thoughts on hiding behind a smile when you are hurting.

This is a subject that has been on my heart for a long time.  Years, even.
But this week, I revisited it when I saw in the lives of people that I love very much the pain that came from hiding behind a smiling face that said "everything is alright" when it was far from it for a long time.  And I was inspired to share it.

Nothing good comes from secrets.  Nothing good comes from stuffing your pain deep inside.  Nothing good comes from hiding your faults and praying that no one will see them.

I know, because I did exactly that for a long time.  I wanted to be perfect.  Actually, I knew I couldn't be perfect, but I wanted it to at least look like I was perfect.  It wasn't until things fell completely apart and I literally could not hold it together any more that I realized that it was a futile attempt.  I realized that not only was I hurting myself, but I was hurting people around me.

None of us are perfect.  That's no secret.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  But for some reason, at some point in time, we decided that we didn't want people to see our struggles.  Our pride got in the way and we thought that we could make people think that we had things together.  But we aren't fooling anyone.

All we are succeeding at doing is isolating ourselves and others.

When you hide those sins, people look at you and they say "Look at her, she has it all together.  Why can't I be like that?"  and they shove their pain back down inside.  But let me speak from experience again and tell you that when you open yourself up and share your struggles and your hurts, God will use the people around you, your brothers and sisters in Him, to help you.  They can share your burdens, be a listening ear, give you advice, and keep you accountable.  You might even find that they've been there themselves.  That kind of love, the kind where people know your dirtiest secrets but love you anyways, that's the most beautiful kind.  It's what we all long for.  And it's the kind that Jesus gives us - because we can't hide from God no matter what and he loves us despite it all.

13 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.  James 5:13-16

The good news is that we don't have to be perfect.  We don't even have to be good enough.  Because of Jesus.  He died on the cross to cover our sins, to do away with those rules.  It's okay to struggle, because Jesus will help you.

The gospel is not that everything is alright.  The Gospel is that everything is going to be alright - because of Jesus, because of the cross, His love covers our imperfections.  The beauty is that we don't have to be perfect.

The next time a friend asks how you are doing, instead of just answering "Good," I challenge you to tell them the truth.  And if you really are doing "Good," then tell them why!