My girls were down the street at a friend's house, and it was getting dark outside. I walked out on the front porch, and yelled their names a couple of times, hoping to get their attention. It was time to come home. My yelling did no good. They couldn't hear me. I was barefoot, but thought I'd just walk to the edge of the cul-de-sac and be able to get their attention. No such luck. I walked all the way down the street to the friend's house. All the while, my tender feet unhappy with the pebbles on the road beneath.
The girls hopped on their bicycles and sped past me towards home. Meanwhile, I was careful about each step. Those tiny, sharp rocks can hurt bare feet! I didn't want to look like a dufus to anyone who might see me, so instead of tiptoeing to spare my feet, I tried to walk normally, albeit slowly. By the time I made it back into our yard and walked through the grass, I felt like I may as well have been walking on broken glass.
I was reminded of the painful paths we sometimes walk. Rather than letting someone else see the pain in which we walk, we put on a smile and pretend everything is fine. I think this is especially true in the Christian community. We've so often been told that the Christian life is joy-filled, and giving in to pain is a weakness. But as I mentioned in Prepared Through Pain, God sometimes uses pain to prepare us to worship and obey Him.
I believe there are many among us who are walking painful paths, but are afraid to share their pain. They walk the path alone, thinking that no one else would understand. They try to make their walk look normal: smile in place, Sunday School answers on the tips of their tongues. But keeping up appearances while walking in pain is difficult. And the feeling of aloneness mixed with the lack of authenticity can just about cause gaping, bleeding wounds.
When you take the chance of opening up to share your painful walk with another, you just might be surprised. You might find that you're not alone. You might find others who have walked the same path, and who have found healing. You might find a true friend in someone you've kept at arm's length out of fear. You might find grace instead of condemnation.