Here’s another one from the vault. Last week’s post was from 2015– this one goes back a snidge further to 2014.
I’ve debated on reopening these posts and actually finishing them. There’s a reason I never hit publish. Shame (& fear) has often stopped me in my tracks. I’ve worried I’d “offend” people. Afraid of being misheard or misunderstood.
Turns out that I’m finding freedom in realizing no matter what I do or say someone will always be upset. So, I’m going to share the stuff I feel like God has placed on my heart and hope it encourages the people it’s meant to.
A few weeks ago (in 2014) at church, a lady came up to me and said: “It’s so nice to see you smiling again. It’s good to have you back.”
I didn’t know I had been “gone”.
If you’ve spent any time with me in person, you’d know that my face is pretty readable. When I’m sad, you can tell. When I’m pissed off, you can tell. When I’m giddy with excitement, you can tell. If I need a cup of coffee….you get it.
There’s no doubt, that my “struggling” had been visible to people. I knew I hadn’t been smiling very much, but I’m not the type to smile if I’m not happy. Maybe you think its appropriate to be fake in certain settings, but I don’t. See it as a flaw or a virtue, I am who I am.
So, when I stared at her first in shock and then in frustration, I’m pretty sure she could sense that I wasn’t taking her comment as encouragement even though I’m assuming that was her intention.
Instead of encouragement I was met with shame. Holly, why can’t you just get your crap together? Why do you always seem to be struggling? You’re a Christian, what kind of testimony is it to be such a mess? That’s a brief and highly edited synopsis of my internal thought life after the woman walked away.
I was hurt. It hurt. And it’s ok to admit that. It doesn’t make me emotional or immature or ungodly. IT MAKES ME HUMAN.
I’ve sat in meetings where people have told me they couldn’t understand how I could look so miserable. What kind of leader was I? Just more examples of what NOT to say to someone who is hurting.
It never seemed to cross their minds to simply ask, “Hey Holly. It looks like you’re hurting. I see you. I care about you.”
I’ve said the wrong things, too. Actually, just this week (back in 2020 now) I probably (read: absolutely) said some things to my best friend I shouldn’t have. I was trying my best to encourage with endless Bible verses when all she really needed to hear was “I love you. I’m sorry this sucks so bad. Let’s eat ice cream.”
Is it bad to share Bible verses or worship songs that have lifted you up in hopes it’ll be a drink for their weary soul? No. Not at all. Most of the time though they just want to know you care.
Just shut up and care, Holly.