"What are you talking about?" I walked over, gulping my bite of banana. "All food has dots. Dots are normal. Just eat it."
By afternoon, my four year old son has splattered Legos and thrown books on their backs to construct a pain-inducing, slippery land mine. That's when I plop on the floor and wave the white flag. Snack time.
Instead of eating, I meet resistance.
Every day, TJ and I have the same conversation. Marks, black-stuff, something-yucky, I-don't-want-to-eat-that. TJ whips out his invisible super-microscope to whatever I put in front of him and can always find something wrong with it.
My explanations for food blemishes ring hollow to my little spiky-haired boy. Until one day, God has mercy on me. I come up with the answer.
"TJ, let me tell you something. Everything that is real has dots. If you find something that looks perfect, it's fake."
"Like pretend food, right?… They're plastic!" TJ concluded.
Safety In Hiding
I never thought there could be anything wrong with always being happy, nice and sunny. Whenever I encountered something hurtful, I'd brush myself off and kept pushing forward. I thought that trusting God meant being positive and never voicing my negative feelings.
As a result, I got really good at hiding my worries and struggles from everyone around me. Who wants to hear about troubles anyways? It was safer to be there for others, rather than revealing my feelings of fear, anger or despair.
I was just like TJ, resistant to the reality of dots.
Everything looked good on the outside. Inside, I was struggling with loneliness.
I probably could have gone on living this dual life indefinitely. Until God allowed a series of disappointments to enter and stay until they broke me. I could no longer hide.
It happened when I was single in my twenties. I came across a very difficult situation in my family. I had been praying for years for God to untangle deep-rooted problems that seemed to get worse, not better.
In my case, I was struggling with dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships with my single mother and younger sister. To make matters worse, I was overwhelmed with financial burdens, that resulted from the dysfunction.
Why wasn't He fixing anything?
The Whole Story
One night, as I was driving home feeling stressed and trapped in my predicament, everything inside me gave way. Heavy sheets of rain were pelting on my windshield, as I pulled over to the side of the road — and sobbed. Messy crying. With my head down against the steering wheel, I creaked out a prayer.
I'm so lonely.
Although I knew Jesus loved me, I needed a warm body to hear me.
The next day, I called a trusted confidante.
For the first time, I told my story. The whole story.
I showed her my dots, the blemishes. The yucky stuff.
Instead of shrinking away in disgust and shock as I fully expected, this friend opened her arms to me and listened. When I looked in her eyes, I only found care and understanding.
I became real.
From there, I found strength to heal and courage to face my problems squarely.
Tell Your Story
I don't know what you may be going through right now. If you happen to be like me, uncomfortable with dots — smudges, spots and stains in your life — I want to encourage you to be real with someone.
Pray about who that safe someone might be and take a dare.
Tell her your story. Let her feel your scars and see your marks.
Maybe you're like me, growing up as child, without someone safe to love you when you felt weak and accept you when things went wrong. It could be that you're wondering why God isn't fixing things and making it all better.
The good news is that God hasn't forgot about you or your problems.
He is focused on your heart and letting you know that you are loved. He wants you to be real.
God may want you to start with a real person, so that He can comfort you in the skin of another. That's how it had to happen for me.
He loves us deeply. Dots and all. Flesh and blood, He made us.
I still find it difficult to share my needs, but I push myself to keep trying. I am learning there is freedom in being loved, by God and the friends who truly know and accept me. That was one blessing I didn't expect, coming out of hiding.
After all, plastic people aren't real… TJ can tell you that.
How is God calling you to become more real?
We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face
to keep the Israelites from gazing at it
while the radiance was fading away.
But, whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."
2 Cor. 3:12-18
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