If I had a dime for every time I told someone I was fine, and I wasn’t, I would be a millionaire. When you feel like your heart has been trampled on, self-preservation by power and control can be the easiest thing to grasp. Building fortified walls and moats and trenches can seem like the best way to cling onto an ounce of dignity. May I tell you how well it has served me thus far? In reality, this method leaves me with a shiny exterior shell, but on the inside, I’m left hollow.
My struggles have left me senseless time and time again, since early adolescence. Disappointments send me reeling back to not so good days when I felt the world was too bleak to bear. Times of old become times of new. Past, present and future become the same – a hard lump in my throat and a pity-cloud overhead.
“No man is an island…”
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
I’ve been inspired by a Christian friend of mine who seems to have no problem opening up about her struggles with depression. She has opened up about how terrible she feels on a consistent basis. The fact that she admitted to these struggles without pause is what shocked me the most. Without walls to fortify the façade, people can see her in her weak moments. People can see that she is vulnerable. Our culture often sees exposing of weak moments to mean the person as a whole is weak. I’m learning this isn’t true. The ability to bear your weakness actually takes courage, as well as genuineness because is frees you from the temptation to appear perfect – something none of us can be. None of us can obtain perfection, but yet we try so hard to appear that we already are perfect.
Many people attempt to sell Christianity as a “mend all,” a ticket to an easy life. Although Jesus can mend any broken heart and give us daily assurance, he never guarantees us an easy, pain-free life. Even though our Lord is perfect, you and I are not. We are humans living in a fallen world, tempted to stumble and fall into detrimental thinking patterns.
There is a Native American parable I often think about: There is a grandfather who tells his grandson there is a war between two wolves going on inside him. There is an evil wolf which represents things such as greed, arrogance, anger, self pity, superiority, pride, resentment, etc. There is also a good wolf which represents joy, peace, love, compassion, empathy, generosity, truth, faith, humility, etc. The man’s grandson asks him which wolf will win. The grandfather’s reply is, “Whichever I feed the most.”
Doesn’t this ring true in Christianity? We are flesh, fully capable and prone to sin, but yet the holy spirit dwells within us. Whichever we listen to and nurture the most will eventually win us over. Our thoughts have the power to control everything about our perspective. We are deceived to believe our identity rests in:
– our status, so we chase careers and feel worthless is we are not in a certain position by a certain age
– our appearance, so we spend much of our time becoming a magazine photo and wanting more even after that is achieved
– our friendships, so we feel we aren’t worthy when someone decides our company isn’t good enough or someone lets us down
These are only a few examples. The truth is our identity is in Christ. He defines us and he values us no matter what our circumstances or status convince us to believe. Part of the power of Christ is actually allowing ourselves to believe it. He can move mountains for us and mend broken hearts, but first we have to stop building walls and step aside.
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