“I feel like everyone know the secrets I wanna hide
And every time they ask me how I’m doing, I just say “I’m fine”
Too embarrassed to share it or maybe too much pride
I create my own prison, holding the keys inside
Punishing myself for all of these crimes
And I’m trying to convince God that I’m not a waste of His time
What’s wrong with me? Am I defective?
I keep on making a mess,
why can’t I ever get it together?
Soon people gon’ find out I’m not what they expected
They see who I really am then I end up rejected
I try to stand tall, but these knees are collapsing
Stead of asking for help these apps’ll distract me…”
If someone asked you:
“Who knows you well?”
What would you say?
You might list a friend, a sibling, or your spouse.
But if someone asked you:
“Who knows everything about you? Your thoughts, mistakes, motivations etc…?”
…then your list would be blank.
We do not want to be fully known.
We tell ourselves:
- “There is no way they would accept me if they knew my past.”
- “They would think something is wrong with me if I told them about this.”
- “They would think my faith is weak if I let them know about my feelings.”
So we put on a smile and say, “I’m doing good.” You might even say, “God is good!”
But you struggle to believe that in your heart.
Or maybe you minimize your own struggle. You say, “Everyone goes through this.” “I trust God.” And instead of dealing with it, you ignore it and pretend it does not bother you.
You might think that you are doing fine and being strong, or that this is the only way you will be loved.
But to be loved and not fully known is superficial.
You avoid judgment, but you also avoid healing.
Shame imprisons you to live in darkness.
But Jesus calls us to
bring our struggles to light.
The Samaritan woman wanted to be quickly rid of the judgment of others when she asked Jesus for living water (4:15). But Jesus wanted her to focus on her sin when he said:
You have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. | John 4:18
Seems kind of cruel, huh?
But Jesus knows our pain and struggles are real, complicated, and specific. They are not theoretical. They deserve more than a quick spiritual cliche. As odd as it may sound, we are called to embrace our struggles. There is a depth to them. What is in our hearts impacts the way we suffer (Proverbs 4:23). Our history, desires, etc. shape our pain. That’s why people can react differently to similar circumstances. And that’s why true grace and power can only be experienced from a place of weakness.
I learned this the hard way.
I experienced a number of difficult events. Each time I would act like I was fine and say, “I trust God.” But with each event, those statements started to become more insincere. I would just ignore the pain and not deal with it. But eventually, it came out. I started to experience strong anxiety. I was scared that something bad would keep happening. I could barely sleep. I would wake up in the middle of the night with shortness of breath and my heart beating rapidly. I couldn’t focus because I would constantly think of what bad thing might happen next.
But I didn’t let anyone know.
I smiled when I saw people, cracked jokes, and if they asked why I looked so tired, I would just say “late night” and move on. I was so ashamed. I wanted my old self back. The self that would easily move on and be “strong in my faith.” I thought I was so messed up. And I didn’t want to tell anyone out of fear that they would think I was weak. Weak as a man and weak as a Christian.
By God’s grace, I came upon an old message on John 4. The preacher pointed out how the woman, who was doing all she could to avoid the judgment of the people, was now running to those very same people to tell them about Jesus (4:28-29). He said:
“When everything is known,
and there is only love,
there is no more shame.”
From that moment I started to get honest about my struggles. I told my friends everything. They listened and helped me process. I came to find that I put a lot of my value and security in the dreams and hopes lost in the difficult events of my life. That point of embracing my struggle allowed me to meet Christ in my weakness and begin to heal.
Who knows everything about you? Your past, thoughts, motivations, and struggles? The ones you go to great lengths to hide?
The Lord knows those who are his. | 2 Timothy 2:19
The one who knows everything about you, and has every right to cast judgment on you, says:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. | 2 Corinthians 12:9
“…Became a Christian, heard about God’s power
Couldn’t see it in my life, but I could tell you all about it
Overloaded with knowledge, making so little progress
Became a public figure, but my struggles were in private
Only started tasting freedom when I’m being honest
And I learn that when I’m weak is when I’m seeing God the strongest
I know some people gon’ be quick to throw stones
But I’ll take all of those hits so you know that you not alone
And after 28 years of life, I decided
Everybody’s crooked, some just do a better job at hiding it.” | Andy Mineo, “Shame”