The following post consistently held its position as one of my top five most popular posts ever since I originally published it. It was the first time I was this open and honest on my blog. Now presenting Conceal, Don’t Feel.
Originally published: 9/30/14
If you have ever heard the song from Frozen called “For the First Time in Forever” you might remember Elsa’s words in the moments before she is to be crowned Queen of Arendelle.
Don’t let them in
Don’t let them see
Be the good girl
You always have to be
Put on a show…
After I watched that movie for the first time, I honestly sang those words to myself over and over again – whenever something was wrong. I figured nobody wanted to hear my problems and I didn’t want to sound like I was complaining or end up boring people to death. But most of all, I didn’t want anyone to think I had any difficulties with life at all.
I recently went to a middle school retreat where the first Bible talk was exactly what I needed to hear. The theme that night was “Life as a Christian is hard.” The speaker first made this fact very clear, then went on to say that we often want our lives to look perfect to people outside of our immediate family or we want to make Christianity look appealing to nonbelievers and so we hide our problems. I realized this is me. Next, the pastor told us that it’s okay to admit we have problems and to talk about them with someone you trust. He repeated this note and assured us that it was in fact a good thing to do. That’s why God gave us friends. To share burdens – to be there for each other.
This hit me. Hard.
I had been hiding my problems for so long, trying to look good and be perfect to almost everyone I knew. It was wearing me down. I was on edge. I kept telling my sister that I had no one to talk to, when, really, I could have talked to her or plenty of other people. I was hiding it. Concealing. Not feeling. I made an actual effort to force my negative emotions down inside of me until they couldn’t show through any more to anyone outside my family.
Last November, my Grandpa died. It wasn’t easy on anyone. He died only a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, without any of us knowing whether or not he was a Christian. For months, I cried and scolded myself for this. I had had the perfect opportunity to testify for Jesus a few months before he died. And I hadn’t. I didn’t do it because I was scared. I didn’t want to be laughed at. I wanted to look perfect in a human’s eyes. So I continued to lose sleep over this until August. November to August I worried and prayed for him to be in heaven, but I was never sure he was. I never had any peace about it.
But at camp, in August, there was someone to talk to. I told her everything, tears pouring from my eyes. I hadn’t spoken about my Grandpa’s death to anyone since November. I had tried to avoid the subject entirely and got upset with my siblings when they talked about it. But, now, I was able to dump it all out. I drained those tears. I felt so much better. The lady I talked to pointed me to John 3:16, which may seem like a familiar verse and not really comforting, but it was.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Next, she told me to replace some of the words with my own name. Now it read:
For God so loved Kira that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Kira believes in Him she should not perish but have everlasting life.
That changed it a lot for me. It gave this often used verse a new meaning and it comforted me. Why? Because if God loved me enough to send His only Son to die for me, then He must have loved my Grandpa enough to die for him, too. And while I don’t know where my Grandpa is right now, I know that God gave him a choice too. God used who He wanted to use in my Grandpa’s life. And even if I didn’t outright say it, I hope that I lived for Jesus enough to make a difference for my Grandpa. I hope that he saw Christ through my actions – even if I wasn’t always perfect.
All that to say, after I talked about my Grandpa’s death for the first time in almost nine months, I felt much better. It was so much easier after I told someone what I was feeling. Now I feel much more at peace about it. It was doing me no good to try to “Conceal, Don’t feel.” It was only hurting me.
Now that I know that, hopefully it won’t be so hard to show people that I live a broken life in a broken world, just like everybody else. Hopefully it won’t be so hard to admit that I’m a sinner and that things hurt. It’s not easy to be a Christian. But sharing makes it easier.