Adversity. Criticism. Discouragement. Negativity. Overwhelmed.
Do you ever feel trapped by one of these things? Perhaps one comes at you, and you have no idea how to respond and get out of the rut. For others, one may hit you hard, and you know how to overcome it but seem unable to do what you know you should do. In either case, it’s easy to get stuck and be tempted to give up, give in, or both.
Naturally, I’m an optimist, sometimes annoyingly so. Therefore, when I am looking at situations and struggling to see past the negative, I know something is wrong. Another default tendency is to endure and fight harder. When I’m tempted to give up and walk away or when I start pretending like I don’t care, I’m in a bad spot. (To clarify, it’s basically impossible for me to not care, so by saying I don’t care, what’s really happening is that I care too much and feel powerless so I’m trying to cope.) I also love being married to my best friend, Whitney. We laugh together and genuinely enjoy time that we get together. When I’m not looking forward to time with her because I’m overwhelmed with all I have to do or a situation, that’s another sign that I’m off and heading down a bad path.
What do I do? I often try to suppress and keep going. Sometime the emotion flares up and comes out in negative ways (such as throwing a highlighter against a wall…bad decision because you have to clean it up.) I don’t deal with my frustration in a good way, and in the midst of my effort, I choose to be numb. I show very little emotion, don’t engage relationally, and just try to keep moving forward and get as much done as possible. As you have probably realized, this is NOT healthy and has adverse effects on my closest relationships. How do I engage with Jesus when I’m trying to do everything in my own strength? How do I engage with Whitney when I’m numb to emotion and distant relationally?
At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, I begin to break. I stop trying to do it on my strength and let the emotion flow. When this happens, I need to get alone and let all my emotion out. This is when I pray honest prayers…prayers that I don’t want anyone to else to hear. Prayers where I yell or angrily state whatever is on my mind and just come before my Father in heaven unfiltered. The crazy part of these prayers is that these are the kind of prayers God wants. These are the kinds of prayers we read in the Psalms where David and other authors say some crazy things in the midst of their honest reflections.
I walk away from these times rejuvenated, not by my strength by the power of the Holy Spirit within me, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. There’s one more key: I need to reach out to someone else. My restoration back to my optimistic, persevering, and relationally engaging husband is not complete until I’m honest with someone I trust. Jesus has designed you and me in such a way that we need each other. Until I open up with vulnerability to Jesus so that he can be my source of strength AND open up to someone else who can share my burden, I cannot be fully restored.
This blog is part of my restoration. It’s one thing to open up to my best friend and wife, Whitney, or to my best friend, Cody, or to go see my counselor, or to lean on someone I trust. It’s totally different to choose authenticity in a blog that anyone can read. It’s worth it. Why? One of Public Church’s core values says, “We choose authenticity because Jesus’ reputation is at stake.” If I’m authentic, I draw people to Jesus; when I pretend, I drive people away. It’s worth it to point anyone who reads to a Jesus who died for us in our flaws. And it’s worth it to encourage you to take the second and crucial step in your restoration by opening up to someone you trust. Your restoration will be incomplete until you do. Let’s move forward through the power of Jesus in us and dependence on Jesus followers around us.