I am the next best thing to a preacher’s kid.
I’ve gone to church my whole life. From the nursery, to Sunday School, to AWANA, to youth group, to interning at the youth group, not to mention going to “big people church” on Sunday mornings. Plus the youth retreats, conferences, camps, VBS, Christian books and blogs, and Youtube channels. In short, I’m in church every time the doors are open. I’m the “choir” people are talking about when they say “preaching to the choir.”
Because of this, I sometimes go into church with this “been here, done this hundreds of times” attitude. I like the idea that I know everything, or at least know more than my peers.
So when I don’t know something or when I mess something up, I try to ignore it. I try to hide it. I don’t want my friends or my youth leaders or my parents or—you get the idea—to realize I don’t really have it all together. I want to be the perfect one, and most of the time, I succeed with portraying that image.
But that image is only that: an image. A façade. I don’t really have it all together.
And yet, I feel like I should. Like if people found out that I struggled with jealousy, insecurities about my weight, lust, insecurity about everything else, they wouldn’t like me anymore. They wouldn’t want to be my friend. They would treat me differently.
The thing is, everyone else thinks the same way. We all struggle with something, and sometimes this battle is with things we know are wrong.. Things we hate, things we hate about ourselves. We want to stop, but we don’t know how because “no one else is struggling with this” or “no one else knows how it feels.” But no one tells us we are not alone.
Ann Voskamp, New York Times bestselling author, says,“No one tells you that the shields you carry to keep you safe, they become the steel cages that keep you alone.” Not only do we struggle with things we hate—things we wish would go away—but we struggle with them on our own. We want a way out, but there’s no one to show us the door. We stumble in the dark and can’t see the others around us, stumbling just like us. We reach for the light switch but fall before reaching it. Just when we think we’ve found the door, we find a room as dark and lonely as the one before it.
I can’t do this. Desperation runs through my thoughts. I’m not strong enough on my own.
But in the dark there’s a whisper. A whisper that, with just words, brings light.
You are not alone, the Voice says. I am strong enough.
I can’t do this on my own, but I don’t have to. You don’t have to. We have the grace of our Savior. We have each other. We just have to be brave enough to admit, “I am struggling. I am hurting. I do not have everything together.”When we can be honest with ourselves, we can give grace to others. When we have the courage to say, “You know what, I’m not okay,” we can give others to same courage.
And together, in our brokenness, we come to God. We come to the feet of Jesus. We come with bleeding knees, bloodshot eyes. We put down the shields and tear down the walls.
We are needy, insecure, emotional. We are imperfect. We are not alone.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9
You are not the perfect one. You are not the nice one. You are not the good girl.
You are loved. You are forgiven.
You are not alone.