I am a verbal processor. If something is going really well in my life, or off the rails completely (a common occurrence), every last friend, sister and obviously my hairdresser will know about it. I want empathy, advice, mutual celebration or mourning and endless excuses to grab Rosé. But I realize this isn’t the case for many less extroverted friends. Lots of us have difficulty being vulnerable and sharing our innermost thoughts, fears, shames, and struggles, for so many different reasons.
It’s of course fine to be a private person (we’ve all shuttered watching that “uninhibited” friend literally post her own childbirth) but problems can arise when we don’t have at least one or two people in our lives to share our real struggles, concerns and even our victories. Here’s why…
1. There’s Freedom In Confession
James 5:16 says, ‘confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” This verse can be misinterpreted to believe “confession” is some deep dark sin like looking at porn or hiding your husband’s keys so he can’t go to the poker game (I repent, Lord!). But sometimes we forget that worry is a sin. And man, do we worry. We deal with constant concern over kids, our relationships, our finances, our never-ending battle with our bloated gut (some are worse than others!) and the list goes on. Psychology 101 tells us it’s harmful to keep fear, anger, sadness, etc. bottled up. But why?
From a spiritual sense, when we don’t seek counsel from others, we’re only left with the voice of our enemy, who instead of encouraging, comforting and wisely advising, will whisper lies and anxiety-driven thoughts into our minds without ceasing. You deserve this. This is just your cross to bear. Did you really think he would love you forever? But when sharing our feelings out loud to another…”I don’t feel secure in my marriage” or “I think my teen might be cutting”…”I feel like I’m angry all the time”…change can actually happen. Our friends/family will know how to pray for us, and we’ll have others to partner with through this season. The difference is night and day.
2. The Shackles Of Shame Are Broken
Shame has one goal: to keep us silent. When we’re unable to share our prayer needs, fears, worries and struggles, we’re right where shame wants us. Alone. Censored. And stagnant. We’ll stay powerless if we refuse to open up about our needs. I’ve struggled with so much of this through life, shouldering so much regret and shame over mistakes I’ve made in mothering. The problem is, the bad feelings just mount, surfacing in recurring, unwanted thoughts that could legit undo us, if not dealt with. There’s nothing we’ve done or haven’t done that some other Christian out there hasn’t also. Don’t let self-protection or pride stop you from opening up to others. There is so much relief in sharing.
3. Your Answers Might Be Found In Others
I’m going through a particularly difficult season in my mom life, that has brought a special mix of humility, vulnerability, and anxiety in talking about it with even my own family. It’s just hard for some of us to share what’s really going on behind closed doors, and the emotions that’ve been bubbling up in our thought life. Not only does sharing bring comfort and freedom, but our help and guidance many times lies in those we turn to. Aside from counselors and therapists, we can gain so much insight, wisdom and unique encouragement from the people closest to us. It’s easy to discount or overlook the advice of our own mothers, sisters or husbands, but God has them there for a reason. So many times just talking about my problems with friends has led to a one of them sending a podcast, or book, or connecting me with a friend going through a similar struggle who’s willing to talk over coffee. We aren’t meant to navigate life alone, and as smart as we think we are, there’s always something we can’t see or realize in our own lives, without the help of others.
4. You Realize You’re Not Alone
There is no sin, unique worry, or stressful circumstance that another Christian can’t identify with. Now solidly in my fourth decade of life, I can confidently attest to two truths: God is good. And people be crazy. I’ve been straight up shocked over the years seeing “great moms,” “perfect marriages,” and “strong Christians,” struggle or fall in the ways they have. It’s not something to celebrate. But the truth is we all fall short of God’s glory, and there are no pedestals (or pulpits for that matter) in the Bible. We’re all on a journey towards being more like Jesus, and we all have unique sets of weaknesses, past trauma, and generational baggage to deal with. If you find a mature Christian friend, nothing should shock them and certainly not cause judgment. There is so much freedom in realizing you’re not alone.
5. Talking Just Feels Good
There’s a reason women talk about 20,000 words a day, when men tap out around 7,000. I see talking as an emotional necessity. Women are the emotional burden-bearers at home. Not to throw the men folk under the bus, but really. I am sometimes amazed at the domestic and familial issues or circumstances men don’t notice, let alone lose sleep over. Simple things, like your teen isolating too much, or your daughter not eating lately, or your stepchild clearly desperate for attention. Just to even the scales, I admittedly have no idea when our home heating oil will run out, and our investment funds might as well be tied up in manure for all I know. I stand in appreciation of stereotypical man strengths, but we need to appreciate the intangible emotional burdens we bear. So we need to talk.
Some words of caution though. Be choosy about who you open up to. If your friend or therapist is not a believer, they might either condone or minimize the sin/situation, or apply false truths and negativity in their advice. Same goes for confiding in the opposite sex. There’s lots of better credentialed folks warning not to share intimate feelings with the opposite sex, other than a therapist.
If you’re struggling with anything- a crisis with your kids, a real issue in your marriage, an unhealthy attachment or addiction – seriously pray God brings a confidant into your life, or enables you to trust the Christian women already in your life. If you’ve never explored therapy, pray about it. I used to snub the idea of therapy (God is enough for me!) but then my kids hit the teen years. : )