmed with emotion and compassion. He feels with Mary, and then He too weeps.
When we are living a story that we don’t want to be our story, this is what we truly want. We want someone to be with us, and then to bear witness to the injustice, trauma, grief, loss that we are experiencing.
This “bearing witness” might be just holding space for us to just be (aka listening) without trying to “fix it,” it might be crying alongside us, and/or might simply saying “it’s okay if it’s not okay.” Because it’s true. It’s okay if it’s not okay.
Jesus (not always other Christian’s) always gives us permission to be honest, and invites to share the good the bad and the ugly. The Psalms are full of honesty of all shapes and sizes.
I too am learning to be honest. And I have been blown away, and frankly shocked, by the ways God has shown up.
When I was having a miscarriage a few years ago, smack dab in the middle of a story that I DID NOT want to be my story, I found my mind swirling with loads of garbage. In a brief moment of sanity, or desperation, I asked God “what do you want me to know and what do you want me to do?”
And do you want to know what He said? And I heard His voice in my spirit, more clearly than any other time in my life.
He said, “I’m so sad, and I’m so sorry.”
That was it.
And wow. It was powerful. And it changed everything in my grieving and healing process.
He could have said a million other things (or nothing at all) such as “Cheer up, you will give birth to a perfect blond-haired little cutie in just over a year…” “All you need is Jesus.” “On earth all things are temporary, you true reward is in Heaven.” “You can’t know joy if you don’t know pain.” Or any other cliché Christiany phrase.
He didn’t. When I was living a story I did not want to be my story, He simply gave me the gift of being seen as I truly was in that moment, His compassion, and permission to just be sad, because He was sad too.
In big moments and small, I’m learning to be honest. Telling God the truth, then listening for what He wants me to know and what (if anything) He wants me to do.
And it’s hard.
I’ve spent most of my life sucking it up, pulling myself up by my bootstraps, shoving stuff down, brushing it off, getting over it. It is new for me to really be honest with myself and God when I feel hurt by a friend, disappointed by a loved one, scared shitless with a work-situation, overwhelmed or burnt-out.
To be honest with myself and God, feels vulnerable and at times embarrassing. YET, if I truly want to be integrated, whole, healed and hear from Jesus, honestly is a requirement. I’m invited to be honest, and then invited to ask God what He wants me to know, and what He wants me to do.
Although it’s scary, I’m sick of the alternative. I’m sick of all the cliché Christian phrase that fall flat when I need them the most, I’m sick of all the masks, and I’m sick of the loneliness and isolation that comes when we pretend everything is okay. I’m ready to be honest (I think…yikes!). I know I’m ready to heal, I’m ready to hear and experience God. I’m ready for a change.