It has been a long dark lonely road. And by long, I mean years.

My children are reading through The Young Pilgrim’s Progress right now with their dad (because I can barely stay awake by their bedtime). So many of the trials and detours described in that book are familiar to me: the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the Slough of Despond, the Giant named Despair…

For the first few years, I kept everything hidden, buried, bottled up inside. No-one could know how dark the valley was, how deep-seated my doubts, how persistent the despair.

Somehow, last year, I found the courage to begin to confide in people. And then to write a little about the darkness.

And there, I found unexpected encouragement: companionship from others traveling the same road.

None of us knew the others were there because of the darkness and secrecy. Daring to light a candle and open the door in has allowed others to enter into the struggle, to hold up my arms when they grew weak, to speak God’s words into the despair, and to share hard-won advice from their own struggles.

This is, I believe, what God means by “bear one another’s burdens” and live together as one body of many parts, suffering when one part suffers and rejoicing when part is honored. (1 Corinthians 12:23-26)

This can only happen when we choose to be vulnerable and let someone else in.

FaithBarista_Jam

Posted as part of the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam: Keep Faith Fresh on the topic of unexpected encouragement. Please visit her site to read more!