404 Present Tense Struggles

Present Tense Struggles

Why is it so hard to share our junk when we’re in the middle of it?

This week I got real and shared something I’m currently dealing with. Not something I’ve already gotten through. It is something I’m dead smack in the middle of dealing with. And it was terrifying.

But you know what? After I got it out there, it didn’t seem so bad. By sharing it in the present tense, the fear began to dissipate. As soon as my struggles were validated and I received encouragement, it didn’t feel so ominous. And here’s what I’m learning about this.

Fear thrives in isolation.

Think about it. The secret you’ve held on to your whole life feeds off of your fear. It gets stronger when it has you alone with your thoughts. The longer you keep it inside, the more terrifying it becomes. The most deceptive part is that we believe we can protect ourselves and others by hiding it. Our fear magnifies issues to the point where we think if we share it, our lives will fall apart.

I play this video game called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. When you start the game, the first line says:

“All warfare is based on deception.”

That’s quite prophetic for a video game. You don’t overcome truth with lies. You overcome truth with half truths. The quickest way to ruin an economy is by flooding it with counterfeit bills.

Deception is what the enemy uses to keep us from sharing our present tense struggles and confined in fear. He doesn’t whisper blatant lies in our ears. He whispers half truths. “You should be ashamed of yourself. When people find out, they will reject you. No one will forgive you for what you’ve done. You don’t deserve a second chance.”

He takes the truth of what we’ve done and whispers shame and condemnation in our ears. Fear overtakes us and we hide it away inside of our hearts. We isolate ourselves from others and it forms an emotional cancer in our hearts that eats away at us.

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of hiding. I need help. I can’t do this on my own. I’m determined to share my present tense struggles because I know this will get me one step closer to a past tense fear.

I might not share them all in a public forum like a blog but I’m ready to share them to a small circle of people I trust. And honestly, I don’t recommend sharing all your present tense struggles publicly. That’s not what “transparency” is really about anyways.

Today, I have one exhortation. Look around to the people closest to you. Take a moment to push past the responses of “I’m fine.” Rather than asking, “How are you doing?”, ask specific questions. Ask them “What’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with right now?”

Sometimes all you can expect from a generic question is a generic response. When you ask a specific question, many times it’s enough to elicit a specific response.

Some of us just need permission to share present tense struggles. Sometimes it’s hard enough to admit things to ourselves. It’s so much harder to admit something to someone we feel isn’t truly concerned enough to ask a specific question or care about what we’re going through.

Sharing our present tense struggles causes us to be vulnerable and real in our relationships. It fosters a sense of intimacy, trust and holiness in our friendships. It’s where we go from shallow relationships, to the deep parts of who we really are.

Past tense stories will never strengthen present tense relationships. Let’s live in the now!

When is the last time you shared a present tense struggle?

Comments

  1. I am the kind of person that really internalizes things, so I don’t really speak about what’s going on within myself. When I do I have to be careful because I find that there may be someone who’s going through a lot worse, or don’t really know what to say.
    Ed recently posted..When Does Prayer Become Powerless? « simplyjuliana

    • Yeah I hear you but what I’m finding out is that most of the time I go ahead and assume that most people are going through worse and so I never share anything that I’m going through. I have a bad habit of making decisions for people on what they can handle…most of the time it ends up that they can’t handle my stuff. And I know that’s pride.

  2. Proud of you Tony! For recognizing Satans attempt to keep you isolated in your struggles, and for discussing/sharing what you are going through. I believe God never meant us to go through life alone without Him and other people. How easy it is to deny our need and to hide in fear! Good job.

  3. I’ve stopped sharing a lot of it because that seems to be all I have to share over the last few years. I’m tired of having struggle after struggle to share. I’m wanting to start sharing stories about how God’s moved to solve those struggles instead of how He’s still there in spite of things always going south.
    Jason recently posted..Desperate for God?

  4. Amandalea Noel says:

    “I’m determined to share my present tense struggles because I know this will get me one step closer to a past tense fear.” SO true and SO liberating!

  5. Tony,

    Again, this post speaks volumes and breathes life into this season of life I’m in. You speak so much truth and I know the Holy Spirit is speaking through you right now. Everything you touched on is everything I’m going through, went through, and am now breaking free from.

    We live in so much fear and have the perpetual condemnation cloud over our heads. It’s not only that, I can understand why you don’t want to openly share your struggles publicly. We live in a divided community. One side will accept you for who you are in spite of your struggles and the other side will tell you to open up, but no sooner you do, they are gossiping about you behind your back.

    I hope you have a close circle of friends in your life whom you can be authentic and transparent with. Your point about “transparency” and sharing it in a public forum, I can understand your feelings regarding it. I may think differently on that as from personal experience when I’ve been opened about my addiction to porn and the areas I struggled, I’ve gained more support than from people I know locally.

    This is how we create community. It’s not about airing our dirty laundry and exposing ourselves for the sake of attention, it’s about saying, “This is who I am. This is what I’m dealing with. Accept me. Love me.”

    It’s what Jesus does. Why can’t we?

    You’re in my thoughts, Tony.
    Julie (@InciteFaith) recently posted..Why Accountability Works

    • What I mean about sharing in public is not that it’s not good but that it’s not always really healthy. Some people are willing to share any and everything they are going through publicly but they aren’t willing to receive correction. And I don’t think a public forum is a place to receive or give correction.

      When we share in a safe place with people we trust, part of getting help is being willing to allow people to tell us the hard things we don’t necessarily want to hear. That just can’t happen effectively by letting loose on a blog.

      I hope that makes sense. Either way, thank you SO much for your encouragement Julie. You words mean a lot to me.

      • Tony,

        It does make better sense. Thank you for clarifying. I can see why there would be caution and hesitation in being open publicly.

        After thinking on this I realize that all of us have boundaries in what we are willing to share. I think it’s important to have a few people in our life who we can fully be open with.

        I think what concerns me is a lot of us hide behind our sins and struggles from the rest of the world by “acting” and pretending we have it all together. What I respect about what you’ve put here in the past few days is your admission that you *are* struggling and you need help.

        First step to recovery, right?

        We are all broken, Tony. I can’t name one spiritually mature Christian in their walk who isn’t. We all have our inner enemies. Maybe as a Man that hits where it hurts, because men are the ones that have to “hold it all together” but that’s pride and that argument is skewed. It’s okay to struggle and admit brokenness.

        Because it means you’re one step closer to survival.

        I will be praying that the Holy Spirit empowers you deeply to heal you and give you victory through this.
        Julie (@InciteFaith) recently posted..Why Accountability Works

  6. Seems like God is up to something in His people, eh? 😉

    I really like that you addressed how if someone senses that you don’t really care about the answer to the “how are you” question, they’re not going to feel like opening up.

    At work, it’s standard protocol to say to every customer, “Hi, how are you today?” it becomes a mindless thing and sometimes I even forget I asked and I’ll ask the same person twice because it’s so automatic!

    I think it’s important for us as Christians to intentionally ask specific questions with love behind it, otherwise how do we expect people to feel loved enough to be honest and ask for help?

    Great food for thought, thanks for posting! 🙂
    Hali Walsh recently posted.."Can you see me now? Gooooood."

    • I can’t tell you how many times I was going through something and wanted to talk about it but I felt like the person who asked didn’t REALLY want to know how I was. They just asked to be polite.

  7. This is why true community is so important. We need to be able to share our struggles in a place where we can receive the encouragement, support and, yes, even rebukes we need.
    Jason Vana recently posted..A Flawed Identity

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