It seems that lately, more of my friends and acquaintances are sharing their problems with me. As a psychology/counseling major, this is something that actually makes me feel good; I am happy that others feel safe coming to me to bare their souls, or sometimes just to vent. Part of me wishes that I had some profound, godly, wonderful advice to give that would help my friends to say, “Yes! That is just what I needed!” Most often times, though, I am just as perplexed as they are. Sometimes I just listen, nod, and offer to pray for them (this is not a bad thing, mind you). And sometimes I feel myself holding back the words that might just help the most … “I understand what you are going through, and this is why.”
Why are we so guarded with our own lives? I’m not talking about airing your world on social media for everyone to see. I’m talking about one-on-one, someone needs help, I truly DO understand the situation, but God forbid I allow my vulnerability to show. Is it a desire to appear perfect? Is it a mistrust of others? Is it really just none of your business what I’ve been through?
First and foremost, God has forgiven my past through the blood and mercy of Jesus Christ. I AM a new creation in Him! And if you have given your life to Jesus, then YOU are too! Romans 8:1 (NASB) tells us, “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Our pasts no longer have reign over us. If anyone judges us based on our pasts, remember that they are not our final Judge … that would be God, and God has forgiven our sins.
Even so, it can be extremely difficult to rip the band-aid off that old wound, even if that means helping someone who is currently going through that experience. We never like to portray ourselves in a negative light. Yet the Bible paints a different picture.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NASB).
Our purpose in life is to glorify God. God makes all things new – including our messes. He takes that ugly past and allows it to be used to help someone else. Maybe it’s to help someone else to break free of that bondage. Maybe it’s just to let someone know, “Hey! You’re not the only one!” After all, isn’t that what we really need to hear? You. Are. Not. Alone.
What about the present? God doesn’t just use our past experiences to help others; He uses our day-to-day lives. We are careful to keep our happy faces on when we are around others. While it is absolutely great to be uplifting and positive, we … I … need to let people in, so that God can once again let people know they are not the only ones. The Christian walk isn’t all sunshine and roses. We still struggle. Christ struggled all the way to Golgotha and up on to the cross! Should we expect no pain? Christ never wavered; He kept His eyes on God. We are to do the same. Friend, there truly is a peace in Him that allows me to go through trials in a way I never could when I walked without Him. There is faith. There is hope. To the unbeliever, it may sound crazy – but I know in my heart that even if a bad situation turns out for the worst, it is not the end of the world because this life is just a blip in eternity. There will come a day with no more tears, no more suffering, and eternal joy in heaven. Matthew 10:28 (NASB) reads, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The trials of this world are temporary; in the end, Jesus is Lord forever … and I love Him.
I do not need to fear transparency. God has called me … and all of us … to it. Yes, there must be discretion. However, when it comes to ministering to others, some of the best counseling comes from letting our guard down a bit and really showing people they are not alone in their struggles. My husband preached this morning and admitted to our church that yes, pastors’ lives are messed up too! Satan isn’t just attacking you … he has his sights set on all of us. As Christians, we all have a common enemy – but praise God, we all have a common Savior too!
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NASB)
So to be honest, I struggle. I struggle with depression. I struggle financially. I struggle with not only using food for comfort, but hiding behind being overweight as a barrier to protect myself from being the woman I was in my past. I struggle with being a wife and a mother and trying to do it all right. I struggle with witnessing to others about my faith. I struggle with standing up for what is right when those around me are knee-deep in tearing others down. I am human. How about you?