It began as a dream, which stirred within me a word for one, then evolved into a message for many.
In the dream, I sat next to a young woman. "Tell me about yourself," I asked.
"I don't share," she said blankly.
I knew, immediately, it wasn't because she was shy or reserved or selective in who she spoke to. No, her answer was from a place of pain. A secret. A wound. Or perhaps, a problem too deeply buried to reveal to anyone, let alone a stranger.
As I began to wake up, there was a message in my heart for the young woman. I knew, without a doubt, God wanted me to tell her that His desire and His plan was for her to be free!
Then by the time I rolled out of bed, the message had grown to one about how much God longed for each of His children to be freed from painful problems or a hurtful past or hidden secrets that held them back from all He intended and created them to be!
For weeks, I wondered what to do with this message. Until today, where I was invited to share it with a precious group of moms. (The place in my dream). And now, here, with you.
Now please understand, we don't just blab every little issue with anyone and everyone! However, when we prayerfully and carefully share our deepest struggles with others who are wise and trustworthy, we can experience the wondrous promise of Jesus freedom unfolding in our own lives, as well as in the lives of others!
1) A Struggle shared sets us free from shame and isolation
Recently, a dear one shared how, in the shame and isolation of family drama, after seeing the popular movie Bad Moms, she invited two moms from her kids sport team for a moms night out. That evening, as she risked sharing her pain and loneliness, the other moms (who appeared to "have it all together,") opened up and shared their family problems as well. Together they found community and friends to share the weight of the burdens they carried.
2) A Struggle shared sets us free from single vision
A few years ago, a friend shared how her marriage was in trouble and she was thinking about divorce. She had "tunnel vision" and could only see one way out of her pain. As I listened to her story, I remembered a helpful lesson I learned from a marriage counselor. She told me that I tend to jump from A to Z, from my problem straight to the worst case scenario. (Yes, I do that)! The counselor suggested I look at the B - C - D - E...or, in other words, to consider steps and options before leaping to Z.
I explained this A to Z concept to my friend, and asked her to consider other steps before divorce. To contend for her marriage. To pray for her husband. And, to seek out a marriage counselor. I encouraged her to go for her own sake, even if he was unwilling to go with her, at first.
I understand it does not always go this way, but I was overjoyed to learn that shortly after our talk, my friend and her husband attended a marriage conference, and God has begun to do a wonderful, healing work in their marriage.
3) A Struggle shared sets us free from secret scars
Many times, I have sat with a friend at a coffee shop or on a park bench listening to the words, "I've never told anyone this." I have seen, over and over, that the secret they carry is often like a "disease" eating them up inside.
One of these precious friends pulled me aside at a retreat. She shared how God put it on her heart that if she would tell someone her secret, then He would begin to heal her and also use her to help others. And, God did! Once she confessed her painful secret, the Lord began to heal her hidden wounds and was able to use her to help many others.
4) A Struggle shared sets us free from strongholds past
There are times we have internal struggles we don't even know how to express. These are often habits and life patterns that have been passed down to us through generations. When we find safe community where we can share these struggles, we will learn from the wisdom and godly perspective of others what are "normal" behaviors and habits verses tendencies that will need, at the very least, the renewing of our minds, if not also the extra help of a counselor or doctor.
It started as a dream, but grew into a message that I want everyone to hear. Jesus came to set us free to be all He created us to be! He is more than able to do it without the help of another living soul. And, on occasion, I have experienced this miraculous gift of freedom in areas of my life. Still, more often than not, I have watched Jesus set His children free as we share our struggles with one another.
For further study: Isaiah 52:1-3; Isaiah 61:6; Luke 4:18; John 8:31-32; 36 Romans 8:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1, 13-14, 1 Peter 2:16-17; Galatians 6:2; I Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13