I am handicapped.
It is my biggest secret. Well, I'd like to think so. Those who know and love me best know it's no secret at all, it's probably the most obvious thing about me.
I am painfully handicapped in getting into sharing "the ugly" of me. I have a terrible problem revealing, confessing, confiding my weaknesses, my struggles, my sin. God continues to convict me to grow in this. I keep learning that this is where the Gospel is applied so vividly in our lives, I want to be transparent without hesitation, to help and encourage others, to help me grow and mature, and bear fruit in God's grace that will last (Jn. 15:16).
I have a severe tendency to camp out on the positive, even to the point of irritating myself, because I have a very real, true, forceful desire to not add to anyone's weights, to be uplifting, an encourager. Sometimes I think it's like an obsessive compulsive tendency... (yeah... that's another post...)
As I grow in friendships, I realize that I do this to a fault. I 'handicap' the transparency of my beloved friendships in how I err on this end. I see that this tendency breeds pride in that I can avoid revealing my own 'dark places' and weaknesses, which I do not want to do at all. But I do, I do it without even knowing I'm doing it, and then, it's done.
There was a time I was simply afraid for others to see my 'dark places', my immaturity, selfishness, laziness, insecurity... Over time, with age, I become less and less concerned about how I am perceived when letting others in to see the real me, the good (fruitfulness in God's grace), the bad, the ugly.
In weeks gone by, God has opened my eyes to see what has been left in the shadows of my heart. I see that I now struggle with revealing struggles (ridiculous) because I have actually convinced myself that I am wasting another's time by asking them to help me, to listen, to speak into my life. I scold myself, thinking, "Don't waste their time and energy, Danae, asking them to do what you are old enough to do for yourself! Pick yourself back up and get over it!!"
It is true there are definitely times I need to suck it up and put those big girl panties on! :) I believe in these times! ;) But believing that I shouldn't ask for help, that I can always suck it up and do it on my own, is believing a lie.
I need my sisters to speak the Gospel to me, to remind me of God's Word, to speak truth and wisdom to my mind and my heart, to give me sound advice and loving instruction. I am slowly learning that I need to create and initiate opportunities for my sisters to speak into my life, weeding out the lie I've believed for far too long.
I need to hear them speak what I already know in my heart, because I can't always draw truth out and pick myself back up. I need to hear them speak because I don't always remind myself of God's unchanging truth, love, and character and how He applies all that is in His heart to my life through Christ for His glory. I need to hear them speak to confront the lies I yell at myself and choose to believe.
My husband says something from time to time that never seems to get too old for me to hear (I am paraphrasing, he says it better ;), "You're only as accountable as you want to be. The people God places in our lives can't do anything to make us or keep us accountable. It is up to us how open and honest we want to be, how much we want to grow in transparency (which I believe is a key sign of growing in humility; that's my, Danae's, two cents :), it takes practice. Our brothers and sisters in Christ can listen, speak truth, give godly advice. Their investment in our accountability is in simply being there to do this when we need them to."
I have pondered these things for some time. Weeks ago, when Michaela had a tonsillectomy, and since, while Brooklynn has dealt with strep, and Kevin has been sick, I have felt my capacity to handle life shrink down, having only the mental and emotional fortitude to spend on the 6 members of our household. :) In these "down times" I withdraw from life outside my family, from extended family and friends, from really pursuing church family, I've been doing this for years. I think it's a normal thing for wives and moms to do in these seasons. Obviously, I am tired in these times, my time is full with attending to my family, my focus is narrowed.
However, something came to light in these past weeks that I have not recognized before. This time I saw that I specifically withdrew from my friends because I wasn't necessarily uplifting to be around, I wasn't really positive, I was rather cynical and negative, I couldn't come up with anything especially encouraging to say when enjoying time or conversation with them, I found that I was avoiding interaction that went really deep or got too real. I'd pull away kicking myself for it. Who are these friends, these sisters to me, but the very ones I can confide in and share all my heart with, even and especially when I needed to be vulnerable? What was/is wrong with me that I would withold this part of me from them??? (I am visualizing Rapunzel in "Tangled', face sunk into the ground, groaning, "I am a despicable human being.")
These questions convicted me and I couldn't rest until I surrendered these things to God.
My beloved sisters in Christ, how I've failed you and robbed our friendship(s) time and time again from my lack of vulnerability, from my hiding. How patient, how gracious and kind you are to me, loving me in spite of my handicap, how I handicap our transparency with each other, because of my lack or neglect of it. How dear you are to me- I want to grow in sharing my life with you as I should, as I need to.
Gathering these ponderings today has helped me be still long enough to ask God to make and keep the soil in my heart soft, so these seeds can take root. I pray that through the watering and washing of the Word, by God's Spirit tending to my heart, I will grow in transparency and humility before Him, so I can grow in this before others, for His glory.
Some verses that have come to mind while I've been writing today...
"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." (Gal. 11:30)
"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses... for when I am weak, then I am strong. (Gal. 12:9&10)