“Hey, how’re you doing?” I asked a friend after church one day, anticipating her usual enthusiastic, “Just great!”
Not that day. A big circumstance had her battling. She explained – for some time. As her story lengthened, I chafed. Someone stood near, trying to catch my eye. She seemed not to notice. That perturbed me.
When an inner nudge reminded me of the times I’ve also needed a friend to spill my heart to, I focused on listening. But I suspect she sensed my impatience, and I doubt our conversation encouraged her. No gold stars for you today, Christian-little, I thought. Lord, forgive.
I’ve played both roles in that scene. You may have too. Maybe that’s one reason why most of us are so reluctant to share our battles with other believers. We think they may not care, have no time, or would judge us for our weakness – and that happens. Rather than risk rejection, we paste on a smile and soldier on, keeping fellow believers at a distance, rather than reveal our brokenness.
In the mid-eighties, Christian singer/songwriter Twyla Paris wrote a song she felt would never see an album. In contrast to the candy floss type lyrics of that decade’s most popular Christian music, it seemed depressing. She worried her audiences wouldn’t relate, or, worse, would find the words offensive. Her producer convinced her otherwise, and she eventually released it.
The song soared to the top of Christian music charts as millions of listeners resonated with the powerful message of the lyrics. They still do. Perhaps you know the song. Maybe you’ve even sung or hummed it. I know I have. Paris titled it ‘The Warrior is a Child.’ It begins…
“Lately I’ve been winning battles left and right, but even winners can get wounded in the fight. People say that I’m amazing, strong beyond my years. But they don’t see inside of me, I’m hiding all the tears…”
The song continues, expressing the feelings that all Christ-followers know well. God’s armour is the best, it says, but admits that even brave soldiers need a quiet spot to rest. And it speaks of something most of us facing life’s difficult situations don’t often admit – especially to those who join us in the pews. That sometimes we fall down. That sometimes we want nothing more than to run home, where someone strong and loving will pick us up. To flee to where we can drop our battle-dulled swords and sense an approving smile. A place we can freely admit that underneath the armour (the one we pretend is impenetrable) stands not a battle-hardened soldier, but an often weary and hurting child.
Our Heavenly Father is that home. That smile. But the only hands, ears and arms he has are those who love and follow him. His people, whether we meet at a building, around a kitchen table or in a restaurant booth.
Lord, remind us.