DON’T BURY YOUR EMOTIONS.

Part of my journey to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ has been learning to tell Him the whole truth, each and every day. I long for you to join me in this practice. Not only does it lighten the load we carry, but also it becomes a minute-by-minute understanding of the beautiful companionship we are invited to share with Christ.

Telling Him the whole truth is the antidote to loneliness.

For years I’ve kept a journal beside my Bible so that I may write down anything that I feel the Holy Spirit is saying about the text that day. Recently I looked at things I’d written in the past, and it was eye-opening. I was as truthful as I knew how to be when I wrote those words, but I question some of those insights now. Being raised in an extremely conservative church since I was a child, my knee-jerk response to most of life was to say the right thing, whether or not it felt true at the moment.

In one entry from my thirties, I wrote, “Even if I find myself in a very dark place I know that God is with me.” But I know now that when I found myself in a very dark place back then, I wasn’t sure where God was. It’s only when I am able to be honest with God — telling Him that I’m not sure He was with me as I stood on the edge of the bridge or sat with a bottle of pills in my hand — that I am able to receive the beautiful news that He was right there, with me, all along. He never left my side. The worse I reveal about myself, the greater the revelation of His presence.

My doubts and questions didn’t push Him away; instead, He drew closer. So close, in fact, that I finally began to understand that He is my Safe Place who has been there all along. Even when I felt desperate and alone, He was with me.

When I thought the darkness would swallow me whole, He was there. No matter how deep the waters, how blinding the pain, how silent the grave, no matter what, God was there.

And He wasn’t there in a metaphorical sense. He was as close to me as my next breath.

David knew this same truth. He welcomed it into his darkest moments. He had committed adultery and arranged the death of one of his most faithful men. David’s intentional sins wounded many. Even though he was one who failed miserably, it comforted him to know that the only One who knew everything about him was God. In Psalm 139, he wrote it this way:

O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.

You go before me and follow me.You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

I can never escape from your Spirit!I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to Heaven, You are there;if I go down to the grave, You are there.

If I ride the wings of the morning,if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me,

and Your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me

and the light around me to become night —

but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day.

Darkness and light are the same to You.

— Psalm 139: 1-12

David knew that no matter what he did, he couldn’t shake the presence of God. And that knowledge filled him with praise.

What I believe about God has changed over time. I used to believe that God was disappointed in me if I failed or gave into despair. Equally wrong, I believed at times that God approved of me because of good choices I made. But none of that is true. The truth is simple, if not difficult to believe:

When God looks at me, He sees the finished work of Jesus.

He sees me as pure, washed, clean, white — a beautiful, well-loved girl. He sees you that way too. Is that hard to believe about yourself?

Being as honest as you can be, pause for a moment here and ask yourself: “What comes into my mind when I think about God?”

Do you think He’s good?

Do you think He’s for you?

Do you think He’s proud of you?

Do you think He cares about you personally?

Do you think He loves you as much on your worst days as He does when you’re in a good place?

Do you think He hears and answers your prayers?

How we answer these questions will determine whether we trust Him with our confession, and whether we will make Him our Safe Place. It will determine whether we’ll still worship Him when nothing in our life makes sense, when it seems that the very God who loves us is silent.

Even Christ had to face the silence of God, had to make the decision to tell the whole truth. In an article published by Christianity Today, Ziya Meral wrote: “The greatest glory Jesus brought to God was not when He walked on the water or prayed for long hours, but when He cried in agony in the garden of Gethsemane and still continued to follow God’s will, even though it meant isolation, darkness, and the silence of God.”1

Crucifixion was the most despicable way to die in the Roman world. It was barbaric, shameful, and excruciatingly painful. When a condemned criminal was on his way to be crucified, he was made to carry the crossbeam himself. It was clear to everyone watching that this was a one-way ticket. He would not be returning. Yet Christ set His face toward the cross.

Still, do you remember what Jesus told His friends in the Garden of Gethsemane? Do you remember how He prayed?

He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.’ — Matthew 26:38-39

Jesus didn’t pretend that He gladly embraced the agony of crucifixion. He didn’t spin some syrupy theological truth about the glory of suffering. Instead, He told the truth — first to His friends, then in the stillness of His Father’s presence. He was deeply troubled, distressed, anxious, and devastated, and that’s how He prayed. If Jesus didn’t think that being honest showed a lack of faith, why should we?

The good news of salvation is that you get to be honest; you don’t have to bury your emotions.

Christianity is not a place to hide; it’s a place to come into the fullness of light. It’s a place to come into the daily safety of Christ’s presence.

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