“One after another, a half dozen people in the room named some of the worst things that had happened to them and offered them freely as a gift to the rest of us. In some cases, I had already known the cross a friend was carrying, but there were several weights I learned about for the first time that night. . . My friends moved on from offering conventional strengths and put forward their suffering as their contribution.” Leah Libresco, 56
It’s something we don’t consider often enough. But it makes a big difference as we go through a difficult time and someone else walks with us. It also makes a big difference for someone else who thinks they are struggling alone as we offer to walk with them.
Perhaps it’s happening to you. You face a challenge, but you don’t want anyone to know. You want to keep your secret. Those around you seem so whole and perfect. You don’t want to appear to be the only broken one.
Then perhaps you finally give up your secret. Or even better, when you’re still trying to keep up the appearance of perfection, someone else spits out their secret. You gasp in surprise and relief.
In sharing your secret or receiving someone else’s, you find a companion who walking that same path.
If we never share our secrets, we can never receive the help we need. And we can never give our help to others.
It seems hard. But it’s not a new idea. It comes from the pen of Paul in a letter of encouragement.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ’s sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.” II Corinthians 1: 3-5
In our darkest times, we can find encouragement and compassion.
In the darkest time of a friend, we can be the encouragement and compassion God has already given us.
Show your true self. Give up your secret. Receive and give grace and help. Let encouragement overflow.
Nancy E. Head’s Restoring the Shattered came out in paperback on January 22, 2019! Get your copy here!