Standing in a crowded church on a Sunday morning it’s easy to assume that everyone has it all together. Everything is polished. We hide behind nice clothes, make-up and painted on smiles. We embrace, laugh and say, “I’m good. Thanks for asking.” There are so many people, each with their own stories of triumph – and heartache. Everyone looks pulled-together and perfect on the outside, but each of us have places of hurt and brokenness that we don’t let others to see. These are our hidden stories.
These are the stories that aren’t necessarily meant for the world to know. They are personal, intimate and need tender encounters with a love beyond what another human can give in order to one day become public stories. It’s the divorced mom whose heart is wounded; the widower whose spouse was taken too soon; the teenager struggling with depression; the abused child hiding her secret; the overlooked step-child; the 40-something waiting for “mister right”; the businessman on the verge of a breakdown.
We each have a cross to bear. There is something in each of our lives that is difficult and challenging – where we need someone bigger than us to get us through. Matthew 16:24 tells us that if we want to be follower’s of Christ – to have fullness in this life – we must turn from our selfish ways, take up cross and follow Him. We have a personal responsibility to let go of our self – our situations, challenges, struggles, roadblocks, hindrances, shortcomings, faults, flaws, selfishness tendencies – and follow God. No one else can do it for us.
Yet we aren’t called to go it alone. Galatians 6:1-3 gives us the charge to live in relationship, caring for those hurting around us: “Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.” (The Message, emphasis mine)
As Christ-followers we aren’t promised a perfect life, but we are encouraged to journey on it together. So let me ask this: Where are you living in relationship? Where have you taken the time to listen to the hidden story of someone near to you? Where have you stooped down and reached out to the oppressed lately? Where has your burden been shared by another? It should be our heart’s cry to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth and also to stand alongside others as they walk this same faith journey.