A true friend sent me a picture this morning on Facebook. A man and his horse in the background with these words in the foreground . . .
Your greatest test is when you are able to bless someone else when you are going through your own storm.
How do we bless others when we’re going through our own storms? I’m pondering this in an impromptu fashion as I click away at laptop keys this afternoon.
My posts these days are not planned out, gorgeous literary essays. They’re just gut-honest, right-where-I-am frailties. And I want my poured out heart to be a blessing, not a burden. And from what I’m hearing, honesty and transparency and vulnerability are blessing. I heard today from a wise woman I love that being real blesses and distancing breaks.
Acting should be left to actors.
I grew up spending much time in my youth on stage in costumes and makeup and acting out roles that weren’t me. I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. And I was good at it. I got standing ovations. The real?
Part of me loved hiding behind and living through characters on stage. I could show THEIR vulnerability, not MINE. I could share THEIR feelings, not MINE. And if someone hated the character I played, well, at least it was the character I played and not ME. Acting is safe expression. But acting isn’t life-giving, not in real life.
I’ve spent a lot of my life living as if I’m on stage—performing for applause or acceptance—hiding behind my best self—refusing to show my WHOLE self—the good AND bad, the beautiful AND ugly, the success AND failure, the happy AND sad, because I’ve wanted acceptance. I’ve wanted to be liked. Who wants rejection or criticism, really? So I know well how to be fake—to present only what I want others to see—to manipulate their impression of me.
So what kind of example have I set? What kind of example DO I set when I refuse to be a whole human—when I refuse to let others see me as a whole human?
Honesty, transparency, vulnerability—putting oneself out there for others to see under skin the not so pretty, the struggling, the pain, the wresting with God—this is what blesses when I stretch beyond the difficult to find purpose and share hope. I feel comfort in kinship with those who know their lowliness, their frailty, their absolute need of God for everything—in everything.
Because that’s me.
I am small. And yet I am absolutely, wildly loved by the God who created the universe—and me—and you. We are all so small. Yet, we are all so loved. There is beauty in smallness. There is beauty in honesty and transparency and vulnerability.
I think of white tulle wedding veils—how they soften impressions—and yet, the groom desires to lift the veil and see the real He thinks is beautiful, just as she is. I think of grace given and how the gift melts hearts when received. I think of letting go of all I cling to for meaning and happiness and safety and I just want to fall freely into the arms of my God with no other care in the world. Yet . . .
I’ve been one of those masked, acting humans. I’ve spent so many years covering up and showing my best face on the stage of life. Yet . . .
I’m discovering a better place. Like when I found that special spot in the woods as a child with a fallen log just for me to sit and breathe peace and take in wonder. Today, I’m finding a special soul space where true friends share all things and love at all times. And this kind of love is bliss. Funny and strange, my flesh thinks, that weakness and pain and transparency and vulnerability are sending me the richest gifts possible—gifts I never dreamed.
I received two cards this week from true friends. Two gorgeous cards with a few heart-felt sentences scratched out to tell me I’m loved in the midst of our family crisis. And I cried tears of thanks that someone would take the time to love like that. And this kind of love comes when one dares to be weak and transparent and vulnerable. And even better? I’ve been told that my weak and transparent and vulnerable has been ENCOURAGING! Oh God, I thank you even though I’m shocked! Because I want to help and not harm. I want to encourage, not discourage. I want people to know that there is hope and purpose in pain. I just have nothing to give right now other than my empty self.
But I’m learning that LOVE is here for us who will receive.
True Love is True Life.
I am full of gratitude for true friends who care enough to interrupt their days for a second, or a minute, or an hour—however they are led—to show care—however they are led—in a card sent, in a Facebook message, in a phone call, in a meal. I’m not picky. I’ll accept love expressions however they come from whomever they come with overflowing gratitude.
And Lord, help me to love others like this and in doing so, to love You more. Because we NEED each other. And there should be NO guilt and NO fear in HOW we love. A hug. A visit. A meal. A card. A Facebook message. A prayer.
Have no words? It’s OK.
Just do something, anything.
Whatever we do from the heart is love and love never fails to heal, in some way.
Love casts out fear. So just love, however you want. True Love is received by those who have hearts to receive. However we feel led, let’s LOVE one another! And let’s be thankful for however we’re loved.
So I thank you, dear friends, for your love expressions.
Our struggles are great and they are not going away. Barring a miracle, our family has a long and hard road ahead. But with God and with people who dare to love, however they can, we will make it. And we will always be truly appreciative of any love gift. And my prayer is that, in some small way (or big, if God wants), our current struggles will be transformed into blessing for many.