“No one else here has a clue what it’s like to be me.”
“All their sons are well-behaved. We’re the only ones whose kids don’t behave during family devotionals.”
And then this:
“No other parents of teens need to have these conversations. Our kids are a pain at times, but I’m the real problem. I’m a terrible dad.”
Our family just got home from another great week at Pine Cove Woods Family Camp. We had a blast and made some incredible memories together, but I still muttered each of these above quotes on Tuesday morning.
Even though they’re powerful and spiritually bonding, one of my least favorite aspects of camp is the family devo. We go through a devotional together as a family for about 20 minutes each day. This year we studied Psalm 23. The devotional was well-written and helpful in my own faith and led to some good discussions with friends and family. But sitting down every day with my wife and four boys and leading them is on par with visits to the dentist. Even though I’m in full-time vocational ministry and have a great wife and kids, devos are still tough for me to lead.
We Were Doing So Well
Monday started well… and then came Tuesday morning.
One of my kids got frustrated because he felt like he talked too much and didn’t want to answer any more questions. Another one slouched on the couch and looked like he was ready to fall asleep. A third one was frustrated because I got frustrated, which only further fueled my frustration. I don’t even remember what the fourth one did, but I’m sure I didn’t like it!
After we finished the morning devo, our family headed out in different directions for the day’s activities. Kristen stuck around and the two of us talked through the debacle of the morning. It was in our conversation that I shared all my foolish quotes above. Thankfully she calmed me down, but I still felt like a total failure. I tracked down my twins and apologized to them (see Matthew 5:23-24) before I headed to the adult teaching time.
When our speaker kicked off his teaching on Tuesday morning, he started off by talking about how much of a mess his family devo time is every morning. It was almost like he had a video of the Kedersha family time that morning! He described in detail his frustration with his kids and himself.
Immediately I felt better. I wasn’t alone. Someone else struggled, and his family devo time might have been even worse than ours!
As he described his time, it was like he took a flashlight and shined it into all I was hiding inside. He brought my pity and shame into the light and exposed my insecurities. It was exactly what I needed. As I sat there listening to him authentically and honestly describe their devo time, I experienced freedom.
Something happens when we’re honest with others.
One of our core values at Watermark Community Church is that we, as Christ followers, would be authentic in our walk. “Authenticity, integrity, openness, and sincerity will define us.” In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul writes, “The goal of our instruction is love, from a good conscience, a pure heart, and a sincere faith.” We love and lead others well when we live out our faith with sincerity. I’m so grateful to be a part of a community and under leadership who leads by example and calls us to be authentic as we follow Jesus.
We think we’re alone and we’re terminally unique. No one could have any clue what we’re going through and what it’s like.
So what is it for you?
- Marriage issues?
- Parenting challenges?
- A prodigal child?
- A struggle that won’t seem to go away?
You feel alone and you might feel like a failure. But, you’re not.
A couple of thoughts for when you feel alone and don’t want to let others in:
- You’re not alone. Jesus knows whatever you’re going through and He loves you wherever you are and whatever you’re experiencing. Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The Lord is with you and wants to comfort you.
- Fight your fears. In her book, If You Only Knew, Jamie Ivey writes, “I lived in a constant fear of ‘if they only knew.’ Because if others knew everything about me… I was sure they wouldn’t like it.” In reality, when we share, we open ourselves up for healing from the Lord and help from others. We tear down walls and give people permission to be real and honest. If you’re interested in hearing more about Jamie’s book (which I highly recommend), you can read my review here.
- Go first and don’t wait for others. So often we know we need to open up to others but we want someone else to go first. Take some initiative and lead yourself and others well.
- Confess to others. A few scriptures help here.
- James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
- Proverbs 28:13 says, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
- Whether you’re confessing a sin struggle, an insecurity, or a fear, the path to growth always starts with confessing to the Lord and to others. Keeping it bottled up never helps.
As I listened to our speaker at camp share his struggles, I thanked God for others who give me permission to be honest because they went first. The goal is not authenticity. The challenge is not to see who can be the most authentic. Rather, authenticity paves the road to becoming more like Christ.
Along the way, you realize you’re not alone, and being open with others allows you to experience growth and community.
- Take inventory. Is there something you don’t want to share with others because of fears of what they’re going to think about you?
- Who can you share with? Who are the people in your life you feel safe in sharing a struggle or area of insecurity?
This post originally appeared on ScottKedersha.com and was republished with permission.
Scott Kedersha is the director of premarital and newly married ministries at Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX. He’s a loyal husband and father to four boys.