You sit in a small group at your church listening to people around you share testimonies and ask for prayer. As your turn to share approaches, you begin to squirm in your seat. All of these people have such difficult situations going on in their lives. Some struggle with depression and anxiety, some have dysfunctional family situations, and still others are sick or injured. The church rallies around these people, rightly seeking to comfort and encourage them. But your day-to-day struggles are not nearly as serious as those of others. Besides, you are a happy person with a great life–what could you possibly have to be struggling with? Suddenly, it is your turn to share with the group. You plaster on a smile and share a well-rehearsed testimony absent of any real struggle or heartache. These people don’t need to know about your personal problems anyway.
I’m one of those people that is terrible at being vulnerable. I would much rather convey my feelings through the written word than pour out my heart to someone in conversation. To be honest, it is because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that my struggles and worries will pale in comparison to the struggles and worries of those around me. I’m afraid that people will discount my struggles and see them as dumb. I’m afraid that I’ll just sound like a complaining child, so it is better to just deal with things myself and move on. Besides, my pride won’t allow for a crack in my emotional wall. I’m always okay and the people around me shouldn’t know any different.
Unfortunately for my well-built persona, the Scripture has something entirely different to say. Galatians 6:2 commands believers to “bear one another’s burdens,” while James 5:16 commands us to “pray for one another” and even “confess [our] sins to one another” (ESV). According to the Bible, Christians cannot experience true community until they are vulnerable with one another.
I have to be honest–even writing this makes me squirm in discomfort. I am so prideful and so fearful, but I know that God is trying to teach me something about these persistent sins. God has given me many people who care enough about me to listen to my struggles and concerns and to pray for me, if only I will let down my guard and realize that I can’t deal with everything myself.
Maybe you’re in the same situation. Maybe your struggles seem silly in comparison to the heartaches of those around you. But trust me, even though I have had very little experience in this, letting other Christians know and understand your struggles will help you to conquer them in the name of Christ. We are not (and honestly, cannot be) in this alone, as long as we choose to take advantage of the loving people God has placed in our lives. Wipe off your fake smile, let down your guard a little, and share your struggles with other believers so that, down the road, you can also share your victories through Christ.