Sometimes life’s pressures push and pull at me until my soul is scrunched up in a tight fist. Often this happens slowly over time, my soul reacting to first one thing, then another, then another. I think I am doing fine, until it is quite evident that I am not. Last week this recognition came suddenly as I spoke about a difficult topic. I hate it when I realize that I am struggling at the exact same time a room full of friends do.
It’s taken years to figure out what to do with this kind of discovery. Sometimes, I just push it away, hoping that I can outrun it. Most of the time, I write about it in my journal. There I can pour emotions into words and step back for perspective. Occasionally, I have the chance to unpack it with a trusted friend.
While I can (and often do) process life through my pen, I love to talk it out. To unfold the whole thing, and look at it together. This kind of friendship takes time to develop, but it so worth it. It is a gift to know someone is safe enough to open up the dark corners, to open the places of doubt and fear, conflict and turmoil. Allowing light and air into the corners of my heart helps me see them differently, and takes away both fear and isolation.
My Bible tells me “Submit yourselves one to another.” I think this kind of sharing, this opening up to another, embodies that command. It involves confession and recognition. My experience of this sharing always brings healing. Not because my friends have some magic formula for fixing the issues, but in the sharing, there is a fellowship of recognition, of compassion, of love. Sharing the complexity of my heart can be scary, but it most often met with nods of understanding, of whispered prayer, and of sweet grace.
In this sharing, I learn what I know, and what I don’t know. Friends share their own experience, their own corners. Encouragement and wisdom can be both given and received. There is little else that has had the powerful impact on my life than the discipline of sharing my heart with another. Except maybe, the privilege of being on the receiving end of a friend’s courageous unfolding.