Growing Roots ~ Week 24
This week, someone close to me told me something that rocked my world (and yes, I have her permission to share part of our conversation). She had shared a prayer request for a friend who is going through a period of depression. She said she didn’t know what to say or not say to this particular friend as she experiences these low times. I relayed that she was more than welcome to share my story and that I was more than willing to chat with this friend as someone who truly knows what she’s experiencing. Then my friend dropped the bombshell: she said she never shared her struggles with anyone, sometimes not even her husband!
She went on to explain that she doesn’t want to burden people with her problems but she is always willing to listen and help with others’ problems. My jaw dropped, literally. I told her that you can’t expect people to openly and honestly share their problems with you if you’re not willing to do the same. I told her how sharing your problems is not a burden to them, but can be a blessing to everyone. Truly, I felt (and still feel) sad for my friend because she may have never experienced the blessing that it can be to share your struggles (and subsequent victories) with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead, she bears these burdens alone.
The more I think about this, the more I’m astounded. However, I’m also saddened as I have seen this pattern in my local area. I have the privilege of being a “transplant” to this area, meaning I was not born and raised here but rather moved here later in life. As I thought about the friends that I’m closest to in this “new” area, I realized that they are mostly “transplants” as well. I often feel alone and isolated but this comment from my friend this week showed me why I feel this way. I have learned that true friends share their struggles and their victories with each other. That’s the whole point of my WOW group. That’s why this group keeps growing. People who have grown up in the area that I live now tend to keep their struggles to themselves, making it very difficult for us “outsiders” to feel established and welcomed in this area.
But then I tried to look at this “issue” from a different perspective. I tried look at it from Jesus’ perspective, thinking about how He and His closest followers acted in regards to this. And here’s what I found: Jesus didn’t hide His struggles from people. When He was grieved to the point of death in the Garden of Gethsemane, He shared His heart with His friends and asked them to pray with Him. He didn’t make a general request, but openly laid out His heart for them to see. And when you look at Paul’s letters, you see him being open and honest with his friends (recipients of his letters) about his problems, asking for prayer and seeking to give God the glory and praise even during his struggles. So, if Jesus and Paul were both willing to share their problems with others, shouldn’t we be willing to be vulnerable as well?!?
I also thought about all of the verses in the Bible that talk about encouraging one another, spurring one another on to good deeds, praying for one another, weeping and rejoicing with one another. I thought about the commands to bear one another’s burdens, to admonish one another, and so forth.
How can we do these things to/for “one another” if we’re not sharing our struggles and burdens with each other?
We have to share our struggles and our victories with one another. We must tell Jesus and our friends in our local churches our problems and then allow them to help. If we keep our “issues” to ourselves, we are hindering someone else from blessing us and for us potentially being a blessing to someone else.
I also thought about my son who has really been struggling with being an only child this summer. He gets bored easily, doesn’t have “built in” friends, and feels like he doesn’t fit in with other kids whether it’s at VBS, the library activities, time with cousins, etc. I didn’t truly realize what a burden he was carrying until we were on our way home from a museum this weekend when he shared his heart with me. I have already taken strides to help alleviate this burden. BUT we could not be victorious in this struggle if he hadn’t shared it with me. Instead, his attitude would have continued to sour as the summer progressed, something NO ONE wants.
By sharing our struggles AND our victories, we can encourage others that we are not perfect or immune to difficulties and testify how God has sustained us and brought us through these trials, giving them hope that He will do the same for them. But if we keep our struggles to ourselves, we may very well be hindering the work of God in someone else’s life.
As I grow my roots deeper in Christ, I am inspired by others’ stories who are growing as well. These are the people who open their hearts and lives to intertwine with mine so we can grow together, encouraging one another. I see how God has sustained them and my trust can be renewed. I don’t feel so isolated or alone, but instead I feel comforted, knowing that God still keeps His promises to His children today, those same promises I read in my Bible each day.
So dear friends, be vulnerable. Share your struggles and your victories with friends. You never know what blessing you may be giving…or receiving.