Tonight, the group of guys that compose "cohort I" got together for our traditional mid-week dinner. This has become a much anticipated event during the intensive weeks in Minnesota. For one reason or another, we have settled on Fuddruckers for this meeting, which could also be called "a bucket of grease on a bun." Good for the tongue, but not the digestive track.
Anyway, tonight while we were chowing down on 1/2 pound burgers, the conversation veered towards a class we had recently taken "together" on-line. Overall, the class had been a difficult and troubling experience for me, and I ventured out in this conversation with a small critique of the class format. Little did I know that I had just pulled the proverbial plug out of a great and massive dike. For the next half an hour, sustained complaints and frustrations poured forth from this group of friends. We had all had similar, and equally negative, experiences with the class. And to think, I thought I was the only one. For three months as I had taken the class, I had convinced myself that everyone else understood the program and found the class useful and enjoyable. I thought it was best not to reveal my opinions because I did not want to be labeled as a weak student, or even worse, a complainer. You can imagine how therapeutic this half an hour was! To hear my private hurts be shared and affirmed publicly was wonderfully freeing.
I have been pondering tonight how often we go through times like this in life. We are convinced that everyone else has it figured out- how to have a good marriage, how to be a good parent, how to have a fulfilling faith, how stay positive at work, how to forgive an enemy- and so we stay quiet, unwilling to be the weak one or the complainer. And yet how often is it that in reality, our friends are experiencing exactly the same thing?
So I'm wondering, where do we get this need to put on the good face and keep quiet about the things we struggle with? Why do we try to cover up and hide the very things where we most need wisdom and strength? Could it be because we believe that we are alone?
Today, I just want to encourage you- in whatever you face, you are not alone. I can guarantee you, others have been there, probably more people than you would ever guess. And the key for us is to take risks, sometimes even small ones, amongst groups of friends and to open up and be honest. Try it- and you may find, like I did, that expressing the truth was the path to freedom. And a great night of conversation with friends.
Jesus said, "I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark." When we hold on to our pain and our weakness alone, we remain in the dark. When we find communities of friends where we can open up, we invite truth in, and in the right contexts we welcome the very light of Christ into our situation.
May you journey in light,