When was the last time you had a real conversation with someone? I’m talking about a conversation that had depth, that went beyond “things are good.” I think we are so accustomed to being asked how we are doing that without a thought we offer up the response of, “I’m fine.” But are we? On the flipside, when we ask someone how they are doing are we really ready for an honest response? In our fast-paced lives do we have time for that? I have probably told people I was fine hundreds of times when I really wasn’t. Now, let me tell you I am not advising you to share your life story with every person you pass. It is just I feel like we don’t really know each other. Sure we know the surface stuff and see all the happy pictures on facebook that present an image of having it all together, but do we really know what those around us are experiencing and do we feel like we can share our innermost thoughts?
Years ago when I decided to open up about our infertility journey, I did it for a couple reasons. One was because I found writing to be therapeutic. Sometimes just letting it all out brought peace to my soul. Another reason, was because I knew I wasn’t alone and hoped to show others experiencing the same thing that what they were feeling was okay. If me being open and honest, despite that meaning I would share some things I was less than proud of, helped one person then I felt it was worth it. To me, it is easy to sit here and type out my thoughts ushering in some comfort and relief. Sometimes it is harder to do the same thing in person. I may feel like the person may not want to truly know how I’m feeling or maybe I don’t want to be vulnerable in front of someone.
I will tell you, though, that being open and real with people shows them you are human. Everyone has struggles and most of those struggles are kept deep down barely shared with anyone. I do not mean you have to air out all your dirty laundry and it should most certainly not be a way to bash your spouse to someone else. But, doesn’t it feel good when you can share a struggle and someone gets it or has just the right word of encouragement?
A few weeks ago I was feeling very down about our finances. Cutting our income in half by us choosing for me to stay home was weighing heavily on me. My husband suggested I go shopping with my mother-in-law. Let me stop here for a second and tell you that I LOVE my mother-in-law! I was blessed with one of the best! When your husband says he will watch the kids so you can go out you don’t turn him down. As I started walking through the store I found myself pining for all the fashionable clothes and household decor. I longed for the day of going shopping and actually being able to purchase something. At some point me and my pity party met back up with my mother-in-law. We started talking and I opened up about my feelings. Y’all, I was crying in the Marshalls next to the underwear and bras while talking to my mother-in-law. But you know what….it was just what I needed. I could have bottled it all up and continued to feel sorry for myself not being able to buy junk I don’t actually need, but I didn’t. I chose to not say, “I’m fine.” I chose to tell her how I was struggling with our new lifestyle. Now, I also want to share that I wouldn’t change it for anything. I am over the moon excited to be home with my children. It is the greatest blessing. That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle, though, and in that Marshalls the Lord used this godly woman to put everything back into perspective. You see, she has lived it. She raised six children with her husband who worked a security job. All the emotions I was sharing, that were not exactly pretty, were emotions she had felt. As she acknowledged feeling those same things at different points she also had the wisdom to encourage me. She had the scripture to comfort me and was able to remind me that this is just a season. The best part was that I could share my deepest feelings with her and knew she wouldn’t judge me.
I tell you this story to let you see that beautiful things can come from opening up to a friend or family member. I went from feeling sorry for myself to walking out of that store beaming over what the Lord has done in my life and feeling like I could get through this tough time because He will take care of my family. I just needed someone to remind me of those things. I needed someone to take the time to share her story and how the Lord grew her through those times. What a blessing!
So, don’t feel like you always have to keep everything in all the time. Also, make an effort to be willing for others to share with you. Sitting down over a cup of coffee can bring about a conversation you had not planned but can lead to healing and encouragement. Be real. Be open. Be willing. The Lord can use us to help each other out. This life is hard. Let’s truly be there for one another. Let’s bear one another’s burdens.
How are you doing today?