I am repeatedly surprised by how powerfully God works when we simply share with others our spiritual poverty, our mess, our brokenness, our fallenness, the specific way in which we absolutely do not have it all together and need Jesus. This was brought home to me again last week when I shared my story of rescue about how God met me in my depression. Afterward several people said they struggle with periodic depression, too, and how much it helps to know they are not alone.
I don’t know why I am surprised when God uses such upside-down encouragement as balm for His people, but I am. I shouldn’t be because I can think of how encouraging it was to me when I was in the pit to read William Styron’s Darkness Visible or to talk to City Pres members and others who had felt the way I was feeling and could offer perspective and hope that I would some day come through it, too. They answered my unspoken “You, too?” with “Yes.”
C.S. Lewis talks about this phenomenon in the context of friendships. In The Four Loves, he says, “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” I think we are hardwired by God to be deeply healed in these moments of connection with other people.
Specificity is key. I can much more easily say something general like “I’m a mess” than I can say, “I was lying on the floor in fetal position today” or “I drank too much last night.” But the generic admissions don’t connect with the gut and don’t elicit a “You too?” They don’t heal on either side.
Satan wants us to feel alone. He wants us to think there is not another person in the whole world who feels now or has ever felt the way we do. He especially wants us to think that no one in our church and immediate community has felt or feels the way we do. He wants us to think that if others knew, they would not love us or want to be around us.
We don’t need to make up sins or weaknesses we don’t have. We don’t need to share everything with everyone. But let’s all try to listen to when the Holy Spirit is pricking us to say something and then be brave to share in those circumstances.
Let’s kick Satan in the teeth and tell him he cannot win. We refuse to believe his lie that we are alone and unloveable. It just isn’t true.
Julie Serven craves shalom for people and places. She enjoys writing for nonprofits, editing books, helping people with literacy skills, hearing people’s stories, exploring all things OKC, yoga, NPR, and spending time with her ultracool family.