Every week I hear from stressed-out women dealing with enormous upheaval in their lives. I’m glad they can talk about it. Too many can’t. For a minute, it makes my problems seem small. For a MINUTE, mind you. Then I wake up to the drama of my own life. It does no good to compare my issues with anyone else’s, or work up gratefulness to suppress the malaise, or minimize my trials. It is what it is, and we all have stuff we’re facing.
I just let God sort me out right where I am, even though plenty folks would love the opportunity. God likes it when I’m real. So do I. Much better than exerting useless energy trying to get others to like me when I first need to accept myself. In my world, I still deal with losses, look for ways to de-stress, accept my circumstances, find the joy anyway, and replace my stinkin’ thinking with the truth. You might say I’m being transformed by the daily reprogramming of my stinkin’ thinkin’.
What if how we respond to life is half the battle?
Some of our stress feels hoisted onto us through unexpected events. I call these the avalanches of life, when we’re hit full force by death, a diagnosis, divorce – name your own avalanche. These are bone-crushing changes, mostly out of our control.
The chronic daily stuff, however – what I call the drip-drip stresses of life – will eat at us over time. Some of this we can change, or at least the way we respond or react. One day we wake up and realize we’ve been held hostage to a bad attitude for 30 years. And no wonder! We spent decades living for everyone else! Maybe the only time we felt truly comfortable with God was when we were clicking away pretty good on that religious treadmill . . . but, oh dear. . . then the treadmill broke. What does God think of us now?
Sadly, we might discover everything from our faith to our relationships have probably suffered a quiet erosion, even the little self-worth we thought we had. That is, if we believe that brokenness belongs to others, and not us.
Surprise. We’re all broken.
Why else do we try to hide it? Why else do we stand in the need of constant grace?
Brennan Manning once wrote:
If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated not become a light for others. We cling to our bad feelings and beat ourselves with the past when what we should do is let go.
Why do we try so hard to maintain appearances when our insides are falling apart? Is that why we hide behind pious phrases, cliches, and religiosity? To appear more spiritual? This is a dilemma. For if we won’t come out of hiding, there’s fear. But perfect love casts out all fear. So hiding must indicate we’re not really believing we’re loved – or am I making sense here? To know love is to drop the charade. To be free to be exactly who we are. We no longer need to perform; we need only to believe. If we did believe, wouldn’t that stop us from projecting all our insecurities onto others? Wouldn’t that ease the feeling of fear and shame? What do you think? What’s your journey been like?
I’ve so appreciated your good comments this week. So many beautiful sojourners here. Thank you for joining in.
Your sister scribe,