I went through something, on the night before Easter day, and into Easter day itself, that I was compelled to share. At first, it didn’t even occur to me that sharing this private pain would be of interest, or help, to anyone else. It wasn’t really a decision to keep it private, but more a subconscious assumption that I would just bear my cross silently. Why would anyone want to hear about my issues? I was brought up to have a ‘stiff upper lip’ and forge on. Two things changed my mind and made me see that sharing my own private moments of helplessness and pain are absolutely necessary.
The first is the example of Christ. The power of God, working through our weakness, is to be shared. By keeping my own weakness and suffering private, I impose my own will and understanding, in place of the power of God, to try to transform these things from a weakness into a strength. This might seem to work sometimes, with some things, but ultimately it is a dead end. Just look at the bible as an example. What if all the stories were about the strengths of the apostles? What if they all were just shown in their best times? There are profound teachings being conveyed through the frailties and imperfections of even those who lived WITH Jesus.
Second, I was reminded of a friend who has courageously shared his own private battles with anxiety. I won’t mention his name because I don’t want to do so without his permission. By all accounts, however, he is a skilled and powerful man. Others come to him to learn to defend themselves, learn the art of the Jiu Jitsu, among other things. Looking at him from the outside in, one could easily believe this is a man with very few fears who has it together in a way few do. Yet, he chose to show a part of himself that many would choose to hide. They might fear it would damage their ‘brand’, that they wouldn’t appear as tough and skilled as they once had. What actually happened is that, once others realized someone like this, someone they viewed as so skilled and different than they were, could suffer from similar things they do, a new and totally transformative power was released. The power realized from our common perceptions of strength is limiting and impermanent. The power that arises out of an affirmation of our weaknesses and suffering is transformative and eternal.
So, I chose to share my private pain also.
What I went through, just after finishing the final touches on the sermon I uploaded before Easter, after spending a great day with my family, and after getting in a great workout, was like a tap on the shoulder from God. It was as if He was reminding me not to get caught up in the world because it can never truly satisfy.
For those of you who don’t know, I am Type 1 diabetic. I have been so for just over 28 years. Without any warning, and after feeling great after my evening workout, my blood sugar, unexpectedly and without any reason I could understand, shot up to over 600 (normal is about 80-120). I had done nothing ‘wrong’, or different, than I usually do.
Although my wife’s birthday was on Easter Sunday, and we had planned to go to church and visit family and all the things one might expect to do on this holiday, I was thrust into a life threatening situation. I took insulin, but there was little change in my blood sugar levels as there is normally. This was different. This was dangerous.
So, I spent most of the night, and into early morning, carefully trying to lower my blood sugar without being in danger of going the other way and being too low. I slept for a short time and then continued to try to ease my blood sugar back to a safe level. It wasn’t until about 3:00 PM, the next day on Easter Sunday, that I was finally able to safely lower my blood sugar to the point where I could eat a meal. I had missed all the plans I had with my family and missed the opportunity to celebrate my wife’s birthday. But, I did wake up.
If I had suffered all this, as I have many times before, as my own private little hell, then that is exactly what it would have become. And, it would have remained that. There was no romantic ending, or music playing in the background, while I struggled to feel better. It was just work and pain. There were moments when I prayed with hope, and others when I asked God to ‘take this cup from me’, as Jesus did, because I was just tired and sick. It certainly wasn’t what perfect faith looks like, but it was what my faith looked like.
Monday, when I talk with a friend, or go to kickboxing, or take care of some errands, will anyone know what I went through over the weekend? Would they have known this reading my Easter sermon? They wouldn’t be able to know the real me, only the me that they think they see. It is my place to share myself with people- even the painful parts I think others might use against me, or that might make me look ‘bad’ or weak. Allowing myself to suffer in public is allowing God to transform my weakness into something that can actually be a source of transformative faith for others
I encourage you to share some of your private pain with others. Maybe start with something small, something you would normally keep to yourself. Give your issue to God and let Him transform it into a blessing for others. You might be surprised how far reaching, and profound, your sufferings and weaknesses can be once you give them to God to be used in the world.
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