Friday, April 29, 2011


I tend to be a mostly private person.  I used to think of myself as “intensely” private, but I’m not quite as dramatic as I used to be (don’t tell the hubs I said that, though… I’m sure he’d disagree!) so I can’t really classify myself that way any longer.  I know there are others out there who are vastly more private than I.

I used to guard my privacy with closed-fisted intensity.  There were parts of my life -hopes and dreams and thoughts and fears- to which no one else was privy.  This was mostly due to a fear of being laughed at or judged.  Which essentially means: mostly due to my insecurity.  As I’ve grown (matured?), I’ve come to realize that privacy can be overrated.

Side Note: I’m not talking about blathering every thought that comes to mind, or telling complete strangers (or even people I don’t know well) my life story.  Obviously, there are social situations where keeping your mouth shut is preferable.  We have to have balance, though!

Sometimes, privacy can lead to loneliness.  We were created as relational beings, which means that it is in our nature to relate to others and share life and life experiences with them.  We were made to connect with our Creator as well as other people.  Of course, this is two-fold.  First, we connect with others for our benefit.  Secondly, we connect with others for their benefit! If we withhold ourselves from others, they don’t have the advantage of all that we have to offer, and that’s a shame. 

Other times, privacy can lead to a sense of superiority.  It is very easy to pretend that life is “perfect” if we aren’t being transparent.  While we all know that no one has the perfect life, it is very easy to look at someone who seems to have it “all together” and be a little bit jealous.  At one particularly difficult time in my life, I was harboring the hurt deep inside.  A friend who came over to my house saw that I was doing a Bible study called “Freedom From Stress and Worry.”  My friend exclaimed, “Do you stress and worry?! You always seem so calm!”  I assured her that I had all of the same faults as anyone else, but on the inside I was dying.  She had no idea just how deeply engrained the stress and worry were in my heart… because it was a secret.

Two years ago, all my private pain was spilled out for all the world to see, and honestly, there have been few things more freeing.  First of all, the judgment I feared never surfaced.  The things that happened were all positive.  People came out of the woodwork to love and support me--- I was sustained by my God, but also by many of those who knew my circumstances.  All barriers were erased; my life was an open book for anyone to read if they cared to know.  That being said, I didn’t go around telling everyone every detail of my circumtances to every person I know (and certainly not on the internet!).  I’m just saying that if you had asked me how I was doing, I wasn’t going to say, “fine.”  I was going to be honest.  And as things in life have improved, I can still be honest when I say that “I’m doing really well today!”

My experiences during that time emphasized to me the need for us as human beings to relate to each other.  My painful experience has given me a huge appreciation for those people in my life who are transparent.  It is encouraging to know that other people have hurt like I have!  Also, my ability to be transparent about my hurt has let other people know that I know how it feels and I can sympathize--- and relate.  This kind of connecting has led to some moments of testimony for me, and I start to think that maybe, just maybe, my pain will be worth it if I can help other people because of it. 

Sometimes, pride gets in the way of relating to others.  For example, if I am a private person and I don't want anyone to know what's going on in my life, I'll hide it.  That's pride, because insecurity is pride at its root.  But sometimes, we don't tell people what's going on in our lives because we don't want to burden them... and this is a mistake!  We need the help and support of others--- those who will help us to bear our burdens as we travel the straight and narrow! 

On the other hand, sometimes I don't ask a person if something is wrong because I'm afraid that it might come across as "prying."  From my experiences, though, I've learned that most of the time when people are going through something, they want to talk about it with a sympathetic ear, and a lot of times they are just wishing someone would ask how they're doing.  They don't volunteer the information because they don't want to burden anyone, and you can see how this creates the colloquial "vicious cycle."  Well, people, ASK.  What's the worst someone can say to you?  "I don't want to talk about it" is pretty much the worst, and that's not a rejection of you.  Besides, like I said, MOST people do want to talk about it... they're just waiting for someone to care enough to ask.  Proof positive--- no one has ever told me to buzz off when I ask them how they're doing.

I would much rather be told "that's none of your business" than to find out down the road that someone needed me and I wasn't there for them.  So, if I ask you nosy questions, please know that it isn't because I want to pry... it's because I really care!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Can Have Me

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreams
Would I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life…

       -You Can Have Me, Sidewalk Prophets

Sometimes I think that America is a very difficult place to live for Christ.  Don’t get me wrong; we have many, many blessings.  Sometimes, however, I think that all of the “comfortable” blessings make it harder for us to serve God.  I don’t mean to trivialize the sufferings of persecuted or martyred Christians, but it seems to me that it would be easier to die once for Christ literally, than to have to choose to die every day figuratively for a long, healthy lifetime.  Again, as I said, I don’t underestimate the difficulty of choosing to die in the face of persecution.  Even as I type this, tears sting my eyes as I think of William Tyndale, being strangled then burned at the stake before mocking eyes.  There have been many, many devastatingly beautiful deaths since the beginning of time, but none so beautiful to God as those that die in His name. 

Still, Christ said that it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven (Matt. 19:24).  The way I see it, we are too comfortable to recognize our true need.  I hear the words to “You Can Have Me,” and I envision Christ saying to the disciples, “Come, follow me and be fishers of men.”  Those disciples dropped what they were doing and followed Him, giving up all they had.  But do I give up everything for Him?  He has called me; am I willing to give up all that I’ve held dear and all of my dreams?

The latter part of that line is exceptionally powerful to me because my dreams have meant so much to me through the years.  I've been a daydreamer for as long as I can remember, and have wanted so many things out of my life.  I've been convicted lately that I must be willing to give up those dreams for the cause of Christ.  I cannot honestly say that I would gladly give up those dreams.  How selfish and sinful that sounds!  That I would deem my own silly, temporal dreams more important than my God's will is simply ludicrous, and seriously deluded.  Yet, our society screams that it is our "right"--- to live the “American Dream” is our ideal!  This is part of why it is so difficult for Americans to live fully surrendered, victorious spiritual lives.  We are too busy trying to live our dreams.

I have to remember that God’s plan for my life would eclipse my dreams in every way, and “You Can Have Me” serves as a reminder each time I hear it on the radio.