One night a dozen years ago, I went to my office to tally the day’s sales receipts. It had been a fairly dull day until I opened the storeroom door.
I was accosted by a loud, agitated, and fully masked gun-toting thief.
The police had prepared me for this possibility a few weeks before by distributing a flyer detailing what to do when you’re the victim of an armed robber. It all happened too quickly for me to muster any nervousness. It was clear he wanted what I had; I gave it to him so I could live another day.
This happened during the Christmas season. A few days later I was at a holiday party at church. When people would ask me how I was, I replied, “I’m good. I’m glad to be alive.”
During the course of those few days I found the pain that evaded me while that gun was sticking into my ribs. I guess the survival instinct makes one braver in the moment. But when you’re violated, the pain will surface at some point.
I was wearing a mask to get through my terror. Rather than stand naked emotionally in front of the very friends who could help me through it, I chose to lie and say, “I’m doing miraculously well.” Maybe words evaded me because they would be oral instead of written. The truth still remained. The only way to heal is to deal with the pain of the wound.
We all need some friends that know us as well as we know ourselves. A small handful is plenty. When we fly solo through the injuries life inflicts, we end up bitter, confused, and self-righteous.
Take note of this. Those trusted allies need not be “yes” men or women. They do need to be committed to telling us how things really are, lest we remain blind and stumble further into darkness. Our egos are not as important as our emotional, relational, and spiritual health.
If there is any place on Earth that this should be commonplace, it’s the church. That’s the unity Jesus came to bring. It’s the visible evidence that points to the redeeming love we all hope for in the deepest place in our hearts.
If you have some trusted, faithful friends, praise God for it. If you don’t, pray for God to bring just one. Then go, expecting that He will provide a person who will love you like He does.
Do that and you can burn that mask of unreality and false civility to ashes.