In a world where we are constantly faced with the specter of need, want, abuse, and neglect it is sometimes very difficult to confess my little guilty secret.
Carefully cradled in my soul like a shiny piece of treasure, I keep it buried deeply so that only a few can see. A certain truth that keeps me silent in large groups and with friends over coffee. To be honest, it is one of the hardest things to write about, even here.
Years ago, I found the repercussions of sharing this led to awkward silences and averted gazes. Conversations ceased and postures changed. I was suddenly on the outside of the sisterhood, a creepy peeper. My words suspicious. Possibly untrue.
So, I stay silent.
My terrible secret?
I am deliriously in love with my husband and I adore my teenage sons. This is the “my kingdom for a kiss” kind of adoration. They are charming, irresistible, and engaging and are, quite literally, my favorite people. We get along really well. All of us. Almost all the time.
That’s not only kind of weird, it is suspicious.
The peaceful heart of our home is often in stark contrast to the ever present busy-ness of our self-employed, homeschooling, house-churching world. We thrive in a place of prayer, hand holding, random drive by kisses, long conversations, and loud music. Laughter echoes from our walls every day. Seriously. Every. Day.
I could fill a Facebook page with the hysterical things we say to each other. I often do. I’m not that creative. I couldn’t make this stuff up!
We are abundantly blessed. A sweet and kind love that massages tired feet, carries heavy bags, and holds flashlights in darkness when the power goes out. We enjoy the kind of care that brings a cup of tea or hot cocoa to someone absorbed in his or her work without being asked.
I live… No, I wallow until I am prune-y in a love I never dreamed could possibly be mine and I am so overwhelmed by gratitude, I cannot help but give it back.
Sadly, when I find myself around by people struggling to hold onto the barest hope of sweetness I become reluctant, embarrassed, to share honestly about where I live.
I mumble half-truths about frustration as though the scattered moments are the rule of my life and not the exceptions. I talk of “fights” with the husband, so I don’t look out of place. Really? Our “fights” are often one or two sentences of an opposing viewpoint followed by shoulder shrugs and the realization this was NOT a mountain to die on.
All around me there is the constant pressure to “be real”. Sarcastic quotes taunt us, “If only life was really like what we put on Facebook”. Too often, the response to this pressure is interpreted as “share all your ugly all the time”.
I am tempted to hide our good with the fear that someone might think we are judging their struggle or boasting about our blessing.
Being happy isn’t relate-able.
Those who share too much good are pegged as “plastic” or “fakes”.
But, all ugly? All the time?
There is a time and a place for sharing pain. In Galatians 6:2, Paul challenges us to “Bear one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.
What law was that? Loosely paraphrased, it is to “love the Lord, your God, completely, with all you have and to love your neighbor with the same intensity you love and care for yourself”. (Matthew 22:37-39)
Is this nugget intended for the burdened or the unburdened?
Obviously? Good advice for both.
Those who walk lightly should share their strength (of the moment) with those who walk weighed down. Those white-knuckled onto their mountain of anguish should be willing to let go of it and trust God to provide strength for what needs carrying. And to see all that doesn’t.
So, let’s be real…
My life has not always been the Kingdom of Awesome Sauce I revel in today. It is not always rainbows and sunshine.
But the more we focus on those things God has blessed us with and give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:18) the more our lives reflect Christ. And then there is joy, peace, and love.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Freedom to share the amazing goodness of the life God has given me. Freedom to walk burdened, willing to hand over one side of the bag to a stronger brother. We have the freedom to delight in moments of beauty. Those moments brashly defying the fallen world in which we live.
The word of our testimony is both what we have escaped and what we have been given and we have to tell both. But to remember God’s goodness? When we struggle or when others around us struggle? Maybe, then more than ever.