I sat at the table, pen in hand, my mind as blank as the strip of yellow paper in front of me. A minute or more ticked by and a faint panic crept in around the edges of my “A-student, always-has-the-answer” mentality. What could I write?
At this session our speaker had talked about the lies we believe, lies about ourselves that make us feel inadequate or unlovable in some way. In smaller groups we were to write down our own lies on strips of paper and connect them into a chain. Bringing those lies into the light would reveal them for what they really were: the enemy’s attempts to make us forget that God dearly loves each of us, that he perfectly crafted each of us to be fulfilled by his purpose.
Several women around the room acknowledged their deep wounds and insecurities; the unimaginable burdens they carry. I wanted to tell these gracious, accepting ladies about my own wounds…
But I couldn’t think of any.
Right now my life is going pretty well. I wish the same were true of all my friends, but it isn’t. It just seems unfair. I enjoy a strong marriage, close relationships with my kids, good health and financial stability. Meanwhile, some of my friends are in an outright battle for their marriages or children. Others struggle with long-term illness or unemployment, or both. My insignificant problems? Not worth writing down.
When I thought about this at the retreat, it did not make me feel thankful or superior or any other response that I might have expected. Instead, I felt guilty — sure that I was the inadequate one. What’s wrong with me, that I can’t pinpoint any lies that distract me from experiencing Christ’s love? God has led me through some pretty dark times, but why is my life so pleasant now? What do I have to share with these brave women?
Then I remembered a recent conversation with one of my online friends. I was telling her about my current lack of problems and the resulting sense of uselessness. “I feel guilty blogging goofy stories when I know so many people who are struggling,” I told her. Wanting to acknowledge the hurts of life, but not depress anyone, I just didn’t know what to write about.
She showed me that life comes in seasons; that my earlier tough times built my hope and confidence in the Lord. The tough seasons gave me a longer perspective. Though I can laugh and rejoice, I also have the compassion to weep with those who weep. It was up to me to pass both of those blessings along.
So there I sat at the retreat, able to offer only an understanding shoulder, a hug, a word of encouragement and support, some honest tears. But these gestures carried a message dug from the bedrock of my own heart. “I know this is painful, but I also know God will lead you through it,” I could say with the fierce authority of experience.
And it was okay that I didn’t have anything to write on my paper chain. Turns out we weren’t even getting graded.
Thanks for reading,
PS: As you might guess, I’m linked up with Jen at Soli Deo Gloria. Coincidentally, she wrote about the retreat too.