“Turn and greet someone around you!” the pastor says cheerfully.
You turn to the lady behind you and reluctantly shake her hand.
“How are you?” she asks.
“Fine,” you answer, even though you’re not.
We don’t tell the truth to strangers. Sometimes we hide it from friends. It’s easier to bear life’s burdens alone—to hide them under the surface of our hearts—than to take the risk of vulnerability, to share our pain with those around us. So we say we’re fine and pretend we’re okay, when in reality, we’re anything but.
Our impulse is to hide the ugliness of our lives, but that is not God’s intention. God, a relational Being, designed us for relationships with others. God’s design is one of openness and freedom, a safe place for us to share our burdens and be real with one another. But in a world altered by sin, we’re afraid of being authentic about our struggles. We fear what people think, what they’ll do, and what they’ll say.
But pretending we’re okay defeats God’s purpose for relationships. When we aren’t honest with other Christians about our pain and struggles, we are forced to carry the weight of them all by ourselves. We don’t have to live that way.
Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
The law of God is to, first, love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and out of that attitude, to love others as much as we love ourselves. God’s heart is for all of us to carry one another’s burdens. Just as Christ bore the cross, taking our sin and shame on His shoulders, God designed the church to do the same for members of the body.
Many young people don’t have serious Christian friends or mentors with whom they feel safe to share their struggles. But God sees this and, like any good Father, provides the earthly relationships we need for support. We simply have to ask! As we ask God for godly relationships, mentors and friends, our eyes are opened to see the people He brings along the path.
It takes boldness to be transparent. It takes courage to be vulnerable, to stop pretending you’re okay and tell the truth about your life. But there is power in the words of your testimony, no matter how boring it may seem. Sharing your story with another person is the first step to walking in freedom and joy. The beauty of transparency is in the liberty we receive. When we open up about past, our stories and our struggles, we are often surprised by how many people identify with our lives. And as people share in our stories, they share in our burdens—which we were never meant to carry alone.
Jesus Christ came to give us this freedom. A healthy, thriving church is made up of people who walk in this freedom, not judging the past but embracing the bright future Christ offers to each of us. But it is only by dropping the mask and being real with one another that we can come side by side and live out authentic faith.
God doesn’t want you to pretend you’re okay. He wants you to grasp abundant life:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
Our enemy uses judgment and insecurity to keep us from being transparent, because vulnerability brings healing. He steals our joy, kills our hope and destroys our relationships. But Jesus came so that you could have abundant life—far beyond the realm of “okay.”