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Laying Down Your Last 2%

“So, I encourage you today, call a trusted friend. Don’t hide in the dark alone anymore. Say the last two percent, the things you don’t ever tell anyone that keep you up at night. Lay down your cards, reveal your struggles and be set free. Lay down your last 2%.”

I slammed the book down and rolled my eyes. “Really! Really!? Lay down the last 2%. To whom?” My heart started to ache even as the anger swelled inside me in an effort to mask the pain from memories I had long suppressed.

While the words I read were well intended, and I am so happy that the author had a safe place to lay down her unspoken burdens in an environment where she found comfort and strength, I have spoken to enough women, coupled with my own life experiences, to know that having a judgement free cheering squad isn’t always the case. I can think of situation after situation where I walked quietly through unbearable seasons of depression, guilt, shame and utter heartbreak, All. By. Myself.

We are told in scripture to bear one another’s burdens (see Galatians 6:2); however, this has either been long forgotten by the church or misused as a reason to “bear a burden”, as in subsequently gossip about it. Or only bear it till your arms get tired, then you can walk away. Because of this, I don’t know about you, but I have felt like it would be much better to keep my dirty laundry all to myself, thank you very much.

Knowing that I have had so many seasons, too many seasons, that I walked alone, every part of me wishing just one person would be able to see through the forced smile on my face and extend a hand of comfort and support to me. I have to imagine that I am not the only woman today wishing she had a safe place to lay down her last 2% and find refuge in her dark nights. And for so long I have known deep in my soul that I needed to be the one to extend that hand. That if any of my story was to be redeemed, it would be through this, being the one for the one like me. Lost, forgotten, and fading into the black.

But for far too long I have let the lies of the enemy keep me from seeing others in the murky shadows I once stood in. Even in the light I became too consumed by my relief in freedom and yet equally overwhelmed by the crowd of voices around me threatening to heap my mistakes on my head should I dip into that forgotten closet of skeletons and dare to air my weathered clothes – each stained by a previous chapter I have hesitated to speak on.

Yet the more I get to know the true heart of God, the more I am convinced He never wanted us to walk alone. He never wanted someone to feel so ashamed of their past or present circumstances they couldn’t step out from the shadows and seek help and actually find it. With this deep conviction, I know that if I allow the threats of the enemy, through the voices of the people surrounding me, to keep me quiet a moment longer, then I will surely miss the one for which I was sent, for such a time as this. And as I contemplate this calling, on the precipice of all I was meant for, God gifts me this beautiful image.

I’m standing in a crowded room. All my naysayers at my forefront. All the reasons I should not speak, not write, not ever open my mouth to share the truth of Jesus, it’s all right there in front of me. But knowing my calling, I ignore them all and stand up on my tippy toes so as to scan the crowd. My eyes are laser focused as I look for her. I can’t quite make her out yet, but know she is there. I start to push through the crowd to get a better look. There, yes, I can see her now, just a faint figure fading out of sight. I begin to move my way forward. And as I press through each person, I feel the resistance and the glares, I already know they don’t think I am worthy. But it doesn’t matter anymore. This moment in time is far too important to stop now. With every step I take the clearer the figure the darkness tries to vail becomes. Finally through the expanse of bodies, and to where the light ends, I stop. I extend my hand into the abyss and wait. I smile. “It’s ok.” I speak. “Take my hand.” I can see the hesitation even as much as I feel it. I know the doubts, I know she sees the crowd of people behind me, equally as much her nemesis as mine. I know the darkness has been her comfort and shield for far too long, it has become home. “It’s going to be ok.” I reassure again. “We will do this together.” I feel her grasp my hand as I pull her into the light. I know in this exact moment. This is why I was made. This is who I was made for. Her. The one. The one so much like me. Believing that the darkness of shame could cover my transgressions and provide a safe place for me to hide until its blanket of depth swallowed me up completely. As we begin the journey home, I squeeze her hand tight, I want her to know with assurance, she won’t ever again walk alone.

Sometimes it feels easier to stay in the shadows then come into the light and risk the judgement many of you have experienced there. It feels impossible to ever trust that someone would actually see beyond your story and into the background of the surrounding circumstances. To believe that someone would actually see your heart and know you never meant for your story to turn out this way. But there is an exception to this tail as old as time of human failing human. The beautiful and timeless truth that even if no one else sees your heart or believes your story, God does.

He saw the woman at the well. He saw Nathaniel under the tree. He saw Hagar in the desert. He saw Mary in the garden. And He sees you. He sees you in your heartbreak and despair and He weeps with you and for you. You are not disqualified from His grace or His compassion because the situation you find yourself in is because of your sin, or a mistake you have made. Any more than the ones who finds themselves entrapped by the broken things of this world they never asked for. God never meant for anyone to carry their burden alone. Nor be afraid to whisper the truth into a room that might condemn them. His heart has always been for freedom and redemption. No matter the context of the story.

I don’t know where you are to today friend. But let’s get personal for a moment. I won’t pretend to have sat in the exact circumstances of your today. But I know gut wrenching regret. I know what it feels like to be judged. To feel ashamed. To feel the pain of betrayal and heart break. To be thrown under the bus by so called “Christians”. And to mourn the life I once desired, ruined by my poor choices or by the choices of others. I know what it’s like to hate and question my existence. To wonder if God hears me, sees me or could ever love me again. I understand the depth of pain in loneliness, when you are sure you will never see the light of day again. But, if we were together, this is the part where I would reach across the table and put my hand on yours and say these powerful words, “Because of the depth of pain I have experienced, I know without a doubt the immense love God has for me even in the midst of my greatest sin and the world’s most cruel disloyalty to me. And friend, today, I say to you the words I wish someone would have said to me, it’s going to be okay. We will get through this together. Don’t hide a moment longer. Come into the light and let’s take it all to the feet of Jesus. He has everything we need to shoulder this burden together. He has every remedy and endless amounts of hope to offer. He can take the ashes you hold and make them beautiful again. I know this because He has done it for me.”

Today, will you come with me? Will you open your heart this one last time? Will you join me in courageously laying down our last 2% not in the hearts and minds of an incomplete person, but in the arms of a most sweet and precious Savior whose love has no bounds and whose mercy is fresh each day? He loves you beyond reason and He is waiting to carry you, yes, He is waiting to carry you all the way home.

Friend, here is my hand. I’ll walk with you. No matter how long it takes. I will not let another walk alone.

And for you today, on the other side of the grief and shame. Don’t forget to look back. Reach into the darkness and bring all the others along too. Be the one you needed, right where you are. Don’t wait another day. If you don’t share that hope inside you, well, the rocks might just have to cry out.

We were never meant to do this alone. So, let’s bravely, boldly, defy the odds and break the stereotype. Let’s actually do this thing together, let’s lay down our last 2%.

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