Last week, I was driving the kids to school and we got stuck behind the bus. My LEAST favorite place to be. I guess that points to my massive amounts of patience<hello, sarcasm is my friend>. I can’t stand all the stops. I just want to get to school so no one is late, but that dang bus always seems to mess me up. Even though it’s doing a great service to parents everywhere, my kid included, it slows me down.
Anyway, we were at one of the 87 stops between our house and the school, and as we were sitting there Lila said, “hey mom, every one of those kids crossing the street to get on the bus is on their phone. None of them are looking up.”
We are often so distracted that we don’t look up. We don’t connect.
We have become(and by we, I mean me) apathetic, complacent, and comfortable. We’re distracted by all the things and all the screens and all the busy and all the bus stops….all of the inconveniences of our lives or even by the massive conveniences that we take for granted. We don’t look up. We hide with our secrets kept in the dark, painting a lovely smile on our faces as we go to all the places to do all the things, even churchy things and the places that beg for our honesty and vulnerability. And it’s killing us.
We are unable to share the real stuff of life. Why is that? Is it because we get a false sense of connection here, in this space? I do it all the time. It distracts us. But it’s not the only reason. I think we get scared. Scared of what other’s will think of us. Scared we will lose our credibility or the respect of others. Afraid we will be seen as failures or less than perfect. And so, we look down.
Because of that we just don’t share. We fail to deal. We fail to build deep roots not only in Christ but with the people walking through life right beside us. I’ve seen the power of speaking our truth out loud. Our fears, our struggles, our shortcomings and failures. Even our dreams and deepest desires. We keep to ourselves, but there is much freedom in sharing it. In speaking it. In bringing our truths to light.
This past year, Rob and I have learned the importance of going to the hard places with each other, and with others. We saw our own shortcomings in so many ways and God used those to draw us not only closer to him, but to each other. And we learned the power that comes from sharing our truths, even the most uncomfortable ones, out loud.
Satan loves silence, and he will do everything in his power to keep us confined to it. He loves darkness. In those spaces he can weave subtle lies, just as he did to Even in the garden. He can convince us that it’s better here. It’s not disrupting anyone else. It’s easy here. It’s SAFE here. It’s OK here. And we are totally capable of handling it on our own here. But he renders us ineffective for a hurting world if he can keep us quiet in our own junk. Because we all have stuff. So he keeps us in the dark and he gains an advantage. And we don’t even realize it’s happening.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but the world is HURTING ya’ll. HURTING. Not only are there natural disasters from one side of the globe to the other, there is poverty beyond what our minds can imagine, sex trafficking, eating disorders, affairs, divorce, obesity, disease, crime, injustice, racism, and the list goes on and on and on. You don’t need statistics or any sort of proof to back this up. It’s the world we live in. People to your right and to your left are dealing with issues and pain. Heartache. Or maybe it’s you.
And we’re missing it. I’m missing it. Because I don’t look up. So often, as hard as it is to admit, I’m ok where I am. I don’t know the meaning of suffering, not really anyway. I don’t know what it looks like to be poor or orphaned or naked. I don’t know what it means to be taken advantage of because of the color of my skin. I don’t know what Paul experienced while he was in chains for his faith. I’ve never felt the sting of betrayal for claiming the name of Jesus or of physical abuse. I don’t know oppression. I don’t know verbal abuse. I don’t know racism or the slander of my families name. I don’t know slavery or poverty.
But I know that the struggles I DO have are not in vain, and they aren’t meant to just teach me. I’ve seen the freedom that can come from speaking our truths and allowing God to use them to minister to those around us. But this only works if we are WILLING to listen. Willing to be broken. Willing to serve. Willing to do more for a hurting world.
I have been so burdened by all the happenings in our world lately. I feel as though I’m investing where I am, first in my family and to those around me, or at least I’m doing my best to, as I should be. This is where my first priority lies. With my people who God has given me to shepherd and care for and protect. But He’s also called me to use my stories, whatever they are, for His good and for His glory, to reach a dying and broken world. He is BEGGING us to look up. Right from our little spots on this planet. From my little space here in Texas. He wants to use me, and He wants to use YOU. Heaven is all around us friends. This earth is so temporary. Let’s not waist our time here.
Please, don’t stay in the dark, looking down at your feet. Look up. Speak your truth. Share your fears…and then DO something with it. Don’t just soak up knowledge and wisdom and experiences, good and bad, without allowing it to completely transform your life. What a waist. Because there is a hurting world outside our windows and people need people. We need each other. We need each other just as we are, broken and bruised and available and vulnerable. Willing to “keep it real,” even at the risk of exposure.
I had planned to write a running post today, and this is what came out. I could write about running all day, but it doesn’t bring me to tears or make my heart soar out of my chest. It doesn’t make my blood rush through my veins. But this does.
People loving people. People serving people. People experiencing freedom in Jesus and freedom from the chains that bind them.
Does it mean we all need to get on a roof top with a megaphone and share our deepest darkest secrets? Of course not. I’m just saying it starts with US. Loving and serving and reaching starts with us. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect. That’s impossible. But I’m begging you not to hurt alone. To share with someone, and then to see what God does with the freedom that has come from letting it go. Working through your past or your painful present. Dealing with those things and letting God restore you, as long as it takes, and then using what you have learned from YOUR OWN stories to love on the world around you. There is much freedom in that friends, trust me, I know.
But it starts with bringing our own truth to light. For there we experience beauty in our brokeness, joy instead of mourning, beauty from ashes, and joy deep in our souls.
And it’s beautiful there.