I’m just your average girl: I worry that you will judge me. After all, I have a tendency to judge others too. So it’s often hard for me to be open and honest. Withholding information becomes an act of self-defense. There’s an attitude of: You don’t need to know that I have struggles. You certainly don’t need to know I have a tendency to wallow in self-pity, often overwhelmed by emotions. It’s easier to keep these a secret. I like to be in control of what people know about me, make sure I won’t be judged.
God told me otherwise.
He said, “Ansy, you need to be more transparent.”
“But why should I be?” I whined.
“How else are people going to know you, let alone support you or accept help from you? You complain about being lonely. Sometimes you wonder if people are just being fake. So why don’t you be the first to take the risk? Be transparent.”
One day I finally plucked up the courage to try. And immediately I noticed something. There were so many people around me who actually understood. Not only that, there were many with similar issues. They became people I could seek accountability from, pray with, and even find encouragement with seeing how they’d moved beyond where I was. Suddenly there was a community around me that understood. I had never experienced this before. It became the start of something amazing: being understood, accepted and loved despite my flaws. Unconditionally.
But then I forgot to be transparent again. Life goes on, and it’s easy to slip back into the old ways of pity parties of one. So once again I had to deal with letting go of that protective shield. It isn’t simply a matter of just sharing with one person. It’s an attitude of humbly being honest with certain people who could help or had responsibility for me. God ushered person after person into my life for me to bring it up with until finally… my mentor was next on the list. This started an internal debate.
I wanted to be completely open about my struggles. I knew that afterwards I would feel much freer. It would no longer have such a hold over my life, heavy and festering in the dark. There is power in such secrecy. On the other hand, I worried that it might be awkward. It’s shameful, what would people think? I’d feel judged and insecure; this is what I’m really like and it’s ugly!
In the end, I opened up and shared my struggles. And it all turned out positively. I can rejoice in my sufferings, knowing that it produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And I know that hope does not disappoint because God has poured out His love through the Holy Spirit to me. How amazing is that?
This past Sunday we were asked, “Is there anything that you need to let go of?” It might not be a shameful secret, but a habit, a possession, or even a person. We are now well into the autumn season, when trees shed the leaves they no longer need. Instead, all the energy returns back to the roots in preparation for the winter. Likewise, is there anything you still hang on to when it’s simply wasting your energy?
Every day I am reminded to be more honest about myself, to not keep things hidden. I live in the light; I belong in the light. And so should everything I do, say or think. I need to stop worrying about what other people think and let God be in control. I need to let go of this leaf.
What about you? What things do you need to let go of?
(Story shared by Ansy, edited by Rebecca Hung)
These were some thoughts from the series on Changing Seasons. The message on Turning Over A New Leaf can be found on the Sunday messages page.