The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
– Psalm 34:15-22
My friend had been through a difficult divorce after a marriage of significant emotional neglect. For more than a year after the divorce, she took two of her children to a therapist, who was impressed—the children were adjusting quite well. My friend was so proud of her little ones, and proud of herself for being the stable adult helping them weather the storm.
Earlier, after the first few months of staring down her demons in the waiting room while her children used play therapy to explore their own, my friend was asked by the therapist to come into her office. Once they sat down, the therapist asked, “How are you doing?” My friend just looked at her. In the months since her marriage ended, not one person had asked her that question. She was the rock. She hadn’t shared her true feelings with anyone. No one had even asked.
Even though my friend wanted to appear strong, she decided to be real. Fighting back tears, she explained to the therapist that the week had been rough. On one afternoon, she broke down in tears in front of the children after a long day of work—staring at a messy house, a pile of bills, and frustrating homework assignments. “I feel horrible that they saw me like that.” The therapist faced my friend, gently held her shoulders, and said, “Look at me. It’s okay to be human in front of your children. They need to see that you aren’t perfect—that you’re not a robot. Everyone needs to see the authentic you, the broken you. No one can love a stone.”
You see, for her entire life my friend had been taught that it was not okay to show her frailties. From her strict parents to her insecure husband, she was bound and gagged. So she lived a life where she guarded her heart and never let anyone see the cracks. That was, until she was finally given permission—first by a caring therapist and then by Jesus.
She has since soaked in the beautiful freedom of the gospel. Today, she is the first to admit that she is a mess. For the first time in her life, she says she’s free to let her cracks show because she knows that a perfect offering was made on her behalf, setting her free from the need to be perfect all the time. She has discovered what Aladdin’s genie (voiced by Robin Williams) longed for: “To be free. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in the world.”
Jesus came to liberate us from the pressure of having to fix ourselves and fix others.
– Tullian Tchividjian