We've all been there…feeling the weight of our guilt or our shame as a result of sins we have fallen into, or feeling ashamed of ourselves for times we've been deceived with attacks from the enemy. We repent and ask Christ to forgive us and strengthen us, but as we battle these struggles on a daily basis, we realize we can't rough it alone. We need the accountability, encouragement, and support from friends and others living their lives to serve, and to love Jesus. However, many times we find ourselves bottling our struggles up and keeping them to ourselves.
How many times when someone asks us "Hey, how're you doing?" do we truly mean "good?" Why are we so afraid to open up and admit we're hurting and struggling to the people who genuinely care about how we're really doing?
Our reasons for hiding the tears with insincere smiles may differ, but I struggled with feeling I had to deal with my struggles alone. I felt undeserving of others going out of their way to support and help build me up. I felt that would be asking too much. That would be a selfish request.
My thoughts were, "I need to focus on loving others the way Jesus did. I want to support those around me, and be there for my friends and family when they need me. I want to love selflessly. How can that be accomplished when I selfishly ask for my needs to be met instead?"
I didn’t realize this was exactly what the enemy wanted me to think. There were times I felt my insecurities regarding my self image were destroying my confidence, literally leaving me feeling torn on the inside. I was unsure of who I was and lacked confidence in my abilities to use my gifts and talents to serve Christ.
My heart was distracted by the struggles inside and distracted by wanting a friend to lean on, but feeling I would be selfish and asking for too much if I were to ask for someone to support me and allow me to open up, admitting what was attacking me. I was hindered in my spiritual growth because I felt I had to pretend I was doing "good" one hundred percent of the time, when really I was stuck in a rut of insecurities I didn't know how to break.
I was forgetting something very essential. A best friend, who could tell I was hurting, brought something to my attention. His noticing and confronting me about hiding was God's way of telling me I needed to stop feeling ashamed, afraid, and selfish about admitting I was discouraged and in need of help.
Offering love, support, encouragement, and building up fellow members in the Body of Christ is a two way street. We're not only called to love God and others, but we’re also called to share in our walks with other believers instead of trying to grow spiritually, alone. Even Jesus didn't allow himself to be alone. The Son of God, in form of a man, surrounded himself with the company of his twelve disciples.
Jesus may have lived a sinless life, but he was still tempted. (Matthew 4:1-11) He was still very much human. If Jesus saw the importance of serving in ministry with His twelve disciples, rather than journeying through life alone, then we definitely should not serve in our spiritual journeys alone.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked or defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple braided cord is not easily broken."
Whenever we feel afraid, selfish, ashamed, or feel there's any excuse not to ask for support from fellow believers, we're falling into the enemy's trap. Having a Christ centered community is vital for our spiritual growth, and Satan will do whatever it takes to prevent us from receiving the benefits the Body of Christ provides. Struggling feeling alone is enough to tear us down with discouragement. God didn't create his people to be alone, nor did he create us to struggle alone. Absolutely nothing should ever stop us or make us feel undeserving of seeking help from the people God placed in our lives to walk with. No matter how deeply we feel we've sinned or how embarrassed we are because of attacks we face, the worst thing we could do is bottle up our struggles and attempt to fight through our battles alone.
[photo credit: Shannon Lee Miller]
Katelyn Bode is a 19 year old passionate about encouraging others in hopes to expose them to the love & hope Christ has to offer to all the heart break & injustices in the world. She enjoys drumming, serving as a camera operator for her church, & working on her "Beauty Exposed" Blog that can be found at katelynbodeblog.blogspot.com.