I see it in their eyes, when they ask me to step out on the fringes and move to the corner of the room to talk, across the table over plates of salad, with hands hanging on to the handles of grocery carts in an empty aisle, when they admit what they are enduring and I’m not fazed by it. I witness the healing power of empathy as the outcome of their courageous confession. Life isn’t always as pretty as it looks on the outside, you know that don’t you?
We’re all just waiting for permission to be honest.
She sits at the corner of the table, legs in faded skinny jeans extended in the aisle instead of underneath the table; a bang valance hangs over the windows of her soul, black eyeliner smudged underneath. A maroon streak at the crown of her head fades into shades of pink lying on her shoulders.
Small, slender fingers hold the bubbled crust on a slice of pepperoni, she stops chewing as she listens to a piece of my story mirroring her young life. And the upturned corners of her mouth move quickly to a wrinkled pout.
A few moments later she reveals a circumstance she struggles to work out. And so begins our relationship.
I can’t do small talk; I’ve never been good at it. I fall asleep during movies that are void of relationship. Maybe it’s because I’m an ENFP (if you understand Myers-Briggs speak). I’ve learned to accept that part of the way God has created me to reveal Himself, is diving into the deep end of truth after a few laps warming up in the shallow end. If you’re too afraid to go there with me, I might have to leave you floating on the surface by yourself.
There’s false thinking I’ve seen cultivated among Christian circles regarding being transparent about “bad” emotions – anger, sadness, fear, guilt, grief, and jealousy – that admission somehow reveals a dark hole in your faith. Why is it easier to live in the swell of contradiction than the light of truth?
Confession releases us from being suffocated by circumstances and consequences, and sets us free to become fully human.
Last week, I told H for the hundredth time that I’m tired of crying.
I’ve cried almost every day for longer than I can remember. I cry when I circle the same patch of self-doubt I thought I conquered. I cry about loneliness and the silence of His voice as I plead for answers. I cry over the mistakes I make daily in parenting my children, for the absence of parenting in my own life and how it affects my relationships. I cry when I watch You Tube videos and movies about redemption from brokenness. I cried most of the morning when I got this in my inbox last week
I’m tired of looking at my red, blotchy face and reapplying mascara but instead of hiding my tears, I’m embracing them. Because my tears aren’t about feeling sorry for myself, they are an indicator of understanding the compassion of Jesus. I’m growing into someone who sees people for who they are on the inside first, weeping thankful over the kindness of His redemption.
Jesus didn’t come for your perfect status updates. He came for your loss, disappointment, and heartbreak. In conquering adversity we become people of hopefulness. Did you know that hope is learned, it isn’t something you are born with? Confessing a struggle you’re keeping to yourself opens the door to freedom from entanglement . . . . for both of us.
Last week, I did that. I admitted on Facebook that I had a hard week and dared people to join me in sharing something they are thankful for that isn’t bright and shiny. It felt like I opened the altars of a dusty, abandoned church. My mouth is still drawn open by the beauty of it.
As we walk into a week themed with thankfulness, I give you permission to be honest. Tell me something you are thankful for that isn’t perfectly pretty and let’s watch God redeem it, shall we?