Friends, I have a treat for you today. My friend and colleague (from The Mom Initiative) , Melinda Means, is sharing her heart with you today. You will be blessed by her words. And...after reading this you will feel loved, love her, and love her heart for people and the Lord.
At the end of this post you can find out more about her recently released book, Invisible Wounds. You can find Invisible Wounds over at Amazon.
With faith, hope, and love,
The Risky Rewards of Reaching Out by Melinda Means
Often, we walk around in pain and despair, safely covered by our cloaks of invisibility.
We feel sorry for ourselves. We think no one understands.
Pain is a cruel master that tends to demand self-focus.
But how can others understand if we don’t tell them? How can they support us, pray for us, and love on us if we don’t give them the opportunity?
God made us for community.
We weren’t meant to go through difficulties alone. In Galatians 6:2, it says, "Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ." (NLT) Notice it doesn’t say, "Find someone to bear your burdens." It says, "share each other’s burdens" (emphasis mine).
God works through others to encourage and heal us, but He also wants to work through us, even in our brokenness (maybe especially in our brokenness!) to heal others.
The second part of that verse says, "in this way obey the law of Christ."
The law it refers to is in John 13:34-35 (NLT): "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."*
One of the most loving acts someone can do for me in my pain is to pray for me.
It’s the most powerful, loving act we can do for someone else.
It requires vulnerability, particularly when we're in a place of dark discouragement.
We have to be honest and real about our doubts and difficulties. We can’t sugarcoat it. When people have asked what they could do for me, sometimes I’ve simply said, "Pray for me. Because I’m struggling to pray for myself right now." Or, "I’m having a really rough week. I’m in pain and I'm discouraged. Please pray."
There’s an urgency in those kinds of requests that helps people understand the depth of your need.
God wants us to speak truth and perspective into each other’s lives.
Recently, I had a terribly discouraging week. I had challenging things going on in nearly every area of my life. My health was stinky. Overall, I felt I was ineffective, a disappointment to God and a big, fat failure. I don’t go there as often as I used to, but when I do, it isn’t pretty.
And then I went to church. The place where we all think we’re supposed to act happy.
A couple of younger women I happen to adore came up to me and asked, "How are you?" I’m supposed to be the older, wiser woman who shows them how it’s done, right? Maybe so. But I told them anyway. I mean I really told them. Not all the details, but I conveyed the depth of my discouragement.
One of them immediately said, "You know that’s not true, right? You are not ineffective. You are not a disappointment. God is enabling you to do some awesome things."
She wasn’t just being nice. My friend is kind, but she’s also a bold truth teller. She was speaking truth into my weary soul. She was giving me some much-needed perspective.
At my chronic illness group, there is a rare level of authenticity and sharing.
We pray for each other. I mean really pray for each other. Deep, desperate, Spirit-filled prayers. These are the kind of women we have to seek out. These are the women God wants us to be to others. Bold truth tellers. Real, godly, drop-to-our-knees prayer warriors. Women who will go to God in prayer regularly and specifically.
Find Your Inner Circle
Vulnerability is risky. Not everyone will understand our pain.
If they haven't gone through it, they can't relate. They might say we need stronger faith. They may not understand that healing from grief, pain, or loss is not a linear process.
Most people know what to do to help in crisis, but long-term wounds make people uncomfortable.
They can't fix it. We have to let go of unrealistic expectations, ladies. We have to let people off the hook. For the most part, people don't mean to say the wrong things. The benefit of reaching out—for you and for others—is worth the risk.
Don’t hesitate to share your story as God leads you.
However, seek out a trusted few with whom to share your deepest emotions.
I think of Jesus. He shared the testimony God had given Him with the masses, but He shared much more deeply and intimately with the twelve disciples. Even among them, His closest confidantes were reduced to just three, His inner circle: Peter, James and John.
Ask God to bring kind, wise, supportive people into your life. Pray for discernment.
Then take the risk to reach out to them. Let's share each other’s burdens.
* Source: The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament Edition, John F. Walvood and Roy B. Zuck (editors)
© Melinda Means. This post includes excerpts from Invisible Wounds: Hope While You’re Hurting. Used with permission.
Author Bio: Melinda Means is a weary soul in need of refreshment from the only Source who can quench our thirst. After years of chronic pain and questioning God’s plan, she has found the joy of seeking the Healer more than the healing. She is a professional speaker and writing coach, as well as co-author of Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Best Parenting Style for You and Your Family (Bethany House, 2015). Her website is melindameans.com.
About Invisible Wounds:
So many of us walk around looking fine. Hidden beneath the surface, however, are deep, painful physical, spiritual and emotional wounds. We feel isolated in our pain. We feel guilty about the private doubts we have about God and His goodness. We live alone with our invisible wounds.
In this book, Melinda draws from her long history with chronic illness—hers and her son’s—and also shares the stories of seven brave, beautiful women who reveal their hidden hurts. Throughout its pages, she tackles the tough spiritual questions and dark, raw emotions that accompany suffering and illuminates the path that leads to hope that heals.