Those who want the best

In a conversation while watching TV, my husband and I reflected over the death of the TV sitcom. Streaming has killed mainstream TV, and the idea of sitting down with kids to just watch a family TV show seems dead. Gone are the days of shows like Who’s the Boss, Family Matters, and Growing Pains.

Growing Pains…not just physical, but those emotional ills we go through when anything in life or relationships change. That’s what the show was all about.

It’s what life is all about. And throughout mine, I’ve had my fair share. Even well into my late 30’s and even as recently as a couple years ago. As just like the sitcom, Carol, Mike, and the others had the Seaver parents; and I had people who helped me, guided me, and truly wanted the best for me as I was growing through them. 

One is a colleague I look up to. I admire her and her professionalism. In a conversation this week, we were discussing some of the challenges for the new school year with staff changes; one of them being the previous week’s meeting that I had been asked to lead. The one that had not gone as planned. I told her how a few years ago I probably would have left that room crying, and cried about it for days; but these days I no longer take things that are not about me personally. Her response was unexpected. One I was not needing to hear for validation (though in the same years I would have needed that, too), but confirming in a way. 

“January, you are exactly right. You have grown so much. It’s been so awesome to watch you develop into such a great therapist, and a really strong leader.”

I was humbled. Coming from someone who five years ago, scared me to death…yes I was humbled.

And I said as much-that she used to scare me-because five years prior I had sat in her office as a resident in counseling with 2 years of overdue paperwork needing signatures. Having not attended any groups in the last three months, because I was meeting the requirements of everyone else around me, and not the path of the career I said I was passionate about. Her promise to never sign another overdue quarterly report after that date stuck with me, and I vowed to myself I would never turn in another one late. And I didn’t. I also never missed another group supervision. I made sure my placements knew those were monthly commitments I had to meet as part of my residency. She was right-I could have sat there and made excuses. I could have given up. But I didn’t. I owned it. Fixed it. And didn’t do it again.

Now…I’d like to say I never made another mistake I had to be held accountable for, but then I would also have to tell you I am superhuman, and I am not. I have had to own my junk. Fix it. And suffer some growing pains. And each time someone has been there who has truly wanted the best for me. Someone has had to show me the crack, the area needing growth, and push me to fix it.

And we hear that a lot: “I am telling you this because I want the best for you,” or “I wish you the best.” But does everyone? And how do you know the difference? Because there is a difference.

Here’s an illustration to help you: 

 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these? “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep. John 21:15-17

Jesus gave Peter instructions and asked Him to serve Him, as He had been instructed to do previously. If you love me, you will go on serving as you have before; but you will change your behavior. 

Leaders, friends, loved ones who want the best for you-don’t hold your past missteps against you. Jesus didn’t do that to Peter. That colleague had not even remembered those reports-I had. She had just silently been watching me grow. 

Those who want the best may have to call out a fault. A blemish. May have to ask you to correct a mistake, or an area of growth, but they do so in gentleness, in love, and with the understanding that you have the opportunity to make it right, and even get better. It’s not to hold these wrongs over your head for later. They don’t yell at you, or shame you. Or keep them in their back pockets as ammunition to keep you from moving forward later.

Those who want the best SEE the best. Potential. And not just the products of your mistakes. They can’t wait for you to bloom into what you will become. They even want to help you do it.

Now, those who really don’t want what is best for you…but maybe for them? 

At first, they tell you the mistake is no big deal. You are forgiven. You have some time to make this right, and may even encourage you with a plan. But then it shifts.

They keep a record of your wrongs. Like receipts. Adding them up to list them each time you mess up. They remember that meeting 5 years ago, and won’t let you forget it. They even remember why you were there. 

They see a crack. And instead of gently talking to you about it; they expose it. With maneuvering of others in front of you and your gifts, desires, talents. They may even poke at it to expose the weakness more. 

Those who want what is best for them? They want competition. If you do happen to fix the crack? To move forward? Bloom? Grow? Despite the adversity? Don’t expect an ally. Expect the silent treatment. And an all out lack of support. These people may even just ghost you. 

These are the people who would have never went to Peter and asked him to feed their sheep, but would instead be talking to the sheep about Peter. Or would have already replaced Peter with a new first mate. 

You get it now? 

Those who want the best for you, sometimes don’t get to have the best conversations; because they are the ones willing to have the tough ones.

The ones that may cause pain, but instill growth.

The ones that may hurt a bit, but are necessary for change.

The ones that reveal cracks, but are crucial for repair.

These are the best. 

Don’t be afraid of those who challenge you. Because they are the ones who just may be conduits of your strongest growth. Those are the ones who want the best. 

Promises of God: A Family

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:4-5

When we go to work, we likely build connections with others during our day to day interactions. This is the place where we spend a lot of our time. At least 8 hours of our day, more than likely 5 days a week. We may spend more time with our co-workers than the family we have at home. We may even crave this connection and time away from the demands of parenting. We share big moments, trials, triumphs. These people become like our family.

But what happens if you don’t have that? If you, on a daily basis, don’t have this family-like connection with others in your workplace?

Prior to COVID, my day to day role as a mental health professional placed me in a local school setting throughout the year. This was my “placement” and my assignment for the entire school year, or longer if I desired. I spent each day in the buildings I was placed with the staff and students. I become part of their daily lives. I was connected. Part of each individual school family, even if my name badge indicated I worked for an outside agency. I had a work family.

It has been 2 years since COVID shut down schools for the better part of over a year. These days I shuffle back and forth between 5 different spaces during the week. Some on the same day. Most days I appear as a random face who is popping into a building for a couple hours a day, once a week. I don’t know most of the people. Don’t even know their names. Certain they don’t know mine either. My work family now consists of people across phone lines in another region most days, and I feel disconnected from the many places in which I spend my day. Like I don’t belong. Like I am still searching for my family.

The second scenario is how many of us go through life. Feeling distant from others. Shuffling from place to place, trying to find a spot where we belong. A place that makes us feel like we are connected. Loved. Wanted. A family.

But to all who believed in him and accepted him, he gave the right to be called, children of God. John 1:12

When we seek God, repent, and accept His grace, we become part of His family. We are no longer disconnected because we are now connected with our Father. And with that connection comes all the perks of being part of a family. We have someone to comfort us in times of sorrow, to share in our joy. And we become united with other brothers and sisters within His church. Working together to fulfill one mission. We no longer have to feel as if we don’t belong, or are just wandering from place to place. We have finally found a home. A family. With Him.

If you are still wandering from place to place today, desperately looking for a connection. A family, some place to call home-why not call on God? He promises to adopt you as His own, and He doesn’t care what company is listed on your name badge. He desires that you be part of His family. He has a place waiting just for you.

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His Love Letter

This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear. 1 John 3:16, MSG

We are ending our monthly exploration of the ways in which God expresses true love, and the ways in which He desires we go out and love on others. That we have learned it is far more than receiving gifts, flowers, sweet nothings whispered to us, and seeking this love from a person. That it is a sacrifice we offer, even when we often don’t feel like it; to those we don’t often like.

Speaking of those we don’t like, I recently had a conversation with my husband. It was after I had kept something that was hurting me to myself for a while. I was disappointed by a relationship. By someone I thought was close. Wouldn’t leave. Was there for me one day, and gone without any explanation the next. It hurt me. It left me wondering what I did wrong. Left me doubting myself. My worth. And I remember in this conversation fighting back tears, though it didn’t take long for them to flow, asking him, “What is it about me? Why are others just so mean to me? I know I do things that are annoying, and I know I have made grave mistakes, but why do I get treated like such dirt?”

This is the human experience of love at times. Or the worldly love we have come to know. The kind we just toss away when it disappoints or we find a shinier, better version. We cut off, or we speak hurtful words. Love should not hurt. Yes, we sacrifice; and sometimes we do things we don’t really want to do for the ones we love; but we don’t hurt those we love. We sacrifice our feelings for them. We put aside our agendas for them. We are willing to leave them better than we found them, even if we have to leave them. If we don’t do these things-we don’t have love. And yes, love disappears. It can even disappear from the person who freely gave it you, leaving them wondering if they are worthy.

I heard this song recently, and I am sharing it as I believe it concludes this month’s exploration; and moves into the next month appropriately. While in love, we may desire letters. Well-crafted words that express feelings of affection; which most of the time we don’t likely receive.

But, we have one. We have a love letter. It’s from God, and I imagine the love letter I would receive back from Him would sound much like it does in this song, especially on those days when I cry out like the artist does to Him-trying to make others proud, seeking approval, coming up empty, feeling worthless, and wanting to just give up. Proving that I need Him more and more.

My desire for you today is that you do love like He loves you. Not in the ways others have disappointed you. That you leave others better than you found them, not the way they left you. All these things are written in your love letter. He will show you how. Just read it when you feel like giving up.

I do not own the rights to this music or video.

Staying truly connected

One of the things we all crave is connection. We are all looking for someone with whom we can feel we can share our lives. Our secrets. Our dreams. Our hearts. We want connection. 

Connection also requires vulnerability. Vulnerability requires us to bear all. Bearing all causes hurt. When we become hurt, we retreat, and the one thing we want to do most of all is disconnect. 

In an effort to avoid the same pain. The same judgment. The same wounds. The same abandonment. The same rejections. The same patterns.

I realize in my effort to avoid hurt, I became a staunch advocate for disconnection. Some of it was for good. I learned some good things from my time of burying my head in the sand so to speak.

But I also learned that disconnecting is not always the answer.

It keeps us from hearing about the ways in which we can be a healer in a hurting world.

For instance, as I sat listening to the story of my fellow sister in Christ tell of a dying daughter, stuck in her native land of Liberia; I researched other missions in Liberia. I found so many things that I knew nothing of; simply because my hurt had caused me to disconnect. In my selfishness. In my focus on myself, I had shut out the voices of the needy around me.

I learned that some of the very people that had encouraged me in the past, I had shut out simply because I had shut off some of the noise of some who hurt me.

Case in point, when I heard the voice mail. I heard a voice of a woman who adored me. She missed me. Even if it was through a post. An encouraging message. When I saw another in the church cafe, I realized I hadn’t seen her in months, but she remembered me, because I had an encouraging word to speak. She was a partner in my ministry, and I had shut her out, simply because I wanted and needed to silence one or two negative voices. Because I focused on a few who had hurt or caused harm.

But I did learn some valuable lessons. Disconnection revealed that sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader. That you have to dig down deep to find the core of who you desire yourself to be. Because when you disconnect. You find there are not that many people cheering you on any longer.

That the one ones who do are often not the ones who live in the same area code as you. Even share the same family tree. When social media connections are cut, so are the connections and conversations. And no one comes looking for you. No one is cheering on your accomplishments. Or wishing you well on your next big test except those who have still been burning up the phone lines. You learn that some are actually willing to still come looking for you. Drop off goodies at your job. Swing by just to say hello. Check on you when you have been silent for a while.

Some even in different zip codes. That’s true connection.

You often learn that mere strangers can encourage you far more than those you thought actually “knew” you.

You learn about “connection” when you disconnect.

You learn that some were around just to keep up. Small towns are like this. We connect to see if you were really who “you used to be.” We all do it, and really, unless it’s for the reasons I’ll mention below, and we are not seeking a connection in order to have gossip worthy tea for girls night out to talk about the “boujee” pastor (wink, wink) or to make ourselves feel good for whatever reason…then just disconnect.

Disconnection isn’t always good. But reconnecting in the same ole way isn’t what’s best either. Why? Because our way of connection is a facade. Connection is simply that. Connecting. Not putting on a false face or persona that we hope to portray for the outside world in the hopes that someone will resonate with it. We connect by reaching out to others in our broken down places. And I mean reaching. Not for our smart phones through a media app. I disconnected from over 500 Facebook friends for almost a year, and I felt more connected than ever. What’s that say?

Connection is acts of mercy. Connection is seeking justice. Connection is loving the lost. Connection is showing love to the unloveable.

Connection is encouragement. Building someone up. Showing support for someones accomplishment.

Connection is choosing to accept someone who may be different than you, and being willing to at least LISTEN to their perspective.

Connection is coming to the realization that we all grow, and instead of standing in crowds and gossiping about it, we can stand in awe and applaud someone’s growth together.

Connection is raw, emotional, honest, true, intentional, genuine, and too often rare. In these days of darkness and despair, it is what we all desire and crave, and even with these apps at our fingertips it’s really what we have the least of.

You want to be connected to me? Be a little less like that connected troll calling out that all the wayward ways of everyone’s past from high school in small towns, and be a little more like the connected qualities listed above. Otherwise, don’t be offended if your request is declined. I promise I’m not being “boujee,” just selective.

Encouragement is your business

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29

When you think of unwholesome talk, what do you think of? Some think of cursing. You know-swear words. Let’s be real-I am fond at times of swear words. Maybe not fond, but they feel really good when things are going really bad.

They just don’t sound so good to the person who hears them.

You know what else is unwholesome? Gossip. Oh yes…see Paul wasn’t just talking about cursing in this statement, he was talking about anything that dishonors him, and also others.

We are all guilty. “Did you hear? Let me tell you about…Mmmhmm, they sure did do that.” Gossip. It’s messy. And in my experience in the midst of these conversations, nothing encouraging is happening. There isn’t much building being done, but a lot of tearing.

Being involved it doesn’t feel as bad. Witnessing and hearing it…it feels and hears as bad as that curse word. It stings. I often leave the table, or pass by an overheard conversation and leave wondering: “What will be said about me when I walk away?”

Here is a question: Is what they are doing or have done any of your business? Probably not.

You know what is your business? Your prayer. Your encouragement. Your words-those that build up. Maybe choosing not to participate in the conversation that’s all up in someone’s business.

Your business? It’s not what they are doing. It is to be about your Father’s business-the encouraging business.

I do not own rights to music or song lyrics

A friend to the lonely

“I don’t want to go to school! I.Dont.Want.To!”

This wasn’t a cry I hadn’t heard before from this child. In fact, it’s often uttered daily. He doesn’t want to get dressed. He mumbles and grumbles many days all the way through the morning routine.

But this cry was different.

It was a gut-wrenching cry that woke this little one from sleep.

“I can’t make it! I can’t do it all day. I can’t!”

And why couldn’t he? Because his friend on the bus was mean; and Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s were the only days he didn’t play alone at recess.

Daily I am the one folks come to for answers to these type of school woes. But today? I had nothing.

Nothing to calm his anxious spirit. Nothing to convince him to go to school. No solution for the loneliness he felt on that playground.

Sure. I could provide the reassurance that God was most certainly with him at recess, but he knew this already. And while it is nice to know that God sits with us, it is also no secret that a 10 year old, 5th grade boy also desires that someone else will sit with him in his lonely places. To invite him to play. To help him not feel left out or different. Especially when he can’t play basketball or football.

All my little guy wanted was someone to play tag with him. To understand that his clumsy, little legs…they just couldn’t do sports.

And it’s what I wanted for him, too.

Today? If your heart is breaking for your lonely child? It’s what I want for you and yours, also.

Today, I pray that God is not only with your lonely and hurting child, but that He sends someone.

He sends someone who sees their own brother or sister sitting alone, and invites them to be their “friend” for the day (Proverbs 18:24). That someone will go outside their circle, show hospitality, and make yours feel like an “insider” (Hebrews 13).

Ask a lonely soul to play.

Tell them, “It’s ok. I’ll teach you.”

Or drop the football, and simply stop to play tag.

I pray your little one is sent a friend to the lonely.

A BFF like no other

The subject of friendships has been the topic of much discussion in the many roles I have in this crazy thing called life. Friendships, especially those you have when growing up, can be hard to navigate. Tough to figure out who is true, and who is not really that good for you. Who is going to be there through it all, or who is going to drop you when life becomes too much to handle.

We also define our relationships with our friends based on our similarities, not realizing that our likes are often fleeting, and thus can’t sustain a relationship for very long. When a difference or conflict occurs because we don’t agree, if our friendships are based on being the same, it is hard to move past these differences.

Since I have grown out of the girl drama, and now firmly believe that everything I truly need to know is right in God’s Word. The same is true for friendship.

The friendship formed between Ruth and Naomi was one example, but the friendship of David and Jonathan is another great example of the amazing, unexplainable, unbreakable bonds of friendship that can endure through immense hardship and trials. Showing how a friend can also be a powerful mentor or role model.

First, David and Jonathan were unlikely friends. 

“So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as King.” 1 Samuel 15:23

The “you” mentioned here is Saul, the king. However, the decision he made to go rogue in battle and disobey God meant his family lost the honor of inheriting the title. His son, Jonathan, as a result lost the chance to become a king.

Then…enter David. Twelve years old. To become the newly anointed. The next in line to become king. Jonathan, once in line. Now losing his place to a kid!

Even still, there is a bond between the two, and a love for “self.”

By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David-an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number one advocate and friend. 1 Samuel 18:1-3

Consider that Jonathan is much older than David. David was a young boy at this point, chosen to soothe Saul’s anger with music. He has defeated the giant, and claimed victory for the Israelites. He has also now become a threat to the king.

This little kid.

At some point he was going to need an advocate. A friend. God knew this.

So he sent Jonathan. Who could have been jealous, too. I mean he was standing in front of the kid who was going to be seated one day where he should be. But he set his own desires aside to love David. As much as he loved himself. Making a vow to love him and take care of him.

Jonathan was a mentor and encourager.

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 1 Samuel 23:16.

David is hiding. His enemy Saul wants him dead, and Jonathan goes looking for him? Of course he did. To encourage him. To remind him that he was chosen by God. To steer him in the right direction. To help him not falter in his walk, and to never give up. That’s what a loyal friend and role model does. Encourages. Lifts us up. Steers us to the right path. Reminds us who to look to for strength when we feel like giving up, and they drop everything to come find us when we need encouraging, too.

There is honesty and truth between the two, even when it is hard and hurtful. 

Saul called his son Jonathan together with his servants and ordered them to kill David. But because Jonathan treasured David he went and warned him. 1 Samuel 19:1-2

Jonathan knew that what Saul was plotting was wrong. Because he had committed to advocate for David, he was also committed to stand up against Saul’s jealous rage even if it meant he lost the favor of his father. Jonathan proved that honesty, truth, and loyalty are not only hard, but can be deeper than ties to family. They also require loyalty to ones values and often tremendous sacrifice.

Promises are kept, even to the end.

“God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever.” 1 Samuel 20:42

Even after Jonathan’s death, David remains loyal and committed to the friend he loved as a brother, taking in Jonathan’s child, and returning Saul’s land to him in his late father’s honor.

And Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, just like one of the royal family. 2 Samuel 9:12

So, what is so special about David and Jonathan? I think it goes back to what we all desire in the bonds of friendship. They were true. To each other and the promises they made. It was not a relationship born of jealousy, deceit, or betrayal; but one where the desires and needs of the other were placed above one’s own. And neither dropped the other when hardships and life became too much to handle.

At some point we will need an advocate. A friend. And God knows this. And when the time comes, I pray he sends you a friendship and a bond like David and Jonathan’s. Someone who will love you as they love themselves.

Would you go where they go?

“How do they do it? How do they find each other? It’s like they can sniff out each other’s chaos?”

These are sometimes the conversations I have about the relationships amongst growing kids. How they decide to form attachments to those who are either good or bad for them. How we, as adults, do the same.

“Well, the same way adults do, right? We are all looking for someone who knows and will still accept our brand of crazy.”

That person who will see past our faults. That person we can trust. Who won’t gossip about us once we leave the room. Who will share in our struggles, and not share them with others. Be there when we are down. Pick us up when we need it.

Who when times are tough. We can’t see anyway out of the darkness. Have been acting a little crazy, distant, needy, whatever…won’t get sick of us, and leave.

Don’t we all want that?

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life bitter for me; the Lord has caused me to suffer, and sent tragedy upon me.” Ruth 1:20, 21 (NLT, paraphrase).

Naomi, a name given that meant “pleasant,” had suffered a life that during this time had been anything but. She had left Bethlehem. Moved to Moab with her husband. Had two sons, and then lost all three. Naomi had in turn become bitter (which is the meaning of the name “Mara”). Angry at God for seemingly allowing her grief. She fully expected to spend the rest of her life alone and abandoned in the same way she felt God had left her.

She did not expect anyone to remain loyal during her suffering. To endure her grief and pain alongside her.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us (Ruth 1:16-17).

To vow to stay with her until the end.

Ruth was no longer obligated to do so. No longer married to Naomi’s son. Technically no longer part of Naomi’s family.

But to Ruth, she was making a commitment that had nothing to do with blood or technicalities. Ruth saw Naomi. In pain. Grieving. And made a commitment to endure life with her. Through the ups and downs.

Through the suffering.

She made a sacrifice to love Naomi as her own family.

She didn’t weigh what was in it for her first. She didn’t do it in order to get anything out of it. Both women returned to Bethlehem with nothing. She simply saw another suffering soul; a woman in need of a friend. Someone needing to be accepted with all her “crazy.” She decided to love her and stand by her until the end.

Isn’t that what we all want?

The person we tell to leave, but just won’t. They stay and ride out our junk with us. Even if they have their own junk. Even if they don’t have to. Even if they have somewhere to be. Any time you call. Every time you fall.

We all want someone who will stay when we get a little sideways, and yes, a little “crazy.”

Do you have that person? Are you that person for someone?

Maybe today you can be just a little softer in the midst of someone’s struggle. Stay a while in someone’s “crazy” moment. Sit in someone’s chaos, instead of growing bitter. Help someone navigate their return home, so they don’t have to alone.

Even if you have somewhere to be. Even if you have your own junk. Even if you don’t have to.

Just go wherever they go for a while.

 

He Wants to Be Your “Friend”

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and He will give you all you need.” Matthew 6:33

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A few months ago, I wrote about the phone addiction I witnessed while in line at Starbucks. At that time I disconnected from the constant need to keep scrolling through endless updates, and navigate my day with my nose buried in my mobile device.

And, I was doing pretty good. I had finally resisted the urge to spew every one of my wayward thoughts on-line for all my “friends” to see. I was pretty sure that my hiatus from constant status updates, email checks, and tweets had its impact. I now had the strength and willpower to let all the negativity that clogged my newsfeed go. I had learned to run to God with my problems instead of Facebook.

I think it’s OK to download again, I said.

I can limit myself, I said.

I can make sure the negative things I see don’t affect me. I am sure they won’t alter the way I see and love people, I said.

I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

The realization that I was once again turning to all my “friends” again wasn’t in any way earth shattering. It all began with what almost became a simple “I’m feeling sorry for myself, and I’m all alone” status.

Until that voice said to me: “January, what are you doing? Do you really want to go there again? I’m here. Talk to me.”

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:12

If I call on my greatest friend, he will listen. But, I had stopped calling on Him lately. Instead, I was relying on every “like,” and comment of agreement to confirm that I wasn’t alone. That someone else was listening. However, with every comment, I realized…I was still alone. There are still some things all my “friends” just couldn’t possibly understand.

The truth is, I wish I could say I only had that one moment of Facebook weakness, but that’s not the case.

See, I had quickly gone back to the mindless scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh throughout my day just as quickly as I had deleted the whole mess in the first place. Until I had spent more time on the couch scrolling and refreshing than playing and engaging with my kids.

Until I began the frequent eye-rolling at posts that quickly turned to judgment and condemnation. The judgment and condemnation which is so unlike the example I am supposed to be of Christ.

Until my days were filled with gruesome, negative, and cruel news stories again, and nothing at all to lift my spirits.

Until I once again began my morning reading Facebook posts, and not my Bible.

Until I started telling all my “friends” about my problems, and not once talking to God.

I had done it again.

I certainly wasn’t practicing what I had preached months ago.

And, I had once again sunk into a wave of negativity, judgment, and whoa-is-meing that was not at all becoming.

Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving. Proverbs 4:15

This is not to say that Facebook is an evil thing that must be avoided at all costs. There are some inspiring posts and stories out there. Friends I follow just for this reason. I have family, former co-workers, and high school classmates that I enjoy catching up with, and then other “friends” whose witty posts give me a much needed laugh. And, who can enjoy a football game without a little friendly rivalry?

But, honestly…for me? The constant scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh is a trigger for me. A trigger for my insecurities. A trigger for my past to come back to haunt me. A trigger for my often critical view of the world and people, and one more reason for me to say that I don’t have time for God.

One more reason for me to think I am all alone. That all my “friends” don’t care, don’t understand, don’t get what I go through day in and day out, don’t….whatever. When really the friends that do care, are saved in my phone contact list. The ones whose emails, kids’ names, addresses, and hidden insecurities I actually do know. The ones who I can actually call, say “I miss you. I need you right now. I feel alone and I’m having a crummy day,” and know they will come running to first sulk with me, and then tell me to suck it up, because we all have those days.

And, then there is that other “friend.” The one who has no Facebook or Twitter account, yet knows exactly when I’m alone and need support-whether its 11 at night or at 4 in the morning. The friend I have in Him. The comfort and peace I can find in Him to which no scrolling and refreshing, or hundreds and hundreds of social media “friends” could ever compare.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

Let’s Be Honest…I Walk Through the Desert, Too

Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. Ephesians 4:25

We Have to Walk in the Desert, Too

Transparency. It is something I have come to appreciate. The art of showing emotion, letting others in on what is going on in life. Not hiding behind a smile. Not painting on a happy face. Not denying struggles. Being completely, and totally honest with another.

It’s something I have grown to appreciate. but not something that was ever accepted as practice growing up.

I lived in a home full of “stuffers.” We grew up believing that old saying…you know, about not airing dirty laundry, or what not. You had a problem, you stuffed it. You were having a bad day, you stuffed your emotions and put on a smile. Look like you have it all together at all costs. Don’t let anyone know the real you. The real issues you face.

Well, let’s be honest. I am over that.

And, let’s be even more honest…I admit it. I walk through the desert, too. Just.like.you.

I’m a mess and so are you. We’ve built walls nobody can get through.

Yes, I’m a mess. Just.like.you.

I have bad days, too. “I don’t want to get out of this bed and do a thing” days. “I spilled coffee on my white shirt, was late for work, and left my gas card at home” days. My bad days are probably just like yours, and my responses to them are, too. I vent, I rant, I yell, and (gasp) sometimes I let a curse word fly. But, I also pray. I get up and move on. I rejoice in the hope that tomorrow will be better.

Let’s be honest. I walk through the desert, too. Just.like.you.

I hurt, too. I have pain. I have struggles. There are days I wonder if anyone cares. There are days I feel alone. Broken. Confused. Useless. Just.like.you.

I am a parent. And, my kids…oh, my kids. On any given Sunday morning one may be laying, kicking, and screaming on the sanctuary floor, while the other stands sassing at the door. I struggle as a parent. I wonder if I even get any of it right. Just.like.you.

And, since I have my own kids…well, sometimes I can get easily frustrated with other kids. But, let’s be honest. Anyone who stands in the front of a classroom of 20 kids who have spent 15 minutes punching, yelling, running, and back-talking, and not one ounce of completing the tasks given to them would be a tad bit frustrated, too. And, yes…on those days I want to desperately run to the nearest exit and run away to the closest desert island. Because, on those days, I need a break. Just.like.you.

Let’s be honest. I walk through the desert, too.

I am human. I am a woman. An insecure woman. Sometimes a stubborn woman. I am a parent. I am a wife, and sometimes not a very good one. I get angry, sad, and scared. And, I am just.like.you.

So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine. ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides. And mercy’s waiting on the other side. If we’re honest. 

So, let’s be honest with each other. Let’s throw away the masks and be a little transparent. Let’s walk through the desert together.

When I want to come unraveled because autism came out to play on the way to church (and in the middle of the foyer), hug me and tell me I am doing a good job. When your kid is having struggles and acting out, know that I will do the same for you.

When your lonely, insecure, scared, and don’t know what to pray. Be honest. Someone else has been there, too.

When your day has been bad, and it keeps getting worse, paint on a smile if you wish, laugh about it a little, but be honest. Because there is someone else out there having a bad day, too.

We are in this thing called life together. We all have bad days. Bad months. Bad years. And, we all need a little encouragement along the way.

So, let’s just be honest. We all walk through the desert, too.