Her words exclaimed that I have permission to be exactly who I am, exactly in this moment, and that I am accepted. No matter how messy this heart of mine is, no matter how many tears spill over from my eyes and into my hands, no matter what. She told me that her once-father-in-law enjoys me, because I am genuinely honest and that brings a light about me.
Her exact words (months ago) were, "I know you are in a mire right now. It feels dark and deep and unGodly, but you need to remember that everyone has struggles [and valleys of death]. But most people do their best to hide them and when we witness a person with the bravery to be honest without the added expectation that the honesty is rooted in a plea for pity, but rather just a need to not be fake. You, I'm sure, do not enjoy feeling raw and damaged. But you, in turn, are inspiring and lovely to those of us fortunate enough to be close to. If we can keep out the root of bitterness, incredible pain will produce incredible strength. But it takes time. Don't give up on yourself. When you have days that you feel like you cannot believe in yourself, that is when you lean on those of us here for you."
The mask of pretending is the heaviest, worst weight to carry around.
My husband never wears a mask.
I don't desire the words in this post to be so much about me, as it is for you too. I crave for people, you, to feel the freedom that Jesus offers in being honest. Not simple honesty in answering with the truth about where you ate for dinner; but honesty in where your heart is at. Freedom in walking in the light of honesty, even when it feels like thick darkness caving in. This society has painted a facade that we are successful when we are happy, money-filled people. But where is the room to be honest when we are hungry, when we are depressed, when we are grieving, when we are barely making it? Where is the freedom for that? So often those things are looked down upon, even hushed.
She said, "You bless people with your honesty and help them feel more comfortable with the fact that they are also messed up."
If I have learned anything from the Lord Jesus this year, it has been to do my best to walk in honesty. I may be heretical. But I may not be. Honesty can be painful. It can be humiliating, especially when it feels that you're the only one. But I assure you, you are not. I have select people that I crack my heart wide open to. Every time, I have this fear gnawing at me, wondering if they will get up and ditch me. Wondering if they will call the psych ward at the hospital to come pick me up. Wondering if they will remain my friend. And every time, their eyes are soft, their hearts are accepting, and they listen. They listen and they pray and they turn to Jesus with me. They point me to Him when I feel I cannot.
It is when these precious people walk over the broken cracks of who I am and don't run away that I realize how good God is. It is when I allow others to see my ugliness, my damaged goods, my utter brokenness, that I see God in the cracks of myself. It seems backwards, but it is what I have experienced time and time again. He is in the broken cracks of who we are, especially when we take off the masks.
If we can keep out the root of bitterness, incredible pain will produce incredible strength. But it takes time.
This morning I read Psalm 50.
"What I want instead is your true thanks to God; I want you to fulfill your vows to the Most High. Trust Me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give Me glory. ... But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors Me." Psalm 50:14, 15, 22
In my raw honesty, I often tend to fall into despair. I wallow and I drown myself in all of the sad things and forget to look up and remember to give thanks. I believe we need to balance our honesty with true thanks. Even if the most you can give thanks for is the fact that you're breathing. Or, it is possible, that is not even something you're thankful for in those moments. And if that is the case, maybe you have a good friend who is worth being thankful for. I know I do. We must find ways to give thanks to our Jesus, because He is so so good. Even in the midst of chaos and unknown circumstances, He is so good.
We are doing our best to have our palms facing up, our hearts released in surrender, our honesty safeguarding us from resentment. But we must also do our best to find ways of thanks, true thanks, honest thanks. It is a sacrifice: giving thanks amidst the sadness is sacrificing the complete entitlement to bitterness. Giving thanks is sacrificing the need to be angry. Giving thanks is sacrificing the idea that we know what's best.
Some things I am thankful for right now: I am thankful for my husband, who brings so much laughter into our home and our life, no matter what is happening.
I am thankful for the close community of people I have surrounding us, bringing us food when we need it, and offering prayers up on our behalf.
I am thankful for bananas and chicken sausage and eggs and broccoli.
I am thankful for the warm sky.
What are you thankful for?