Dear Christian,

Dear Christian,

There is something I want you to know.  Your imperfect marriage teaches me more than I could ever learn from your efforts to present a perfect one.  Your honesty about your struggles gives me courage to be honest with myself about mine.  Your frustration and disappointment about unanswered prayer gives me tenacious hope to keep believing for mine.  Your faith in a Sovereign God, despite difficult situations, reminds me to stay humble.  Your pain pushes me to make progress fighting mine. Your transparency about fear, anxiety, or a lack of faith strengthens my resolve to dig for the Truth.  Together, we can be relentless to fight for the Freedom that Truth can bring.  Your failures aren’t wasted because I can learn from your mistakes.  Your endurance helps me to stand, but your intentional rest teaches me to seek peace and rest as well.

You see, we can spend so much time trying to make our lives look like what we think they should be, that we miss the beauty of sharing life just as it is.

People think I cry all the time, but what they don’t know is, I have a “church cry.”  It’s usually pretty easy to keep it respectable. It’s never fake, but it’s just a simple surface expression of emotion. I dabb my tears and smile.  If I was really honest, I sometimes smile because I want people to know it’s a “good cry.”  Do you know what I mean? The good church cries are when we feel the presence of God. When I can see Him moving among others, or I am hear a testimony of answered prayer.  When someone is moved, I am moved, and I church cry.  I enjoy those tears very much.

However, when I am hurting, I mean really hurting, confused, disappointed, fearful or angry… I ugly cry.  It takes me a while to get there, I mean I am pretty good at holding it in. I try to keep my pace and save my face — but when I can’t take it anymore, I ugly cry. I collapse into a little pile and I just let it all out.  My mascara runs when I ugly cry, then my eyes sting, and my nose starts to run.  Yes, it quickly turns into a really ugly cry.  But here is what is important: I get the very best advice right after that breaking moment. When I  finally get vulnerable, let my guard down and just exhale, there is peace. Take a deep breath, inhale, exhale, there is peace. Maybe no answers, but yet the burden feels lighter.  The wave of peace may come from God Himself, or could be delivered through good insight and comfort from your husband or a friend. Certainly and consistently there is a release.  Last night, I wondered, “Why do we wait so long to process?”

I think it’s because we haven’t figured out the benefit of our doubts, our struggles, our desire to be better.  There is benefit. We think we need to tidy up, hide them and be strong all the time. But, in reality, I am thankful to be a messy work in progress.  I don’t want to be the same next year as I am today.  Next year I will still have trials, areas to grow and character to refine— but I pray I will be climbing different mountains, not going around the same ones.  Our progress is valuable.  I am certain if we are more open with our walk, share more of our story, the journey won’t feel as lonely. And even better, still God can use our story to benefit someone else.

As many of us are getting ready for church this morning, I challenge us all to leave our church face at home.  Bring all of you to the House of God today.  All of your best, and all of your “unfinished” self. Even if you have to ugly cry, your tears open up such deep and sincere compassion in me.  How can I pray for you when I can’t see your struggle?  Give yourself the freedom to be transparent today. As we are called to bear one another’s burdens, it also implies we must share one another burdens.

Your pain isn’t wasted.  If we share it, we can bear it together, and God gets the glory.  I may have hurt, but I am a wounded healer.  I sin, yet I can lead other sinners to Jesus…. and so can you! In my honesty about my imperfection, I hope to show the perfect love of Christ.

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