Why do we hide? I hide my problems from my host family because it's easier to just crack a joke. I hide from friends because that requires being vulnerable. I hide my hurt, my sadness, and the cries of my heart. I hide my sin because I am ashamed. I hide failure and disappointment with sarcasm. I talk about situations matter-of-factly, without ever having to dive deeper than a baby pool into how I feel about them. I can change any conversation around so that we end up talking about you, or the weather, or a joke, or some abstract question that gets people thinking about anything else besides who I really am, or how things affect me. I love to listen to other people talk about their highs and lows. I genuinely love to learn how other people think, how they process, how things affect them, what they're learning, and how I can encourage them. But when it comes to me, I'd rather hide in the shadows. Let you know the fun Lauren without the vulnerable one. I hide the truth because it's shameful at times. I even find myself hiding behind the right answer- talking to someone about something that's happening but skipping right into, "But God's doing amazing things. He's really working, and I know he's using this." I don't even give myself the opportunity to acknowledge that this is hard. That this hurts. That sometimes I question all of that, and that it leaves me restless.
Fellows has been a process of changing that for me. It has caused me to step out of the shadows. To admit when I'm not okay. To cause me to call up someone when I know I need encouragement, and not just when I know that they do. Leaning on community has been something that I have always struggled with. Maybe it's because I like to fix things, and when I can't, I don't want you to know about it. I don't want to be that person that just throws up their life on you without warning. No one wants to be that person. But if I've learned one thing in the past few years, it's that it's okay to not be okay.
This past week, I found myself saying, "I just feel tired. Not still recovering from the trip to Nicaragua tired. But weary. Like my heart hurts." It took a lot for me to say that. To not hide behind the smile that so easily gets me out of the "how have you really been" conversations. But how true it was. My heart was overwhelmed with future decisions, with family decisions, with how God is stirring in my heart towards what he has next for me, and overwhelmed with the energy that it takes to be fully in the right now when a lot of changes are happening around me and those I love. Changes for the better, but changes just the same. And overwhelmed with the anxiousness that starts to creep in when one-by-one, other Fellows have their next year planned out and I'm still just trying to survive today. I wanted to run and hide from it all. I was tired. I was weak. The thought of one more cloudy day, or one more thing that I couldn't seem to do right left me feeling helpless. And then I heard Him. "Lauren Elisabeth you are mine. And I love you. Rest." He calls me to rest in Him. To rest in the truth that He goes behind and before. That He comes to me and continuously pulls me out of the shadows and into His arms, reassuring me that He is the Healer. That I don't have to hide my struggle behind expected laughter, but because He holds me, I am freed up to genuinely laugh and to have that joy. That particular day He used His people. Those people that He has so graciously placed in my life that I can learn from and be encouraged by. Those loving people that let me walk in with what seems like 2 checked bags and a carry-on full of my own questions, doubts, restlessness, and heartache and help me begin to unpack and sort through it. I need those people. I need to be those people. Those people that encourage me not to hide because of shame or doubt, but point me to Him in whom "there is no darkness at all."
"The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5