Ok. So here I go again, getting all vulnerable and transparent. I hate it. And I love it. I hate it because why in the world would anyone want to expose themselves for anyone and everyone to see, to know? Because such raw exposure can have devastating consequences. For heaven’s sake! Someone I don’t know might think I’m weird. Or worse. Someone I KNOW might think I’m weird. Or worse!
Being open and honest is one thing most people want—as long as it’s the other one who’s being open and honest. I know this is truth from my years getting paid really good money sitting in a Michigan Avenue office in Chicago, listening to others tell all.
People paid not just for my psychological expertise but also, perhaps more, for confidentiality. Being a psychologist is like being a priest. A flawed and broken human being comes into a private space and confesses all the things they would never tell another soul. They’re looking for answers. Most of the time, they’re looking for absolution. People want to be ok—to know they’re ok, accepted, and loved anyway, despite all their flaws. People want and need others to say they’re ok.
As for me, the past professional, all dressed up with impressive letters and a couple periods after my name on the door? I always believe people are ok just because God made them. That’s our starting point.
Once people know they won’t be damned for their flaws, that maybe—in fact—they might find someone who can empathize with their pain and suffering because, I too, experience pain and suffering—well then—miraculous healings take place—in both hearts and minds and souls.
A psychologist’s office—a priest’s confessional—a private living room where two souls can share true hearts and actually be FOR each other and never AGAINST each other? Who doesn’t want that?
But someone has to start. Someone has to lay themselves down and bare their soul a bit. Someone has to be the first one. Otherwise, we’re all just playing strategy games, aren’t we? We all pick out our mask for the moment and avoid being real. And we leave each other starving without God’s manna for the moment that would heal.
So I’ll put myself out on the proverbial limb today and say . . .
I’m not doing so great.
Having come back from five days in Florida with the warmth and the sun in abundance every—single—day, I am down—and cold—and the wind whips at me coming straight out of the west, gnawing my soul. Our blinds are pulled closed, offering extra insulation from the sub-zero temperatures and even less light. Our horses are covered in heavyweight blankets up to their ears. I still need to feed twice daily and clean their stalls.
I need to take care of those who cannot care for themselves. And I’m not just talking horses. Three kids—two now adults—with challenges unlike most. It wears on one when I’m not leaning on God, which is more often than I like to admit. But this piece is about admitting . . .
I’m getting older and my bones ache. Ski injuries have left both knees a bit weak. No doubt—my fault—but I ache anyway in this cold.
And it’s too quiet here.
The house is empty with two kids grown and gone and one away at school all day. There’s a dog who wants to play but her mama’s a wimp who won’t face the frigid winds to have her fetch or go for a hike. Mama makes a lame attempt at indoor exercise by throwing that rubber purple bone down the stairs so she will fetch and return. Stairmaster training for dogs. It’s a win-win situation. I’m dog-tired. So I want to get the dog dog-tired too.
So I know. I know. I know I ought to be praising God right now and thanking Him for every little good thing in my life and—voila! I would be—happy! Easy recipe, right?
Well, I’m just not a sanguine personality. HAPPY doesn’t come EASY for me. I have to fight and fight hard against my interior terrorists, against the demons that hack away at my peace.
Every day is a battle. Sometimes, so are the nights. Like when I lay awake and my mind won’t turn off and I’m mad at my hormones that cause an incessant throwing off and pulling on of covers. So I pray to sleep and then even the praying causes me not to fall asleep and before you know it it’s 4:30 AM and I have to get up at 5:30 AM so I might as well get up anyway and I’m writing in run-ons on purpose just so one person might get what it feels like to not be able to stop the incessant inner chatter and dialog until that dialog with God pays off and he puts me back to sleep, thank you GOD, even for the half hour!
There. I’ve spilled my guts.
Go ahead and shoot. (Just so you know—I pressed that last period button with extra force just to reinforce what I just wrote, for anyone at all interested in knowing this trivial bit of information about forcefully pressed end punctuation.)
So here’s the kicker. Regardless of what anyone thinks of me—regardless of what even I think of me—God thinks something of me—and you.
God loves me and you being real, no matter what. God grieves when I’m fake—when you’re fake—because fake is a lie and fake separates. Fake doesn’t bring hearts together. REAL brings hearts together. Real people. Real stories. Real experiences with no sugar-coated renditions.
Yes. REAL HEALS.
So go ahead and laugh. Go ahead and judge. Go ahead and gossip to the one you can’t wait to text or call or email. Go ahead and say to the other, “Told you so! She’s nuts!”
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. (If Rhett Butler can say it . . .)
Because here’s the most amazing thing I learned as a therapist and even more as a Christ-follower . . .
I learned to do what I was told NOT to do by those who think they know so much . . .
I learned to self-disclose sometimes—to be honest—to be REAL—to be transparent for the sake of another’s heart and mind and body and soul.
I learned to be REAL with the ones I was helping heal.
Yes, sharing one’s real self as a psychologist is tricky because the conversation’s focus should never become self-serving. That’s why wisdom and discernment are essential. But prudent, courageous, other-serving transparency does heal. Why?
Because real connection heals.
We don’t need to pay therapists—we don’t need to BE therapists—to share our dark sides or our frightened interiors.
Or do we?
Have we become so enamored with ourselves and the personas we want to project that we care more for our image than for another’s well-being? For our own well-being?
Have we forgotten that bowing to images of any kind is idol worship and idols worship kills the worshipper, eventually? Have we forgotten that we are ALL sinners—that we are ALL broken—and that by admitting this reality to another is what brings healing not just for ourselves but for others?
Where has the regular act of confession gone? We don’t need a box or a priest. We Christians have Christ, our great High Priest. But let’s not forget that Christ modeled being real, sharing weakness, asking for help and support. He asked for help not just from the Father, but from the people around him. He showed us, in the flesh, the importance of real connection—of connection that occurs when one dares to be real.
Yes. I know full well that being real is risky. I’ve suffered. I know.
Someone might think badly of us. Someone might use what we reveal against us. Someone might decide they don’t like us or want to continue in relationship with us.
Someone might actually kill us, not just relationally or emotionally, but physically. Hard to believe in this country where we still have freedoms others in the world will never know, this side of heaven. Hard to believe in this country where we don’t fear someone kicking down our front doors, kidnapping us just because we call ourselves Christians, holding us captive for unknown periods of time, marching us out onto some sandy beach, hacking off our heads.
But really? I do believe most people would rather have their heads hacked off and have their innards thrown into a sea than to ever let another human being see their real innards.
I get it.
This blog post won’t create warm-and-fuzzy feelings for most. This blog post will probably disturb. This blog post most certainly won’t be shared because who wants to share anything in this present age that isn’t warm-and-fuzzy, feel-good, immediate satisfaction guaranteed? And for those readers who think I might be trying to manipulate into getting them to share my writing? Well, all I can speak is truth. It’s up to you to believe—or not. Truth is—I don’t care. My goal here is to write as I believe the Holy Spirit in me leads. If this writing only resonates with one—only helps—just one? One is enough.
So you, the just one. Want to get more healed?
Dare to show more than what you THINK is your best side. Because maybe your WORST side might just well be what helps another heal. And what helps another heal will always heal you too.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16.
Post script: Can you discern the real from the artificial in these photos?