Goodness, watching the news or scrolling through social media can make you sad and glad. Can’t it?
Just this week, I watched two powerful videos that had me grinning from ear to ear. I smiled with tears, moved by beautiful stories. But in the span of two days, tears surfaced for altogether different reasons. The world heard about two apparent suicides from celebrities.
Several celebrity suicides and deaths have occurred in the last few years and these are just the tragedies we hear about. These are the deaths widely broadcasted. It brings awareness to pain, but the awareness fades with the next glimpse of glory.
Deep hurt and heart-loneliness don’t just impact celebrities. At some level we know this, but we’re quick to forget. It’s all around us.
Depression hits so many people in different ways and to various extremes. Mental and emotional health take a toll on all walks of life, without regard for who you are, what you do, or who knows you.
People all around you, and maybe you too, are suffering right now. Today.
We cannot escape the pain of this world. We’re in desperate need for the Hope of our next world.
You might be surprised who in your life is crawling under the covers again and finds it hard to get out of bed. Who’s reaching for the next quick fix to deal with the pain, but it’s never enough and it only makes things worse. Who’s crying heaps of tears wondering if the pain will ever go away. Sometimes the reasons are clear and sometimes there seems to be no reason at all.
There are days when it’s me and there might be days when it’s you too.
We rarely know what others are dealing with. We can never fully comprehend the extent. They may not tell you and they may not realize how much it’s affecting them either. It may be you who’s terrified to tell another.
When it comes to presenting ourselves to others, pretense comes easier than realness.
Real is the cry of our hearts before pretense even begins to suffocate our souls.
Genuine, healthy connection and care with others anchor lives that live wholly true from the inside out. This requires bravery that rises up through fear to take just one more step with God’s guidance.
This kind of change doesn’t happen overnight and if we don’t choose it, it won’t happen at all.
We need each other. We need real life others in our real lives.
And I don’t just mean actual people.
I mean people who are real about who they are and who they want to be. People with conversations about real struggles, pains, sin, and secrets. We all have them. We need to learn how to hear one another at a heart-level and not just a head-level.
But we’re afraid. We’ve been hurt by others who’ve been hurt by others. We don’t know what we don’t know and we’re scared to know anything other than what we do.
Why go deep when Insta-faith and positive monikers makes us wish, “If only it were true for me too.”?
A piece of my story – depression, anxiety, PTSD
Five years ago, we came home from an intense season of serving. We lived on a ranch of 156 acres owned by a foster agency and we cared for up to 12 children at a time and the agency offices were on the other side of our living room. The battles we faced were intense in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.
I’m still healing.
My journey began when I couldn’t make it off the bed or a cozy chair for more than a few minutes or hours at a time. Despite the strong internal motivation I have to get things done, to dream, to try new things, and to clear out the junk, I wrestled through such trauma and stress overload that I wondered if I’d make it through the day without dying from an avalanche of pain.
An elder at our church took a look at me and said I showed signs of PTSD. He was rightfully concerned. I could barely breathe without tears and shaking. Things had to change. So I took steps towards what I didn’t know and barely believed could be.
Steps towards a different way of living through cultivating the things in my heart and soul.
This wasn’t the first time I’d been wrecked by pain, relational turmoil, and internal combustion. Decades before I spent a summer in the eating disorders unit of a hospital. Not so much because of the eating issues, but because of significant depression and self-harm.
During my hospitalization I realized my external behaviors were signs of internal pain. I made a decision not to hide from others anymore. Unfortunately, I still didn’t know how to do it in a healthy way and I couldn’t see how I still hid the real me.
I’m still surfacing.
It’s taken the last five years of intentional healing to find the level of freedom I experience today. There are still days when my brain struggles to remember I’m OK.
The thing about hiding is sometimes you get so used to it you don’t even realize you’re still doing it.
When you start to feel the light on your face one day and then a little more the next, you start to notice the shadows you’ve been living in.
Under the facade of “I’m fine,” which we tell ourselves and others, are a host of unhealthy belief systems, unhealed hurts, unexpressed emotions, and unconfessed sins. When we’re too afraid to deal with them, they find deeper crevices to hide in until we refuse to acknowledge they could even be there.
A hidden heart slowly becomes hardened to the things of God.
An exposed heart becomes pliable to the transforming power of God.
God the Father demands our whole heart. Jesus made a way for us to give it. The Holy Spirit helps us reveal it.
We need God every single day and in every single way.
What we try to hide is never hidden to him. How He must cry when we keep heading back to the place of shame and covering.
Can you hear Him now? “I came to give you life. To set you Free.”
He never condemns us for feeling fear or pain. Not even for acting out of anger and bitterness. He reminds us that He has what we need to get through it. Not only to the other side, but transformed along the way.
Who will go first?
Who will reach out and say the truth about what’s going on inside of them and not just the truth they think others need to hear?
Who will be brave enough to say, “Yeah, underneath my successes and smiles, I’m actually hurting. Truth be told, I can barely take the pain anymore.”
Maybe you need to say, “I’m angry. My responses are not healthy and I don’t know what to do with that.”
Maybe you need a safe friend who can just listen as the sludge in your heart comes to the surface. This kind of oil gusher isn’t what many of us know how to deal with, but most of need somewhere to do so.
We need safe people in our lives and we need to be safe people in the lives of others.
If we want to be a people connected in real ways to the real in another person, we need to be real too.
If we want to help others who are in pain we must start admitting the things in our own souls that aren’t whole.
Brokenness is not a barrier, it’s a bridge.
To cross it we need to take steps.
Who will go first?