Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” (Proverbs 26:18-9)
We all show a “false self” to some extent. It may be the larger-than-need house that we have, the smile that we paste on at family gatherings, or the clothes we wear. Even at church, “How’s it going?” gets the standard reply, “Just great, thanks!”
Is it possible to escape pain in this life? We despair over poverty in foreign lands, the U.S. budget, a lost job or foreclosed house, a divorce, a parent lost to cancer, a child mixed up with drugs, or a dog that we have to put to sleep. We grieve for our friends’ pain, and the trials that they face, too.
Being brave and having it “all together” is honored in our western culture. We don’t want to appear too “needy” or “clingy” in relationships. We put on a show that we can handle any adversity that comes our way, smiling when we don’t feel like it. Maybe we trusted someone with information, or our heart, and we were betrayed. Now we are guarded, conditioned to not show our real self with our pain.
I admit that I’ve been envious when I would see a business colleague who looked like she had it “all together”. “What a great carefree life she must have with the perfect husband, children, and job.” I’d rarely engage her in a real conversation just assuming her outward appearance echoed her inward being, and it was nothing like the life I was leading.
Now I see with different glasses. Everyone has some brokenness, either in their own life or their friends’. Instead of a superficial exchange, I’m apt to want to linger in a conversation, eager to listen, extending an offer to share their pain.
We, as followers of Jesus, are sent into this world to be visible signs of God’s unconditional love. I pray that today you will extend your hand in friendship, listening, caring, and sharing the hurt that is in all of us.
Blessings, my friend,