Interior and exterior

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

                                                           

Matthew 11:28-30

 

I had worked with a lady by the name of “Sharon” a while back when I went from the operations area into the project world. I was overwhelmed and drinking from the fire hose; she was patient, soft spoken, and charming. She took the time to show me what she had been working on and helped me understand how it would integrate with what I was starting to work on.

 

I eventually became more comfortable in my role and went on to another organization; Sharon changed roles and our paths rarely crossed. I kind of lost track of her, except for very occasional updates from a mutual friend and co-worker. She seemed to be doing fine.

 

A couple of days ago one of my best friends with whom I work asked me if I had ever worked with Sharon. Her face was pained as she asked, and I told that her that I had, and anxiously asked her what was wrong and why she asked. She said that Sharon had committed suicide only days before, and showed me the GoFundMe campaign that Sharon’s daughter had set up. I was shocked by what I read. You see, Sharon had battled alcoholism for what seemed to be most of her adult life. A quote from her daughter’s GoFundMe write-up embodies the pain: “However, despite her often zealous and confident exterior, Mom harbored a sinister side that severely affected her and her family on a daily basis…The truth is beneath her charming wit and good humor laid a deeply troubled soul.” The write-up alludes to her suicide, its emphasis being more on telling the reality of her life so that others who may be struggling with the same thing can perhaps identify with what Sharon went through and take an opposite turn.

 

It is a sad story, one that is all too common in this day and age, and I am thankful for support groups and associations like the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), which is what the GoFundMe campaign is intended to be for. I am just blown away by the fact that this lovely lady battled the demons of addiction and pain, and harbored that secret for so long.

 

Now I trust that you realize that I’m not trying to stereotype people, and declare that it’s so unbelievable because she had a good job, nice house, and was educated. Alcoholism and addiction are far too common occurrences for me to believe that it doesn’t cut a swath across all socioeconomic levels. I guess I am just deeply saddened at the depth of her pain that she hid so well. I didn’t know.

 

We all put on some semblance of an act as we walk on this earth—some of it by choice, some by necessity, some for the sheer fun of it, and others because that’s how they are wired. We all long for a place that is ours in this world—a place of acceptance or love—and when it eludes us, we change ourselves to conform to society’s norms. We project a false self that over time can become so real that we sometimes don’t even realize that we are acting. And the whisper of the enemy as he begins his lies becomes a dull roar by which he manipulates and separates us from each other, but more importantly, from our Lord. We look fine on the outside, but are dying on the inside.

 

Friend, if you can relate to this, please know that you are loved, that you are cherished, and that you do not have to carry your burdens alone. As MercyMe sings in “Dear Younger Me”, “…It’s not your fault/You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.” You are the beloved child of the One True King. Allow Lord Jesus to come into your heart, and you’ll see that you really have never been alone, and never will be. You’ll see that you are not defined by your past hurts and sin, nor shame and regret. His love will redeem you, and you will be a different person. Allow Him into your heart, and He will enable you to look at all that you’ve gone through, all of the pain and sorrow, and understand that you can use your experiences to help others, and through that, be healed. He will help you with forgiveness.

 

Know that life with Jesus doesn’t mean that there won’t be bumpy roads or pain or suffering. It won’t always be easy—in fact, you wouldn’t want it to be. But I promise you that you will have the presence of the Holy Spirit in you, guiding and protecting you, and enveloping you in His love.
 

 

Prayer Requests

  • For those who are under attack from the enemy
  • For our government, at all levels, and for unity in this country
  • For those who have suffered in the recent terror attacks
  • For those struggling with pain and addiction
  • For us to know His will for His church

 

I have been somewhat preoccupied with Sharon’s death since I found out about it last week. It has helped give me perspective (upcoming devotional!). It has also moved something in my soul to watch people more closely, to try to be more aware, and to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me people who need an ear, a shoulder, a smile, or the love of Jesus.

 

 

Quotes

 

“Prayer isn’t to remind God what your problems are. It is to remind your problems who God is.”

 

“Repentance doesn’t entice God to reject you. It invites Him to forgive you and cleanse you from sin.”