I woke up this morning with a few heavy issues on my mind. I found myself thinking how few people know about those heavy issues, how some of those heart-hurts I have shared only with God. That is is not a bad thing at all. I’m thankful my Father controls the universe and yet cares enough to hear my cry whenever I call; that I don’t need to hide anything from Him–it would, after all, be a complete waste of time. I’m so thankful that He alone knows the worst of me because He alone can forgive it and only His Spirit can change it. It did make me think about how many people may feel like they are all alone in those moments.
All of us do hide a bit from others and from ourselves even. Actually, we are all pretty good at hiding the worst stuff. Just look at Facebook if you doubt that. While I usually just scroll down the homepage and glance over the posts of the people I have friended and the orgs I follow, today I clicked on my own profile and looked backward: graduation, lots of fun with Patrick and Alexa and Lydia and Colten and Mike, Verizon rant, Christmas, lots of laughter with my mom and brother and sisters and neices and nephews, family vacation, posts about my faith in Jesus, accomplishments and activities of clients, birthday celebrations, a beautiful wedding, the loss of fathers.
Life scrolling by on a screen . . .
That life scrolling by on Facebook omits a lot of truth about our dark and painful moments. I don’t know about you, but I grew up being reminded OFTEN not to “air our dirty laundry.” Having actually grown up hanging freshly washed clothes on an outdoor line that phrase painted a very clear picture for me. It’s great to hang out the clean stuff, the crisp white sheets, on the line for everybody to see –but not the gunk. Sure, some of the greatest heartbreaks of my life are out there on the line–shared with people I know, my church, and sometimes posted on my Facebook page: prayer requests for people I love diagnosed with cancer, the deep loss of Papa and Poppy less than a year apart, my sweet momma’s devastating battle with Alzheimer’s. But, the deep wounds and fears and tragedies we ALL face in our lives that make us feel vulnerable, ashamed, heartbroken, isolated, lonely or afraid–those are almost entirely missing from Facebook and rarely shared even with closest friends.
Facebook is my clean laundry line. It is most people’s clean laundry lines. I’m not likely to change that, but don’t let my Facebook page or the outward appearance of my life fool you for one second. Facebook is just a visible exageration of how we interact with each other in general. We keep interactions at a safe, surface level. We put our best foot forward. At our best, we try not to burden people with problems they can’t help, they didn’t cause. At worst, we pose and pretend so that others will be impressed with us or swayed by us or buy from us. Don’t let all the advertisements that try to manipulate you or the posts you scroll through or all the facades on the faces around you fool you for even one second. You are not alone. Your life is not the only life that is hard or turned upside down. Your family is not the only messy family.
You are not alone. When I scroll through Facebook posts, I wonder why it seems like everyone else is having fun when I’m knee-deep in housework. Why other women so much _____-er than I am? (Fill in the blank with the comparison-beat-down-adjective-of-the-moment, prettier or skinnier or smarter or healthier or happier or nicer . . . Why do we do that?!) You are not alone in the pain of broken relationships that scar the heart. I love 5 people deeply and have lost relationship with them to varying degrees–from some superficial and very limited interaction to not even knowing where they are. You aren’t alone when you look at your online banking with fear and doubt. We have faced a few pretty serious financial struggles (almost always my own fault but life can also throw a mean curveball).
You aren’t alone–whether you are single, divorced, married or widowed. I’m not where you are, and you aren’t where I am. I may have at some point been where you are, and you may at some point have been where I am. If you are single and happy about it–I was there a day or two. If you are single and lonely or heartbroken, I have lived there for a while. If you are married and happy–I have some stories you might recognize. If you are married and struggling–well, let’s just say, I’m closing in on 30 years of marriage. (I’ve heard some people claim a marriage with little conflict. I’m pretty sure they are delusional or lying). Raised on Disney fairytales in a culture that mocks monogamy, with the prince of this world perpetuating lies to destroy family, two broken and sinful people trying to stay married is a battle, and battles that don’t end in retreat are usually pretty brutal. On good days, we remember who the enemy is, but the battle is still bloody, we lose track of mission, and one of the greatest dangers can be “friendly fire.” Life is hard. You are not alone.
I am not facing what you are facing and the hardships in my life may be nothing compared to yours. The truth is that life is full of the blessings of God. Sometimes I just become mopey and negative because I take all the blessings for granted. But, sometimes my life is battered by my own sin, the sin of others, and the chaos of a broken world. Heartbreak sometimes grows heavy in my life, and sometimes in your life. In all those moments, you are not alone. We are much more alike than different because we are created in God’s image. That we are not the only ones with problems or heartbreaks is some comfort. I am grateful for people who understand what I am facing, but the best news is that God didn’t just create us so that we can help one another; but rather He, the God of all creation, pursues relationship with us and promises we can come to Him and never be alone.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for God has said: “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6