It’s hard to be seen at your worst. Perhaps that’s why our deepest tears are often shed alone. We’re afraid friends will tire of our struggles, so we keep them to ourselves, especially the ugly ones that we can’t quite manage to put behind us.
I remember feeling this way after my spouse died. Not wanting to be a drag, I kept my grief to myself.
One day, a group of friends and me decided to see the movie, “Steal Magnolias.” I had no idea the impact this movie would have on me and my hidden emotions.
I was enjoying the movie until Shelby, played by Julia Roberts, is found unconscious on the floor by her husband Halloween night. I griped my seat tightly and felt a lump form in my throat when the next scene flashed across the screen. Sally Fields, who played Shelby’s mother, comes rushing down the hallway of the hospital. Shelby was in a diabetic coma.
I knew the kind of fear that was written across the actresses face. I’ve felt her anxiety because I had been there. I’ve been in a similar hallway that lead to an injured loved one. I also know what it feels like to get bad news. It feels like you’ve been kicked in the stomach and can barely breathe.
I held it together until the graveyard scene.
“It hurts! I’m so angry! I want to know, ‘why?” cried the mother. Suddenly, I could no longer hold back the flood of emotion and grief. I excused myself, got up, ran to my car. Falling across the back seat, I wept alone.
In despair I longed for the comfort of friends but feared they would tire of me if I opened up. I was wrong to think this way. True friends want to help. Day after day, my dear friends would ask me what I needed. Instead of sharing with them, I pretended to be stronger than I was. I pretended to be a steal magnolia.
Then one evening when the heartache was more than I could bear. I decided to let someone in. I called a friend in the middle of the night. To my surprise, she showed up at my door in her PJ’s with chocolate in hand.
I talked—all night. She listened. It was the best therapy in the world! We cried together and laughed together. I could feel my grief lift. From then on, I decided to be real and share my pain with those who cared about me. Before long, I was sharing my story at speaking events. It was hard at first, but over the years it’s been an avenue of healing.
I learned a great lesson from these two occasions. We’re not meant to grieve alone. Tears without an audience, without someone to hear and care, leave the wounds unhealed. When someone listens to our groaning’s and stays there, we feel something change inside us. Despair seems less necessary and hope begins to stir where before there was pain.
Do you need to share your hurt today? I’d love to pray for you. I also want you to know that you’re not alone. The bible says, “Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you.” God wants to heal your hurts. Sometimes He uses others.