People are sometimes shocked at honesty. For example, on my recent trip to Haiti, it was a medical trip and um, I’m not medical. Sure, I’ve worked several medical mission clinics over the years and am willing to do whatever, however my main job was keeping the (people) traffic moving, praying with people and sharing the gospel. But on Thursday, I was needed to be the “p-p nurse.” What is a p-p nurse, you ask? Well, it is the person who takes the PP, ahem urine, from the patients, dips the diagnostic stick into said PP and then reads and records the results. Let me reiterate, I will do anything that needed done, but I do not like PP. I was sure I would spill someone’s urine all.over.me. Yuck! So when the actual nurse stopped by to see how it was going and asked, “Do you like being the ‘p-p nurse?’” I exclaimed, “NO!” Ha ha. No, I did not like being the p-p nurse. I think she was a little shocked that I was so honest. She quickly replied that she would find me a replacement which I told her wasn’t necessary. I would be the p-p nurse and I was fine with it, but it never was going to be my favorite thing to do. 😉
Another example is in our LifeGroup. At the first LG of the year, we were filling out informational forms (name/address…) and apparently while I was engrossed in filling out my papers, we were given instructions for the next “get to know you” activity. The leader asked, “What would you like to get out of this group?” What I didn’t know was the instructions were to write down your answers. However since I missed the initial instructions, I blurted out, “Ok, I’ll start. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m looking to make new friendships. More than just LG, I’d love new friends to be social with. I looking for a group where we can grow together, be there for each other, rejoice together, bear each other’s burdens…” At the end of my needy dissertation, I felt like I was receiving a bunch of blank stares… The silence was broken when the leader thanked me for sharing, and that we were supposed to write down our answers 🙂. But people nodded in agreement. I think there was some shock at my honesty and transparency. But I wasn’t alone. Others were looking for the same thing. I broke the ice, with a jack-hammer, HA!
It’s weird when I meet people now for the first time and they just know the “Kendra of now”. However the “Kendra of now” has dealt with and experienced a lot, especially over the past three years. The negative things, the hard things are part of my story… part of who I am. And throughout it all, when “stuff” comes up, I pray I am communicating God’s faithfulness throughout it all. However, I can’t help but notice the awkwardness or surprise when I answer honestly simple questions about what I “do” for a living, or where we live, or future plans. Because our story is complicated it doesn’t take too long into the story that some of the back-story comes into play. Nobody wants to hear your non-warm-fuzzy-peach-keen stuff. Somewhere along the line, it’s become awkward and unexpected to be real, authentic or honest.
My friends, it shouldn’t be this way. No, we don’t have to unload all of life’s baggage into one introductory conversation, but life is hard. And God is faithful. We don’t have to gloss over the hard stuff. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He comforts us in all of our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves received from God.” If we never honestly share some of the hard stuff, then we won’t have the opportunity to share how God was faithful and got us through the hard stuff. God works all things for GOOD, so even in the hard stuff, God can be glorified. Our rough patches are not for nothing. God desires us to rely on Him, depend on Him and know that He is faithful in good and bad times.
Instead of honesty, authenticity or transparency, we throw out, “Oh, I’m fine” – in a martyr-like sigh. Why do we do that? When our two-year-olds are having a tantrum, we talk to them gently and tell them to “use your words.” Why? Because it is important to communicate what is bothering you, what you want, what you’re feeling. Let’s take a step towards honesty, authenticity and transparency – even in the hard times. Use your words:
I’m struggling with anger lately.
My debt is strangling me.
I’ve been having impure thoughts.
I’m really missing my mom.
I’m not bonding with my baby.
My marriage is not what it should be.
I feel stuck in my job.
My teenager hates me.
I feel like a failure.
Life feels unfair.
Honesty opens the door for others to bear your burdens and bridges your heart to others where you find out you’re not alone. Honesty brings LIGHT to stuff the enemy would rather you stew on in the dark. Honesty brings glory to God when we can say, “This is hard. God is faithful.”
Next time a fork in the road comes up in a conversation where you have to choose, do I want to get into this or not, trust God and be honest. He is faithful and may just use what you’ve been through to encourage someone else.