Have you heard of Jennie Allen? Talk about a woman of genuine faith.
I don't know her personally, yet her life and ministry are inspiring.
She encourages her readers to live with transparency. She says to lay it all out there because our lives are not our own. They were bought at a price by God. Our lives are his.
She writes genuinely and she doesn't let her fear of what others will think stop her from cutting open her heart and letting it gush all over the page, and I admire that.
So often we live life in a constrained, restricted, and shallow way.
When we hold back our lives from others, we miss out on fellowship. We miss out on encouragement. We miss out on connecting with others in a real and meaningful way.
The reason we hold back is because of the sick idea that no one else is struggling.
There is a sense in Christian communities that you have to have it all together when you show up on Sunday morning.
But the fact is, we're all going through something right now, and we all think we're alone.
If I hold back from telling you how hard my husband's illness is on our family, then I miss you feeling welcomed enough to tell me that you've been trying for months to get pregnant, and at times it is so painful, it takes your breath away.
I don't want to miss that.
When we open up our lives to one another, we find strength. Sharing our pain, which is the very thing we think shows weakness, actually fills us with strength.
Ironic, isn't it?
Or maybe it isn't irony at all. Maybe it is sin and the devil working against us.
"Hold it all in. Don't let them see you struggle. If they really knew what was going on, they wouldn't care. You are alone."
These are some of the biggest lies the devil tells us because he wants us to suffer alone.
He knows our strength lies in Christ and in community. He knows we are the most dangerous when we are encouraging one another in our faith. He knows we are weakest when we're alone, thinking our struggles are unique and no one else could possibly understand.
But when we actually open up, we find that people do care, and they care deeply.
When we share our struggles, we invite community, we invite prayer, and we invite the spirit of Christ to take our faith where we can't take it alone.