She and I hadn’t seen each other in more than a year. My dear friend Laurie and I live in different states, so our lunch dates are rare and all the more special to me. I sat across from her at a quiet restaurant and gave her the quick update on my life: “Work is fine; my husband is fine; the kids are doing great; life is busy but good,” and so on. Then I stopped. This was a very real friend who cared about more than just surface-level stuff. I could be honest with her.
“I don’t want to pretend with you,” I suddenly said. “My husband and I have had a rough few months. It’s been hard. It’s getting better, but we’ve gone through some of the hardest days in our ten-year marriage.”
She didn’t even blink, just nodded.
I’ll be honest with you; even typing those words to you now makes my heart race a little.
It’s not so easy, is it? Being real with people?
Going through difficult times is the opposite of fun. I’d choose fun any day of the week over moments of crying and hurt feelings. But here’s what I shared with my friend that day:
“Laurie, I would never choose to go through that difficult time again. But I think God met me in those moments; I think He’s using those moments. And I was so desperate for God’s presence in my life that even in the pain, I felt relief. Relief that I could see God working in me again. Relief that this time I didn’t doubt His involvement. Relief that when I needed Him, really needed Him, He was there. I’d reached a point where I wasn’t sure anymore.”
She shared a story with me that told me she understood exactly where I was coming from, and I felt this sense of gratitude. I’m not the only one desperate for God. I’m not the only one who has struggled with doubt. I’m not the only one who’s had difficult moments propel her into God’s arms.
I realized something after I opened up and told Laurie the truth of where I was at that moment in my life. The honesty felt good. In the midst of blogging and facebook and all the social media we send into cyberspace, our lives can look like a constant reel of highlights. We’re always smiling in the pictures we post. But those are just snapshots of lives filled with good days and bad days and moments of pure joy and moments of brokenness.
All of us experience joy. But all of us go through difficult seasons of life too.
My husband and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary this year. We’ve been a couple for more than 14 years. We’ve had a great marriage and have two wonderful children. So when we hit a difficult place in our marriage, I was shocked. I expected ups and downs in our marriage, but only itty-bitty downs, I guess. Not trenches.
Before we hit the trench, I’d known my relationship with God had cooled into a distant but cordial relationship. I also knew it wasn’t the best place for me, but I’d gotten used to it and hadn’t taken the initiative to change it. The predicament between my husband and me changed that. What a blessing to realize that God was right there, waiting to help us get back on track. I realized that I was desperately longing for God to pursue me. I needed Him. And He still wanted me.
It was a life-changing lesson to learn and it’s made all the difference in my marriage, my friendships, my role as a mother, and my heart as a believer.
By Brandy Bruce, A Little Bit of BrandyLeave a Comment
This is beautiful.
May I find strength to be vulnerable & honest. Thanks!
Kathy Deckard says
Thanks for being honest and vulnerable. I am thankful that God has led me to a Celebrate Recovery group where I can be honest. It is very freeing. I feel like a weight has been lifted.
Rachel Mullins says
Our church is going through a study called “The Cure” and it is all about what you just said: being real. Taking the mask off and accepting grace and trusting God rather than working hard to do good works to please God and putting on a mask to make it all look good. Very timely post, thank you.
Lori Harris says
Amen and amen. That’s all I’ve got, friend.
Thank you for sharing and being real…
Being real requires a courage that somedays it just feels too hard to muster. And it feels too scary to be real, other days. It is a gift to have friendships that allow us to throw that courage on and be real as we are able. There is too much Messy in life to pretend. I think the deepest friendships happen because of our willingness to be brave and be real. What an encouragement to do just that!
I think this is why it’s hard for people to have real, genuine friendships. It requires honesty and vulnerability, and it’s so, so hard to let our guard down and allow people inside our real and messy lives. Thank you for this! I needed to read this today!
I totally agree, Aimee. I think it’s hard to have real, genuine friendships because of the vulnerability and trust. And it’s such a blessing when you actually do find a friend you can be real with.
Thank you for all these beautiful comments! It’s nice to feel understood, isn’t it? That’s part of the risk of being real. Your encouragement is a blessing to me!
Thank you for showing us that we aren’t alone, and that marriage is a wonderful struggle for everyone! I had a similar situation in my marriage, and YES! god was there to pick me up, and I feel closer to God now than ever before in my life! I truly believe that God made a curve in the road, and lead me to him so that my marriage could get stronger. Thank you for this post, it’s good to know we’re not alone! <3
Beautiful. True. And yes, me too! I love especially what you said about how our lives can look like a highlights reel by what we put out there, and because everyone else is doing the same, when the brokenness of our lives overpowers the perceived blessings, we can feel like the only one out there who’s struggling.
Thanks for being real and encouraging the rest of us to do the same.
Holley Gerth says
Brandy, thanks for being real with your friend and with us too. We’re all paradoxes–messy and glorious, stumbling and standing tall, filled with faith and forever just figuring it out. I’m so glad we can be all of those together.
Julie Sunne says
It’s wonderful to see God meeting us in our brokenness, and bring beautiful out of desperate and ugly. Thanks for sharing so vulnerably, Brandy. May the Lord continue to work in your marriage to make it a closer reflection of His love for the church. Blessings.
sharon Bryan says
To Brandy,and all others who commented on her message:
I have struggled with doubt, but God has always picked me up. I have been told that it is in our brokenness that He does His greatest work in us. God has blessed me with the most wonderful friends anyone could want- they encourage me because of His Love. My husband of 34 years went home to the Lord not so very long ago, but although I miss him terribly I know that He is in the hands of God who sent His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place so that we might have eternal life. May the Lord bless you all in your marriages and your daily lives. Live for Him!
I would love to be real with friends and family about the difficulties I’m facing right now in my marriage, but they have all turned their backs on me for wanting to work on my marriage. My husband is in prison ~ one year and one day ~ and will be home in October. 2012 was a horrible year for us. I got a cancer diagnosis and made the decision to leave a job that was causing me so much stress, my fibromyalgia was making me almost unable to function. My husband got a job offer back “home” and so he left ahead of me to start work. By the time I got here the promised job had fallen through. The day I had my cancer surgery, our only car was repo’d, making it difficult to find work for either of us. He made a bad decision one night in a desperate attempt to take care of me, and was sentenced based on a lie. I was without a vehicle for six months, and didn’t find a part-time job for another two months. Because I continue to stand by him, and believe in him, friends and family have walked away from us. It has been so difficult for me trying to survive on what little I make, and feeling as if I am so alone. But we both have grown stronger in our faith, and our marriage has become stronger as well. God has provided for us again and again, and has never turned His back on us or forsaken us.
Oh Cindi. Praying the Lord walks you through this and that your marriage comes out even stronger!
Praying for you now. I have no answers even though being in my own messes (special needs child/cancer/depression/rough season of marriage). Hold on to that last line of your comment, “God has provided for us again and again, and has never turned His back on us or forsaken us.” I know sometimes that’s all we’re holding on to.
Beth Williams says
Praying for you and your family!
Precious Lord-Please swoop down & surround Cindi with your warm, loving arms. Shower her with love, grace & mercy. Show her how you are bringing her and hubby back to you!
Can I just say that you’re so very brave to open up and share? You are! And to share here – where words reach out to touch and help so many others? The seasons of life include both triumph and trial – in marriage, in motherhood, in friendship, and even in faith. But He is faithful and He is with us – even in (maybe especially in?) the trying times. Thank you for reminding me that even in this – He is there.
Mindy Rogers says
Agreed! Honesty among trusted friends is so refreshing!
Love the post! 🙂
Valerie Hohenberger says
Thank you for being brave enough to allow us into your messes! We all need encouragement to share the mess in our lives and I did just that a week or so ago and immediately felt SO RELIEVED! The people in the prayer chapel anointed me with oil and prayed for me. Most importantly, they all laid hands on me…I needed that human contact.
Blessings to you, as you bring blessings to others!
@Cindi, I’m lifting up you and your husband in prayer right now. Part of my prayer is that you will find a church that will welcome you both and support your marriage. I attend one that does, so I know they exist.
@Brandy, thank you for your willingness to be open, and may we have the courage to follow and the discretion to know when.
Beth Williams says
Wow! Thank you so much for being open and honest both with us and your friend. It is so important to have true friends with whom we can be totally open and honest. People in churches should be able to do this, but often that is not the case, unfortunately!
I pray all of you find a true friend that you can be open with. Someone who will listen without judgment & love you unconditionally!