I recently threw myself a good old-fashioned pity party. It was ugly. I can’t even really remember how it started or where it came from. What I do know is that I suddenly found myself feeling completely overwhelmed, so I did the most logical thing in my mind: I turned off all my lights, shut myself up in my bedroom, and lost myself in a good book for a few hours. In the midst of it all, I started listening to the lies of the enemy.
When I get overwhelmed or majorly upset over something, I shut down. That’s my coping mechanism. I shut down and withdraw. I disappear into myself. I push people out of my life. And while I’m at my lowest and my loneliest, I’m not alone. There are almost always toxic thoughts to keep me company.
On this particular day every normal thought I had would immediately be followed with a toxic thought. Everything from “You’re not good enough” to “You’ll never have it all together” to “Your life is never going to be like that” to “What do you have to offer?” And in those moments of weakness, I absolutely knew that I needed my prayer warrior friends praying for me. Did I reach out to them? No. The enemy was smart enough to battle right back with “They don’t have time for you” and “They’re busy” and “They’re not going to understand – they don’t deal with what you deal with.”
All (and I do mean ALL) of my closest friends are married. Most have children. As a single, I often fall into the trap of thinking that my married friends can’t possibly identify with my struggles. I wonder how I can even be justified in sharing my crippling insecurities and darkest moments with them when they don’t walk the walk I’m walking. Instead of reaching out in my weakest moments, I shut myself away. Instead of picking up the phone to call or text and ask for prayer and talk things through, I hold it all in. And when I hold it all in, the negative self-talk gets worse. Louder. Impossible to ignore.
This past week I let myself listen to the enemy. I didn’t reach out. The funny thing? Two of my best, closest friends reached out to me through text messages within 30 minutes of each other. One conversation started with a discussion of gelato, and the other began with a sweet snapshot of one of my “nieces” wearing a dress I bought her. (Hey, we know our priorities, folks – babies and food!) From there, things unraveled beautifully. Both of my friends shared some struggles they were going through relating to motherhood. They shared their insecurities with me, no holds barred. In turn, I was able to say, “Hey, this is what I’m dealing with. I need prayer.”
I’m so thankful those divinely orchestrated conversations happened. I spent well over an hour that night texting my friends. We swapped stories and offered encouragement to each other. The whole time, the Lord ministered to my heart. Through these conversations, He showed me that none of my friends live the storybook “perfect” life that I sometimes envision. I often find myself comparing my circumstances to theirs – measuring myself against their lives.
You see, most of my toxic thoughts deal with comparison. It’s something I’ve only recently realized, and it’s something I’m praying fervently that the Lord will help me overcome.
These simple conversations reminded me of something very important: we really are all the same in the most basic of ways. As one of my friends so wisely put it, “Everyone is facing something… all seasons are different and so are the struggles, but they are just as hard.”
Are we all experiencing the same things? No. Does it mean we won’t understand each other? No. Just like me, my friends are struggling. They’re hurting. They’re dealing with insecurities. None of us live perfect lives. None of us have it all together. If we did, we wouldn’t need Jesus.
This is the beauty of community, the beauty of transparency. When we show those around us that we have insecurities and weaknesses and that we struggle with sin and that we’ve made mistakes, we’re showing them God’s grace in action. Life is messy. We’re messy. But living our lives in a way that allows others to see God working through the mess is absolutely imperative.
Do you struggle with transparency? How has God used your community to minister to you lately?
Photo credit: Allie Verbovetskaya