I think one of the greatest disservices we do to each other is not being vulnerable and honest about what is going on in our lives.
I think the next greatest disservice is to shut someone down when they do open up.
I think we have all fallen victim to committing both of these infractions against ourselves and against others. Our initial reaction is to either fix it for someone else if they’re going through or if it’s us, it’s to suck it up and show no weakness. But both make us miss out on so much.
We are preparing for my son to have open heart surgery Monday.
My first inclination has been to suck it up and not be emotional about it. Not to admit to anyone how I really feel or break down crying because it’s a really big deal and I’m feeling all sorts of different ways about it.
So I’ve held it in until today, when I read a line in a book* that made the floodgates open. And I realized how much I needed to cry and how much I needed to be able to feel the feelings that are there and are going to be there even if I ignore them and pretend they’re not there.
I needed to be able to cry and admit how this is affecting me and where I’m at emotionally with it and not feel one ounce of shame about that.
Often times as humans it hurts us to see other people hurting so we try to make it go away, try to say something to make the other person feel better, to not have to deal with the toughness of it all, to say something, anything so that we feel we’ve at least done something.
We respond with quick answers like “Don’t worry,” “It will all work out”,“ “At least you’re not going through what this person over there is going through,” “Just trust God”, “It’s all going to be okay.”
These responses though often convey to the other person that they should not feel the way they are feeling, as though us telling them not to feel hurt or pain or worry is going to make the hurt, pain, or worry go away.
I have been the perpetrator of this and the victim of it.
And it goes directly against the way we have been designed as human beings. People, including ourselves, are going to experience hard things.
Life is not easy and life is not void of negative situations and emotions, yet we seek to avoid both at all costs, and to keep others from experiencing them as well. And as a result we miss out on a depth to our lives and relationships that we could be experiencing by opening ourselves up and really allowing others to do the same.
So for this, as we walk through my son having another open heart surgery, I am going to be honest when someone asks how I’m doing.
I’m going to say this is hard. It is, there’s no way around it.
And admitting that doesn’t mean I’m not trusting God, that I’ve lost my faith or that I’m not praying about it. It just means I’m being honest, letting the people around me know that I’m not always strong, and that things are difficult right now.
And one of my prayers is that when others around me are going though challenging times, that my response to them will not hinder them from letting it out either. I pray that I will respond in a way that lets them know it’s okay to feel the way they feel, and with the understanding that they are not looking to me for advice on what to do or feel, but looking for me to just be there no matter what their feelings, fears or anxieties are with no judgment, no condemnation.
I don’t want to hold it in anymore and I don’t want to be a part of making anyone else hold it in anymore either.
Let’s Talk: How do you handle letting people in when you’re going through challenges or experiencing a difficult season? How do you respond to people when they let you in on the challenges they are going through?
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