Last week I was at a meeting where we started by “checking in.” When it was my turn, I forced myself to be real and share a few things that I’ve been struggling with. When it became the next person’s turn, she acknowledged that she shared some of my struggles, but then proceeded to declare that she was happy despite these struggles, because she prays and thanks God and praises God, and concluded that God fulfills all your needs.
I initially felt pissed- which for me is code for being hurt. I was hurt, I felt completely invalidated. Afterward, when I had time to think it over and calm down, I was no longer angry and much less hurt. But I was still frustrated, because I feel like so often no one wants to admit that life is hard. We want to say “I’ve given it to God” or “I’m just thankful for what I do have.” Well, these things are true. But I still struggle. I’ll repeat that- I struggle.
I’m a Christian. I believe that God loves me. I believe God will never leave me. I believe God is bigger than all my struggles. But just because I know all this does not mean that I am always happy.
I’m understanding more and more that the reason I was such a cold person for most of my life was not because I was so insensitive but because I am in fact, so sensitive. I feel hurt when I’m invalidated. I feel hurt when friends don’t respond to my emails. I feel hurt when friends or family members don’t call. I feel hurt when I see someone else hurting. I feel hurt when people value me more for my looks than who I am on the inside. I feel hurt when I am used.
What I’m learning is that all those years when I was so unemotional, it was because I was hiding my heart. I was hiding my heart, because it hurt to much to let it show.
Now I’m trying to be more vulnerable, more authentic, more real. And it hurts. And I struggle. And very, very often I feel lonely or misunderstood. I feel sad a lot, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t trust God. I know I’m blessed. I know that I have much to be thankful for, and God knows that I am. I do spend time praising God and thanking him and basking in the glory of the knowledge that I am fully loved and fully known by my God. But again, I still struggle. The phrase “life is hard” seems like a sick euphemism to me. To me life feels excruciating sometimes.
I keep thinking that everyone else has figured something out that I haven’t, but I read somewhere that most people are not as happy as they seem to be (experience as a counselor has not proven otherwise). Why is that? Does it make it worse to acknowledge our pain? I don’t think so. I think it makes us human, and I think it lets other people know that they can be human too.
So I’ll continue to be vulnerable, and I’ll continue to hurt, and I’ll continue to struggle. At least I’m being real; at least I’m being me…