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If They Only Knew…

If they only knew…

…The darkness felt at night.

…The pain from past memories.

…What it’s like to suffer from depression and anxiety.

…How hard it is to accept failing at a dream.

…What it’s like to suffer loss.

If they only knew, then…Well, what happens next? I guess they’d bleed just the same, right?

How often do we say this to ourselves when we suffer? Whether it’s failure, loss, insecurity, anxiety, or depression, the human spirit longs for empathy and concern from others, and rightly so. Yet, when other people fail to meet us in our needs, we often begin to wish they knew what we were going through, often to the point that we wouldn’t mind seeing them bleed, as well.

What to do? Wave a white flag of surrender and suffer alone? Beg for love? Feel sorry for ourselves? Further escape into isolation?

When I lived in Los Angeles, I became friends with a guy named Joe who had suffered from addiction and was leading a group at our church for recovering addicts. As we became friends, he learned of my struggles with anxiety and depression and he invited me to join the group for support…Off Skid Row. Here I was, a guy with anxiety and depression joining a motley crew of drug addicts, alcoholics, and sex addicts. Pretense and self-righteousness evaporated; conversations full of honesty and healing filled the circles of men broken by life. Those meetings taught me so much about being an honest, authentic human being, as well as how to recognize my own human frailty. Hope was found in the embrace of the lesser knowns…Most of all, I’ll never forget when Joe once looked at me and said, “Andrew, this too shall pass.”

This. Too. Shall. Pass.

The feelings of loneliness won’t last forever. The pain of failure will slowly evaporate as you step into the future. The dark days crying yourself to sleep aren’t the end of the story. The terrifying thoughts that haunt you have no right to determine your tomorrow. Scars may remain, but hope will always be waiting for you. The sun will rise again, no matter how dark the night.

Consider yourself in Alaska: mostly darkness with the promise of the sunrise…Eventually.

God often works in ways that we cannot understand in the moment. When I began meeting with a group of addicts in LA, I had no idea that they would be the ones who would understand my pain, the loneliness of suffering, and the desire for a better future. And yet, those men helped me to keep hoping, dreaming, and seeking after the good yet to be found in my messy life. A group of drug addicts and alcoholics met me right in the thick of my isolation…Not what I expected, but exactly what I needed.

God often takes us to our own personal skid row to rediscover hope in the most unlikely of places and the loving embrace of the lesser knowns.

Encouragement, a warm embrace, and a gentle word can be found. We often look to friends, family, and respected leaders to give us answers, when often God wants to surprise us with unexpected hope that we cannot manufacture ourselves.

If they only knew…What? What would that matter if God wants to use this fallen world and our broken journeys to draw us closer to Himself, closer to the brokenhearted, and closer to living an authentic life? What if we’re meant to be alone for a season in order to meet others who need us, as well?

As you go through life, you will suffer. As you suffer, there will be moments that you are terribly alone. As you are terribly alone, there will be an invitation…An invitation to truly know God. An invitation to meet others in their needs. An invitation to become more than you ever were before.

Oh man, how wild to imagine…

If we only knew…