I honestly used to believe that most of the people around me, particularly Christians, had their lives pretty much under control. I thought I was the oddball in the group. When trouble came, as it does in every life, my first reaction was to hide it—hide it and look cool.
Whenever a conversation with a friend would get close to touchy areas in my life, I assumed the typical superficial “I’m trusting God for everything” mask, or risk being a spiritual misfit. If I dared to speak of a need in my life, I was usually told that the answers to all of life’s problems are in the Bible.
I knew that, but my spiritual depression only grew blacker, for I had searched to find God’s answers. I had confessed every sin I could remember. I had begged God’s forgiveness for those and for sins I couldn’t remember. I had sought God’s will. All of this, and yet I had no feeling of peace.
My only conclusion plunged me to the very depths of despair. Maybe God wasn’t sufficient for all of my needs after all, and all the Biblical instruction I had received all my life was a lie. Yet I couldn’t accept that either. I had to believe, because if there wasn’t God, there was nothing.
I went on living the Christian life, serving in my local church, desperately seeking to know God better. The doubts and fears, however, I hid from other Christians. Then something happened which forced our family into the public eye. The frustrations and failures could be hidden no longer. Even if I wanted to deny what was happening—and I did, oh, how I did—I could not. So my husband and I squared our shoulders and faced the world.
I had expected condemnation from the members of our church, but most rallied around us. Prayer meetings became times of worship, sharing, and tears.
When the initial shock wore off, I thought my friends would go on with their lives and forget our problems. That didn’t happen. One dear lady came to me more than once saying, “You didn’t sleep well last night, did you?”
Startled, I would look at her and ask, “How did you know?”
“I couldn’t sleep either. You were so much on my mind, I knew you were having trouble again, so I stayed awake and prayed with you.” Her home is miles away from mine!
As time went by, other Christians with problems similar to ours came to me, just to talk. I didn’t have to say much, which was good, since I’ve never claimed to have all the answers. Sometimes all I did was squeeze a hand in understanding and whisper, “I’m praying for you,” and my friend was comforted.
I began to wonder why people were coming to me. These Christians who had once seemed so godly and mature had problems just like mine. Why had I never heard about this before?
Then I understood. Whether I wanted to or not, I had been forced to bring my problems into the public eye. Somebody had to be first. Somebody had to have the guts to admit she wasn’t perfect, and that somebody was me. What were the results? First, when I verbalized my problem, I defined it. I learned exactly what I was dealing with. Second, I reached out for help and found the Christian community is not made up of super spiritual, pious do-gooders, but rather they are needy people just like me. I learned those people were willing to help me.
I discovered that by finding enough courage to say, “I’m afraid. I need help,” other people found the courage to admit they needed help as well. I found that when I reached out to encourage another person, by some queer twist of God’s dealings, I was encouraged, too.
At one time, I was convinced I would never live through this problem that threatened to destroy my home. Through it I have learned I am nothing and God is everything. I don’t have to put on an act when I have a personal problem. I don’t think we necessarily have to hang out all of our dirty laundry for the whole world to see, but sometimes we do need to talk and ask for help. God understands it and so do most of our fellow Christians. We only have to do one thing—simply admit it! The rest is up to God.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”