“My brokenness is a better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.”
I was putting away clothes in my daughter’s closet when I overheard a conversation my daughter was having with her cousin. Although they talked on the phone often, this conversation seemed odd. Both girls were struggling with school and loneliness, yet neither one of them voiced their struggles. They are both walking through a difficult transition of going from homeschooling to private school. Both have cried themselves to sleep, and both have had mean girls be mean. For some reason, neither one of them talked about their struggles.
“School is going good.”
Good? Nothing is going good? Why did she just say that?
And I waited. Hoping my daughter would share some of her pain and loneliness. She didn’t. She hung up a few minutes later, and I asked her why she didn’t share anything.
“I don’t know. Just seems easier not to.”
I get it. It can be challenging and risky to be vulnerable to discuss the messy parts of our lives. However, we need to stop buying into this lie that it is just easier not to share and open up.
I recalled this memory vividly when I sat across from a woman who kept fidgeting to keep herself from crying. She bit her bottom lip, and crossed and uncrossed her legs, trying to put words to her pain. Finally, it came out of her in one long breath…every Christian she befriended had turned their back on her as she was going through her divorce. Her eyes welled up with tears, and I could feel all the weariness and heaviness of what she went through. Three years can be exhausting when you’re doing it alone.
She attempted to understand their viewpoint, “They just didn’t know what to do or say.” It’s true, most of us don’t know what to do with messy and imperfect, so we do the easiest thing and run away from our hurting friends or band aid them with our Christian lingo.
Multiple times I have sat in a crowded living room with women who longed for a deeper relationship with Jesus. As one woman begins to share deep hurts she is walking through, the whole place clams up. Except for the one woman who thinks a Christian cliché will help. You know the ones…
“God works all things out for the good that love Him,” or “If God closes one door, another will open,” or “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
Some of these statements are not even Biblical, yet we say them when we don’t know what else to say. If I have learned anything the last few years it is; when a friend is hurting, either say “sorry” or nothing at all.
To allow their brokenness to sit next to yours without judgment, do nothing but listen and respond with love. The truth is, most of us need another human to see past our brokenness to spark hope where there has been no hope. There is a deep longing in all of us to share our story, even if it is messy and doesn’t have a happy ending yet.
We often fail to realize the importance of relationships. Open. Vulnerable relationships. God has given us one another.
And I looked into her eyes, that day, unsure of what to say, but “sorry.” Sometimes it’s moments like this that shake you awake to the reality of how important it is to be present to people, even when it is hard, and you don’t understand what they are going through, without judgment.
For three years the woman I sat across from had to contend with rejection. Isolated and an outcast, she chose not to step foot into a church for three years.
Her story is like so many stories of women feeling alone because of their sin or just the messiness of life.
Life is hard. Life is a battle. And who knew listening over a cup of coffee could slay the dragons of loneliness and isolation.
And who knew listening over a cup of coffee could slay the dragons of loneliness and isolation.
Honestly, I have made a mess of relationships in the past. Not allowing others to grieve their losses, and wanting to fix them and their situations with Christian lingo rather than being comfortable with silence.
Personally, I’ve been on the other side of the table, knowing I didn’t measure up and just needed a friend to confide in without judgment. Fear of rejection held me back from being vulnerable until I realized this is not what God had in mind for his daughters. In the Bible, He speaks of community and oneness. Bearing one another burdens. Laying hands and praying for each other.
In Jesus’ name, we can throw away the masks we wear and stop pretending we are all “good”. Let’s allow the walls to come down, calling others to the marvelous Hope of the Gospel through the simple act of listening and loving.