I had a front row seat. I should have seen it coming. But I didn’t, really. I thought it was normal marriage stuff. Frustrations, annoyances, that sort of thing. And then, just like that, my friend’s marriage was over. The whole thing crumbled right in front of me.
Some details came out later and some things I’ll never know, but I couldn’t help but wonder, could I have done more? Could I have prayed more, said more, encouraged more if I had really known what was going on?
The other day I got an e-mail from a sweet reader. A reader who has once before reached out over hundred of miles and yet the tiniest space of the internet, to say hello. But this time she felt compelled to ask for prayer. Her request didn’t surprise me as much as the words she framed it with. “I know we don’t know each other so I apologize if this is overstepping.”
Overstepping. A simple prayer request. I’m struggling. Would you mind praying?
How could this ever be overstepping, friends? And yet and I share it because I know she is not alone in feeling that way.
We don’t want to share our hurts and our struggles, our aches and our loneliness; we don’t want to weigh anyone down with our mess. So we don’t. We crumble under the weight. We let it crush us, crush our marriages, crush our faith, while those around, even those in the front row, hardly even know what is happening.
It’s not meant to work this way, friends.
Galations 6:2 calls us to bear one another’s burdens, to stand by our sisters with shaking arms and help lift the weight of the load. But we can never do that for each other, if we don’t know the burdens even exist. Just as we can’t grow the gifts we do not see, we can’t bear the burdens we aren’t aware of.
We aren’t meant to do this life alone friends. We are meant to bear. But for someone to step alongside and bear the burden, for someone to link arms and join you in the battle, you must go first. You must be brave enough to share the burden, to bare the hurt, before a friend, a sister, can walk in and bear it with you. Do you see that?
I know your fear here. No one wants to be the girl who vomits her baggage over the rest of the well dressed and respectable world – the girl who over-shares, the weak one, the needy one, the mess. I get it. But a couple of things happen when we are not vulnerable enough, brave enough, to share.
We are crushed by the load.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Don’t fall alone, friends. It’s pitiful.
We rob our friends of the blessing.
I often respond to e-mail prayer requests by saying it’s an honor to pray for you. Because it truly is. This is my job as a sister in Christ. And it’s your job and your friends’ jobs as well. Don’t rob them of what they are called to do. Bare bravely and give them the opportunity to bear with you.
We tell the world that silence is brave.
Our walls show our friends how to live, they show our daughters how to live, they show the world how to live. When we grit our teeth, clench our fists and refuse to bare our hurts, we are showing our world that this is how it’s done. And we’re setting a terrible example.
We must be brave enough to bare so those around us can bear with us, friends. You don’t have to vomit, but you do have to let others in. We have to be brave enough to share a simple prayer request, even over the internet. Standing together is always braver than standing alone.