on isolation and emotional honesty

I started to type this (my 251st post) and suddenly “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” started playing on my pandora station.  And now my thoughts are somehow settled and scattered all at once because the rant I was about to embark on seems silly in light of “Just from Jesus simply taking life and rest and joy and peace.” So I will venture a different way.

During our discussion in church on Sunday night, we were talking about the idea of being vulnerable to those around us, specifically in confession. One person asked the question,”But why must I tell others of my sin?  Why can I not lay it before the Lord and let Him deal with me?”  I think this is a good question, particularly in a time where accountability groups are cliche and confession is something done on facebook but not in person (a trend which I am finding sadly true of me: the ability to be vulnerable as a writer but not as a friend, daughter,  wife, etc.) What is the value in truly bearing my soul, particularly the ugliness of my wicked heart, to another person?

And I thought of  a story in my own life which I shared, and would like to share with you.

Several weeks ago I was getting discouraged by my house, the pseudo-unpackedness of several rooms.  In our typical fashion, we moved in, spent a few weeks unpacking, and then moved on.  So there are several rooms in desperate need of attention, rooms that I skip on tours of the house and keep doors permanently closed as much as possible. In the reality of everyday life, it is enough to keep us clothed, fed, and little people not splashing in the toilet or eating sand.  The project of actually digging things out and working to whittle away and organize seems far beyond my current ability.

The state of the playroom in particular was distressing.  So I set out to tackle it, motivated strongly by the fact that friends would be coming to visit and need to sleep in there. As in every project, it got worse before it got better.  I fought the urge to stuff it into the basement or under the bed, but tried to really deal with things and find a place.  When the dust settled and all was said and done, we had a new room, one that is clean and usable and pleasant.  

Looking around at this new room that had just opened up to me, my soul cheered.  I literally threw my hands above my head and let out a victory cry.  Then I thought, as we women do, Who can I call to celebrate this with me? Who can appreciate this transformation? And I realized that there was no one. Not that I don’t have friends, but I had not really let anyone see the playroom in it’s desperate state, so no one could really appreciate the change.

And I felt a lesson settling on me from above.  So many dark corners of my heart, struggles of years and on, that I do not want anyone to know.  Doors that I close when the topic comes up. Rooms that I do not include on the tour of my life. And yet, as Christ works in me and I am freed and changed and broken, no one in my life can really rejoice in this miracle because I did not let them see the reality of the situation. 

Sure, I can say, “Hey- I use to be a worrier but Christ is freeing me.” And then they can say, “Wow, that’s great.”  But that, at best, is mildly encouraging.  Instead, in my great moment of anxiety or fear or pride or selfishness, I could cry out to a friend and let them see the reality of the situation: that this area is a total, useless mess and I desperately need Jesus to do something big.  And then that friend could know firsthand that, yes, this is in fact a HUGE mess and you do need to cry to Jesus.  And then as Jesus works, my friend could also be encouraged by the evident work of Christ, by their own role in praying and encouraging me, and perhaps have courage to deal with their own messes.  What would Christianity be like if it was less of a ritual and more of a battle fought together, side by side, striving against the evil in the world and the evil waging war on my soul?

Indeed, I feel deep regret for the ways I have spent so much energy trying to appear that my house, literally and figuratively, was all in order.  

I have excuses, ways I justify not being transparent.  My main one is that I don’t really have the time or opportunity to talk on a personal level with people.  This excuse was shattered as I sat in Burger King last week.  I met a friend for lunch and, after eating, the boys were tearing around the play place and Ella was shopping for shoes (also known as going through the little cubbies where people store shoes…yes, this is her idea of fun).  And then and there, in the middle of Burger King, my friend poured out her heart and soul so honestly that, as I pondered it later, it took my breath away.  She was broken, she was not proud of the things that were hiding in the dark closets of her heart, but she was committed to saying them.  I felt stirred…moved…convicted….inspired.  

I prayed with more heart and passion because I understood her brokenness, her complete realization that only Jesus could bring hope to her situation. And He did, praise God, He did bring hope so sweetly. 

When we hide rooms, lock closets, gloss over our little flaws, minimize our struggles, we rob each other of our ability to minister, to love, to extend grace, to be bearers of hope. 

What is it we fear, that the truth will be too much for others to handle?  That in admitting it we will be held accountable to deal with it? Perhaps the greatest fear is that we will lay it all out, let our souls be laid bare in front of someone, and they will look in disgust at the sin that plagues us, and their disgust will simply mirror the disgust we have for ourselves. 

But I am convinced that Jesus made us for more. 

Something funny is happening in me, and I find myself thinking things that I never thought possible.  I don’t want people to listen to me or know me or even read this blog and think, “Sheesh….she sure has it together.  Wish I could be more _________.”  I want people to know me and think, “She is a mess. Jesus sure is at work. If she can be of use in the kingdom, surely I can as well. ” I want to be a picture of humanity, not saintliness. I am so tired of the culture of Christianity that breeds us all to plaster smiles and shake hands and sit in small groups where we pretend that Christ is supreme in our hearts and minds, when inside we are lonely, tired, tormented, bored, confused and a myriad of other feelings that we feel there is no room to share. 

As Dr. Larry Crabb says, are you living an unobserved life? Are there secrets, too dark, painful, or private to share?  How will you find hope and healing if you do not cry for help? Surely the great Healer is there, but often He allows His children to be part of that healing process in each other’s lives. 

Well, there goes post 251. It’s always such a challenge to wrap these things up- don’t you think?  Here goes…

I want to be honest- with my friends, my family, my neighbors, my readers, myself.  Not that there needs to be the total-closet-cleanout-honesty with all these people, but that there is a commitment to communicate myself just as I am.  No shining things up a bit, no stash-n-dash of piles around the house, no dying the gray hair, no fake “everything is fine” when it just isn’t. 

Because in the end, I am OK with me.  Not because being me is such an OK thing, but because Jesus is OK with me. 

0 thoughts on “on isolation and emotional honesty”

  1. Denise told me about your blog on Sunday, so I visited for the first time on Monday. Today is my second visit. Very timely! I can so relate. I've been battling all day, trying in my interior world to get back–past all the messy rooms full of idols–to the clean, restful room where Jesus resides and waits for me! My husband has encouraged me to contact or write someone to help in the battle, but I've held off because I couldn't think of anyone local to share the mess with. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  2. Also loved how your post began with the reference to the hymn “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” Thought I'd copy and past the previous stanza and the whole stanza from which you quoted in case there are other struggling saints who read this. I myself am now taking that leap, asking him to once again plunge me 'neath that cleansing flood.

    O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to trust His cleansing blood;
    And in simple faith to plunge me
    ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

    Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just from sin and self to cease;
    Just from Jesus simply taking
    Life and rest, and joy and peace.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Becky, I think that I needed to become aware of this in my own life.

    Congrats on 251! I eagerly read your posts so keep 'em comin'!


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