Almost a year ago (hard for me to even believe), I was undergoing a series of tests that would lead to a phone call that would forever change my life. For the sake of time, I’ll save you all the details, but I was driving home from the second round of testing, which included a thorough and very long ultrasound. I knew in that appointment that they would later tell me that I had breast cancer. You know how sometimes you just know? They spent over an hour digging around and taking pictures. I fought back tears the whole time; I just knew. As I drove home, I called my husband to fill him in, and all he could say was, “Don’t worry. Let’s just see. Everything might be fine.” But you see, I knew it wasn’t fine.
In the last fifteen years of our marriage, we haven’t had many blowouts, but this one... it was big. He was out of town, so there was no saving this for a face to face. I shared with him, in a very escalated tone, that I was just not interested in any of this surface stuff in our relationship—that, after almost twenty years of being together, there had to be more than that! I was so angry; I just wanted him to at least act like he was feeling something! After so many minutes of this conversation, he finally said, “What do you want, for me to tell you that I’m terrified? That I haven’t been able to think about anything else? That it’s killing me that I’m not there?”
I wanted to know that he was feeling something, that I wasn’t alone on what felt like a sinking ship. I wanted him to say, “Me, too. I’m scared, too. We can be scared together, and we will navigate this fear together.” I told him that I didn’t need him to be strong for me but, rather, what gave me strength was knowing that I wasn’t alone. I wanted him to name what he was feeling and not pretend.
I wonder how many of us are walking around just saying and acting like everything is fine; but inside, we are crumbling. We just want someone to be honest and say, “Me, too.” The thing is, this takes vulnerability, transparency, and courage. To start, to nurture, and to maintain a meaningful relationship, we have to show up! We have to show up with the suitcases full of whatever it is we are dragging around. They are so heavy. And I don’t know about you, but I am tired.
I have started reading a book in preparation for leading a study. The book is You Are Free—Be Who You Already Are. One of the very first things I read was this that Rebekah writes:
Freedom is for everyone who wants it—the lost, the wounded, and those weary from all of the striving. It’s for those who gave up trying years ago. It’s for the professional Christians hiding secrets. It’s for the angry and hurt. I write for you, for all of you. You are the church, the people of God. You were meant to be free.
FREEDOM! This is it, right? Don’t we all want this?
I’ve learned a lot about story of origin these last few years. I’m aware of it in my own life and in the lives of the people I love the most. Our past experiences really do shape so much of who we are. Good and not as good. Sometimes, I have to challenge myself in asking, “Do I believe God and who He says I am and who He created me to be?” Or is it easier just to pretend and turn away? To go about my life, doing what I do? It all comes back to the question that Andrew poses—the one that He who made us whispers in quiet moments: “Do you trust Me?”
“Do you trust Me with your kids, your finances, your health, your heart?”
Back to the story.
We know that God doesn’t promise that we won’t face trials. In fact, that’s very transparent in Scripture in several places. He does promise, though, that He will walk with us. As I spent time looking at the Scripture that Andrew shared, one that I’ve read and worshipped over in song (please tell me you remember Refiner’s Fire; please say “Me, too!”) in days past, I read it in a new light of this long season God has me in. I love my study Bible because, when I read from Scripture, I oftentimes just need more context and more words to help me along. So my notes from Proverbs 17:3 read this:
It takes intense heat to purify gold and silver. Similarly, it often takes the heat of trials for the Christian to be purified. Through trials, God shows us what is in us and clears out anything that gets in the way of complete trust in him. Peter says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – though your faith is far more precious than mere gold” (1 Peter 1:7). So when tough times come your way, realize that God wants to use them to redefine your faith and purify your heart.
Do you trust God enough to wait patiently for Him to bring good from a bad situation? I often have to do a gut check with myself on this one.
When we show up with all of our baggage and junk in a transparent and authentic way, God shows up, too. Not only does God show up—people show up, too, and they say, “Me, too!”
We aren’t meant to do this alone. You are not alone.