Yesterday y’all. Yesterday was some kind of day.
My new book (shameless plug), was sent out into the wild. Everyone around me was melting. The dog went after the neighbors dogs (we’re still figuring out how she does around other pups), and folks at work were struggling. I had a good long – over the top – yelling session (I’m sorry neighbor children that happened to be here for that), popped a lime straw (one of my favorite sweet treats) into a sparkling water and went on a walk to calm myself down and pray.
Then – I decided to post about it on social media.
I almost regretted it – in fact I did for a minute so much that I almost took the post down. Because the responses came in fast.
First to come through was my good friend and neighbor, who – instead of judging or asking questions or even making me talk – came out and joined me in my sulk fest. During our walk she was able to acknowledge my emotions, help me see from an angle I wouldn’t have on my own, and didn’t allow me to sit in my anger. Thank the Lord for faithful friends!
The next messages, about a third of those that came in or so were from good friends legit doing mental health checks: once again, I’m so grateful. What I shared wasn’t “normal” for me.
The rest though – they surprised me. They were from individuals I know – and many I don’t – sharing their struggles, expressing the way they’re working on gratitude in the hard, asking for prayer, and even thanking me for being raw.
Once again, as a STRONG ennegram 9 who will do anything within my power to achieve harmony in my environment, and who feels the emotions of others strongly, I wasn’t exactly sure how to respond. But I did, to all of them. Some were quick exchanges, some went deep and required prayer and tears.
I realized something: we are not alone on the islands we sometimes think we are on (and have quite possibly built for ourselves) – at least, we don’t have to be.
Foundationally, We are Known by God
2 Timothy chapter 2 tells us that “The Lord knows those who are his,” and a song that has meant a lot to my family this summer by Tauren Wells cements this scripture in music, with the lyrics below:
It’s so unusual, it’s frightening
You see right through the mess inside me
And you call me out to pull me in
You tell me I can start again
And I don’t need to keep on hiding
I’m fully known and loved by You
You won’t let go, no matter what I do
And it’s not one or the other
It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known, fully known, and loved by You
I’m fully known and loved by You
God knows us. He made us. He loves us. And that is so powerful and something that cannot be understated or under-appreciated.
However, we’re also meant to be known by those around us… and this is a fact we’d often rather forget.
The World Makes This Hard
There are a lot of great things about the connections available online and in social media. We have access to information like never before. We are able to stay in touch with those we are not locationally close to anymore.
But: it’s become easier than ever to put on a big smile and push forward.
Somewhere along the line, we decided that we can use our social channels to boost our confidence, to collect likes and comments and compliments… and we learned that the best way to do it is to – literally – put on our best angles, best smiles, best backgrounds, and promote ourselves to the world.
It might not be because we want to become “influencers,” or even “famous.” But:
- It might be because everyone else is doing it.
- It might be because we’re falling apart and terrified that someone will find out (because we aren’t ready to deal with it).
- It might be because we’ve started using social media to gather the affirmation the world was never meant to give us.
- It might be because reality is hard.
- It might be that appearances matter more than we want to admit.
- It might just simply be easier.
These motives? They’re not malicious. They don’t make us horrible people.
But – they prevent us from being truly known.
We’ve built up a culture of “we’re all okay” standards and it’s not okay at all.
So… What Do We Do?
Listen friends: I’m not saying we start to air our dirty laundry on Instagram, or post photos of our emotional breakdowns on the regular.
But, I think we can start to reach out – in person – to those around us… the friends who might see that we’re breaking and join us on a walk, like the one I mentioned above.
It might mean that we deepen our friendships and relationships so that when the hard hits, we have somewhere to turn.
Maybe we need to turn off the filters online, and every now and share something from our reality (you have no idea how many people are likely experiencing the same or similar).
Perhaps we need to walk outside – especially if we feel like we don’t have these connections available – and start building. I kid you not, parking yourself in your driveway with a camp chair and some coffee could lead to the start of some beautiful friendships (sorry – I had to 😉 ).
It’s hard. I fully acknowledge and understand this.
Part of my emotional breakdown was that I share things – struggles – in my book that I’ve never openly talked about beyond a few friends. My story is now out in the world and that is somewhat terrifying. But, if we’re not willing to share and we’re not willing to be known, then we’re holding on to a wall that doesn’t need to be there.
We are already fully known by our creator, if the perfect God who created the universe knows our dirty and hard and raw struggles, why are we scared to let others – who likely share our struggles or similar struggles – in?
It might look different for each of us, but what I propose – like in all situations – is that we pray first… that we lay it out in front of our God and ask him to reveal things we may not be able to see on our own about our motivations, and how we’re connecting with those around us… and that we ask him to help us start to let others in. If we’re struggling to find close friendships we may need to commit it specifically to prayer, acknowledging our need.
From there, we need to develop an attitude of openness (when appropriate) that allows us to let others in, and allows ourselves to become known. A giant benefit of this is that it will allow others to do the same. When we can be real and honest, it’s amazing how walls fall down and relationships built on truth are established.
Being known changes everything: it means we don’t have to fight alone. We don’t need to feel like we’re drowning without a lifeboat. In fact, it may even help us develop hearts of gratitude in the long run, turning the hard into opportunities to see reality and practice thanks.
It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. But, it’s critical.
Are you willing to be known? Where can you start?