For years I lived a double life. Not a 007 kind of double life, (although sometimes I think that would be fun!) but a life full of lies and hidden hurts. For many years I was trapped in an abusive relationship and didn’t want anyone to know about it so I pretended everything was fine. I pretended to have it all together and I pretended to be happy.
Everyone seemed to buy it too. It seemed I had most of the world fooled, and when I came across someone who didn’t buy in to my story I found a way to distance myself from them, so they couldn’t look closer.
I was a master at hiding my hurts. I still am. I am no longer living in an abusive marriage, in fact more than a decade ago I got out and started rebuilding my life and turning my world into something I could be proud of. It took work, a good number of backward slides and more tears and sleepless nights than I can count. But I came out the other side.
For the most part.
I still carry habits from my old life. Things are not the same, but my need to appear okay and strong is still there and it continues to interfere with my world. I am in a very good relationship – sure we have our ups and downs and the normal unintentional hurts that come with two broken people coming together. But I struggle because I still want to appear strong and without hurt. And the struggle continues because he doesn’t seem to notice when he hurts me. I want him to see how his words and actions hurt me. I wonder how he doesn’t see.
Acts 16 talks of Paul as he passed through Macedonia and stopped to see Lydia and her friends, and while there Paul took the time to actually see Lydia.
Lydia was a successful business woman. Something that was not terribly common in that day. She had her own business selling purple cloth and was well off financially. But Lydia was not happy. She was searching for love and a place to belong. She hid this from her friends and all they saw was a woman who had it all. They didn’t see her hurt, but Paul looked into her heart and saw her emptiness. He stopped and spent time talking with her, telling her of Jesus’ love and sharing the depth of God’s love for her. Lydia listened and in that moment opened her heart and accepted the good news of Jesus and with that her whole family was saved!
Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.
Paul saw Lydia. He took the time to see through her façade and through her mask, he saw her pain and he helped her.
I have found myself wanting my pain to be noticed. But the truth is, it has been noticed. God has seen me, He has seen the pain inside me, He knows my struggle and He is ready for me to give it over to Him. I know what this looks like, and I know how freeing it is to give the pain over to the Lord and allow Him to bring me comfort and I will.
But I still find myself wanting some earthly acknowledgement too.