Outward Success, Inward Struggle

Right now I have a great opportunity to be vulnerable so I’m going to take it. Over the last few weeks, a lot of cool things have happened. Business has been taking off for Good Coffee, I’ve had some fun speaking engagements, opportunities for impact are happening all over the place. It’s awesome. But truth be told, it doesn’t feel awesome all the time.

I attended a type of networking breakfast recently. The keynote speaker asked the room an uncomfortable question and had everyone write their answer down anonymously on a piece of paper. “What is a current struggle of yours that people would be surprised to find out?” she asked. The room went silent. As the event facilitator read off a few of the pieces of paper, it was beautiful to see the power of openness, even anonymous openness. The atmosphere in this room full of powerful leaders shifted completely as we started to uncover the pain beneath the surface.

For me, lately I’ve been struggling with feeling down often. Strangely, in this season of life, I really don’t feel like doing much. For some people that might sound fairly normal, but I’m used to having a tremendous zest for life even amidst adversity. Almost every day for the last few months I’ve had to make a very conscious decision to get up and put one foot in front of the other, even when nothing in me is excited about engaging the day ahead. Every day I have to choose to take all of the pressure and weight I carry on my shoulders and give it back to Jesus because He’s the only one that can carry it. In fact, I need Him to carry me completely. Right now, if I’m honest, it feels like I’m going through the motions trying to do what’s right just because it’s the right thing to do:

“For there’s a proper time and procedure for every matter though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him.” ~ Ecclesiastes 8:6

The purpose of sharing this isn’t so that people feel badly for me and start sending me pre-cooked meals and flowers (although I will rarely turn down food), it’s to be vulnerable in hopes that others might have the courage to get honest. We need to be real. It’s sad how little we let people know of our struggles, even the people closest to us. We only show the angle of our lives that we want others to see. Social media is fertile soil for hiding your pain in plain sight. Here, it’s easier than ever to be lonely in a crowd. We post a bunch of happy pictures of us looking great at fun events, but people don’t see that you had to dry your tears just before getting ready for that event. Or that your marriage is struggling even though you post nice pictures together. Or that most days you have no idea how you’re going to get through the day. Or that you’re struggling with an addiction as a coping mechanism for your stress.

We’re meant to live this life within loving community. No one’s an island. Whatever you’re dealing with right now, it’s real and you don’t have to pretend that everything’s fine. I’m aiming this blog post specifically at people who feel like they have to be strong for the people around them. The people who look like they have it all together but don’t. The people to whom everyone goes for help, but who have no idea who to turn to when they’re hurting.

Yes, God is good all the time and it’s all going to work together for your good. But it’s ok to be honest and say that it doesn’t feel that way right now. Read some of the lamenting Psalms for some evidence that even a man after God’s own heart is allowed to verbalize extreme sorrow. God is big enough to handle your pain. Be honest with Him. Be honest with yourself. And be honest with the people around you who care. Would we all aim for inner success above all.

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